Many people avoid snacks because they are afraid that snacks contribute to weight gain. However, a healthy snack can offer health benefits. Snacks can even be included in a weight loss plan. The trick is to choose a snack with about 100 calories and a mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Aim to eat your snack about halfway between meals to keep energy levels consistent.
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Increased Nutrient Intake
Eating a healthy snack allows you to add to your intake of essential nutrients. Fruits and vegetables add vitamins A and C, both of which are important for immunity, wound healing and teeth and gums. They also offer fiber and fill your stomach for very few calories. Add low-fat cheese, yogurt or hummus to increase protein intake, which is necessary for healthy muscles, skin, cells and hair. Whole grain crackers add complex carbohydrates and additional fiber. Low-fat dairy foods increase calcium intake, a nutrient that is needed for healthy bones. A handful of nuts at snack time adds healthy fats to your diet, which protect your heart and brain.
Having a snack between meals prevents you from becoming so hungry that you reach for unhealthy junk food. A healthy snack keeps hunger at bay and allows you to stick to a moderate amount of food when you do eat your next meal. Choose snacks such as string cheese and fruit or peanut butter on whole grain crackers; these items are low in calories but will satisfy hunger.
A healthy snack made up of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats increases your energy levels for a longer period of time than sugary snacks do. This is because sugar will cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you hungry and lethargic. Complex carbohydrates are a stable source of energy, and including them in a healthy snack helps you power through your tasks between meals. A good choice would be yogurt with a small amount of granola or trail mix.
Adding healthy snacks between meals increases focus and performance, both at school and work. Children are able to comprehend and retain information presented in the classroom at a higher rate when their bodies are fueled consistently, according to the American Dietetic Association. Adults may find that eating a small snack in the afternoon gets them through their tasks more quickly and efficiently. Try snacks such as vegetables and hummus, popcorn or a low-calorie energy bar.