The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.
But that might also bring thoughts of "tasteless," "cardboard," and "completely unsatisfying."
Let me give you my best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren't just nutritious but also delicious!
What’s my criteria you ask?
They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way; foods that contain protein and/or fibre.
1 - Nuts
It’s true - nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!
Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening.
Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.
By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.
Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!
Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag.
2 - Fresh Fruit
As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)
Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I'm not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.
Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the "satiety factor") but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious "blood sugar spike."
Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.
Tip: Can't do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they're already chopped for you.
3 - Chia seeds
This is one of my personal favourites…
Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.
Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?
They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).
Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!
4 - Boiled or poached eggs
Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.
They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.
And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.
Yup, you read that right!
Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!
5 - Vegetables
I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.
Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don't need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?
You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).
Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying my new hummus recipe below?
Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be "tasteless," like "cardboard," or "completely unsatisfying." Trust me.
Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus
Makes about 2 cups
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
⅓ cup tahini
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 dash salt
1 dash pepper
1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini, and olive oil in place of the sesame oil.
It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).
Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving.
Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.
It's the chronic stress that's a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day that can mess with your health.
Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.
Let's dive into the "stress mess."
Mess #1 - Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed.
Stress increased the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood "thickness," as well as how well your cells respond to insulin.
Mess #2 - Immunity
Did you notice that you get sick more often when you're stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?
Well, that's because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.
Mess #3 - "Leaky Gut."
Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as "intestinal permeability." These "leaks" can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.
The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other.
Picture this: Have you ever played "red rover?" It's where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right though. Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in red rover!
Mess #4 - Sleep Disruption
Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.
And when you don't get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.
More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health. Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren't doing you any favours.
Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.
● Put less pressure on yourself? ● Ask for help? ● Say "no"? ● Delegate to someone else? ● Finally, make that decision?
No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:
● Deep breathing ● Meditation ● Walk in nature ● Unplug (read a book, take a bath) ● Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.) ● Connect with loved ones
Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.
Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.
There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it.