7 Snack-Smart Guidelines

Eat This, Not That! brings you 7 simple guidelines to nibbling away pounds

The most effective way to lose weight is by eating the right foods at the right times. Slurping down a cup of coffee for breakfast and ignoring your rumbling stomach until noon isn’t just uncomfortable — it will also leave you more likely to order up a burger and fries at the first sight of a drive-thru. Would you like extra pounds with that?

The good news is that it’s okay to munch in between meals. A 2005 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people on a weight-loss plan who snacked lost as much weight as those on the same weight-loss plan who didn’t. Bet you can guess which group of people felt less restricted.

But that doesn’t mean you should go have a free-for-all in the aisles of 7-Eleven. Choosing the right snacks is essential to maintaining good health, reaching your goal weight, and having more energy. That’s why Eat This, Not That! developed the following snack-smart guidelines.

Don’t snack if you’re not hungry
French researchers found that when people who weren’t hungry ate a snack a few hours after lunch, they did not eat fewer calories at dinner, regardless of whether the snack was high in carbohydrates or fat.

Go for high-protein, not high-carb

Another group of French researchers found that high-protein snacks help people feel full longer and eat less at their next meal. Study participants ate 200 calories of protein or carbs or nothing at all. Those who ate
high-carbohydrate snacks were hungry again just as quickly as those who ate no snacks.

Keep the salt down, especially for your kids

A study published in an American Heart Association journal found that kids who eat salty snacks get thirstier (obviously), but they’re also more likely to drink calorie- and sugar-laden sodas to tame their thirst. According to the USDA, most of the sodium in the American diet comes from packaged and processed foods. Naturally occurring salt accounts for only 13 percent of total intake, while 77 percent is added by food manufacturers.

Take the family to the movies

A study of popcorn consumers published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that popcorn eaters had a 22 percent higher intake of fiber and a 250 percent higher intake of whole grains than noneaters. (But order it without the scary faux-butter topping, to save hundreds of calories.

Go nuts and dark chocolate

Purdue University researchers found that snackers who ate peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, chestnuts, or chocolate were significantly less hungry than those who ate rice cakes or pickles.

Reward yourself with ice cream

British researchers conducted MRI scans and found that a single spoonful of ice cream triggers the pleasure centers in the brain. Plus, just half a cup of vanilla ice cream gives you 18 milligrams of choline, which recent USDA research shows lowers blood levels of homocysteine by 8 percent. That translates into protection from cancer, heart attack, stroke, and dementia. Best pick: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Light. One serving has at most 3 grams of saturated fat.

Think dips

The average corn chip is hardly a model of nutrition. But you can turn it into something much healthier by pairing it with the right dip. Sour cream and dried onion soup? Not so fast. But mix a little avocado, some lime juice, half a jalapeno, and a few sprinkles of salt and you have instant guacamole-and a delivery system for fiber, vitamins and minerals, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Low-cal, high-in-vitamins salsa and fiber-rich bean dips are also smart choices.

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