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Eating every 2-3 hours is crucial to keep that metabolism pumping. However, being unaware of consuming “extra calories” adds up.

For instance, many individuals will consume a few snacks throughout the day. Although, not selecting the right types of snacks, and eating them in excess, will ultimately cause weight gain. To put this into perspective, if an individual is consuming an extra 500 calories a day, roughly 5 times out of the week, this amounts to 2500 extra calories. Within a half a year, an individual can gain an unintentional 18.5 pounds.

Ongoing habits can amount to more weight gain depending on the degree of “extra calories” consumed by the individual.

Healthy snacking can create a multitude of benefits. Most importantly, binge eating can be avoided. Depending on an individual’s schedule will determine when snacks are eaten.

However, usually snacks are consumed between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner, and perhaps an evening snack, if dinner is typically eaten at an early hour.

What should I snack on?

More often than not, individuals make the mistake of snacking on the wrong foods. For example, chips, cookies, fruit roll ups, and granola bars. Now, one might wonder why granola bars. Some products are acceptable snack options, however, make sure to read the nutrition label.

An immense number of snack bars contain added sugars and saturated fats/trans fats. Instead, opting for fruit, yogurt, nuts, or even dry cereal, is a healthier option to consider. The list goes on and on, however, it is important to choose healthy alternatives that are tasteful to the individual. Eating something that is unsatisfying will most likely result in eating an additional snack, resulting in additional calories.

Snack options such as the ones mentioned above, are referred to as low glycemic carbs, otherwise known as complex carbs, which provide satiation throughout the day. While high glycemic carbohydrates found in sugary and fattening snacks head straight into the blood stream and are used right away as glucose. This is why people can eat so many cookies or chips without feeling full.

What should I avoid?

Drinking calories away is extremely common. For example, a bottle of soda is loaded with sugar, and nearly 200 calories depending on the brand. It provides you with 40-50 grams of sugar and a surplus of calories that provide no nutrient value. Gatorade is another drink that is commonly misused. Individuals tend to drink this casually.

However, Gatorade too contains a lot of sugar and electrolytes. It is meant for exercise or very active individuals. Refueling with Gatorade restores the depleted sodium levels which become low due to intense exercise and sweating. Loading your body with sodium and electrolytes is unnecessary if fitness is not typically being performed. Moral of the story, stick to water. The body thrives off water consumption, and supports optimal functioning for most major organs.

Another common mistake is the excessive use of sauces, dressings, and creamers. Many coffee creamers are high in sugar, fat, and carbs. For instance, 3 Tbsp. of a flavored coffee creamer typically contains 15g sugar, 15 carbs, and 3-5g of fat. Sauces such as mayonnaise and cream cheese are very high in fat too. A number of sauces such as BBQ, honey mustard, and especially salad dressings, are high in sugar as well.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Drink water and avoid juices/soda
  • Choose complex carbohydrates
  • Avoid high fattening spreads and sauces
  • Eliminate snacking in large amounts before bed
  • Read labels and be aware of portion sizes
  • Do not drink your calories away!

Anna Bailey is a sophomore majoring in nutritional sciences-dietetics option, and a member of the Student Nutrition Association.