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Snacking gets a bad reputation. The snack aisle is full of chips, mithai, namkeens and sugary desserts, which pack in plenty of calories but offer little to no nutritional payoff. But the right kind of snacks provide key nutrients, and energy-boosting snacks can be an important part of a healthy eating plan.
Abbott dietician Abby Sauer, RD, MPH shares some healthy snacking tips you can use to add more energy-boosting snacks to your diet.
Plan Your Snacks
Schedule your snacks to fall between meals, ideally at a time when you're no longer full but not extremely hungry. Eating too much too close to a meal might disrupt your appetite; waiting too long to eat can lead to overeating. Aim to alternate smaller meals with energy-boosting snacks every three to four hours.
Be Mindful of Portion Size
A snack is a snack; it's not supposed to be a meal. In general, snacks should be roughly between 100 and 300 calories. Eating much more than that can drain your energy; eating less might not satisfy your hunger.
Protein is your best weapon against hunger. Eating a snack that's less calorie-dense and high in protein, such as Greek yoghurt, can help control your hunger better than eating a high-fat snack such as chocolate.
Focus on Fibre
Whole grains are a great source of fibre, and high-fibre foods help you feel fuller longer. Snacks made from refined wheat will only leave you wanting more, so choose whole-grain options for long-lasting energy.
Pulses, such as lentils, are great sources of fibre, too. They're packed with slow-digesting protein to keep you full, and carbohydrates to give your brain and body energy. Oatmeal, nuts, whole grains, hummus and vegetables are also great sources of fibre.
Don't Forget Fat
Fibre and protein are great ways to enhance satiety, but unsaturated fats can also be a great add to snack time. Healthy unsaturated fats help you feel fuller longer, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine, so adding foods like walnuts and pumpkin seeds can help satisfy your hunger without weighing you down.
Smart Snack Ideas
These five smart snacks will help you make the most of the healthy snacking tips above. To keep a tab on the calories, the Journal of the Indian Academy of Clinical Medicine advises a calorie-to-carbohydrate ratio of two-to-one for a snack after a large meal.
D.I.Y. Snack Mix
Why buy a premade snack mix when you can make your own less-expensive and healthier version using a few simple ingredients? After all, homemade foods are preferable to prepackaged foods, the National Health Portal says. Combine unsalted almonds, walnuts and unsweetened dried fruit with additions like unsweetened coconut flakes, raisins, dates and seeds for a small snack that's big on flavour.
Dhoklas and Idlis
Dhoklas and idlis are perfect evening snacks because they're low in fat and high in protein. Steaming your dhoklas and eschewing topping them with sugary syrups will keep the calories down. And for an added boost of energy and protein, try making your idlis with oats.
Cheese Sticks and Fresh Veggies
String cheese isn't just for kids. With 5 to 7 grams of protein and only 100 calories, cheese sticks are a great on-the-go snack option. Pair them with some fresh veggies to get more fibre, vitamins and minerals into your diet.
Hard Boiled Eggs and Whole-Grain Crackers
Set yourself up for snacking success by preparing a batch of hard-boiled eggs at the beginning of the week. Large eggs have 6 grams of protein apiece, and they pair perfectly with whole-grain crackers and a drizzle of your favourite hot sauce.
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