Snacks are awesome!
They’re the perfect little something to tide you over until your next meal and/or just the thing you need to eat right before going into a tough workout.
At the same time, snacks can go “bad” in that they can derail you from your goals and lead you to overeat.
Here are 9 snacking mistakes to avoid if you’re trying to lose weight:
#1 Not Tracking
Snacks, no matter how “clean” or tasty they may be, contain calories, and just as you do with your other meals, they need to be logged in your food diary with the 1UP Fitness App Without tracking your calories, you really have no idea whether you’re creating the calorie deficit that’s required to lose weight.
In other words, track your snacks just like you would breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The great news is that the 1UP Fitness App makes it incredibly easy to do so. With just a few clicks you can enter in the foods you eat and immediately see how many calories, carbs, fat and protein they contain.
#2 Avoiding Fruit
Fruit is often avoided by individuals during a weight loss phase largely due to the belief that fruit contains sugar. However, there’s a big difference between fruit and gummy bears or pixie sticks.
For starters, fruit is full of water and fiber, both of which can help keep you feeling full. Second, fruit is rich in numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support metabolism and overall health and wellness.
Plus, fruit is also a perfect on-the-go snack. It requires no prep or massive cleaning effort. Simply toss a piece of fruit, like an apple, orange, or banana, in your bag and you’ve got the start of the perfect snack or pre-workout meal.
#3 Forgetting About Protein
We’ve said it time and time again, consuming enough protein is essential to losing weight. It’s highly satiating, requires more energy to digest than other macronutrients, and it supports muscle recovery.
Collectively, this should make protein the focus of all of your meals and snacks.
Building off of the previous point, you already have some healthy carbs as part of your snack -- fruit -- now, you just need to add some quality protein. This doesn’t have to be anything massive like a hunk of chicken or steak (though you certainly could do that). Ideal protein options for snack time include hard-boiled eggs, a serving of nuts, or even a whey protein shake.
#4 Snacking When You’re Not Hungry
There was a myth floating around the fitness industry for years that the “best” way to eat was to eat small meals or snacks every 2-3 hours because it helps “boost” the metabolism. This frequently results in individuals eating when they’re not even hungry, and ultimately causing them to exceed their calorie intake goals for the day and thus not lose weight.
When it comes to snacking, in particular, if you’re not hungry, there’s no need to force feed yourself.
Do a hunger check before you reach for your snack and assess how hungry you are on a scale of 1-10. For more information on using a hunger scale to help lose weight, click here.
#5 Not Keeping an Eye on Portion Sizes
Certain snacks like nuts, nut butters, seeds, and fruit can be incredibly easy to overeat if you’re not keeping an eye on how big of a serving you’re eating. Even though these foods are healthy, if you eat too many calories, you’re not going to lose weight.
The simple fix here is to portion out a serving instead of eating straight from the container.
#6 Choosing High-Calorie Snacks
When you’re trying to lose weight, calories are at a premium, which means you need to be judicious in how you structure your meals and especially your snacks. More often than not, you should be choosing lower calories options (whole foods vs processed foods, for instance). By focusing on things like fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, you’ll nourish your body and stay fuller for longer without being as likely to overeat.
#7 Eating While Distracted
We’re all guilty of mindlessly munching away on food while watching TV, doing work, or scrolling on our phones. Eating in this distracted state quite often leads to overeating.
By removing technology from mealtime (and snack time), you can be more present and mindful so that you really focus on the sensations and flavors of the food you’re eating, which helps bring more joy and fulfillment. Mindful eating also forces you to eat slower, which gives your stomach more time to send your brain the signal that you’ve had enough to eat, which ultimately helps you to not overeat and stay on track with your goals.
#8 Not Planning
Failure to plan is planning for failure.
This axiom holds true in countless areas of life, including weight loss.
If you have a small breakfast early in the morning and didn’t remember to pack a snack, there’s a good chance you’ll grow ravenous long before lunch and grab a high-calorie snack that’s not really that feeling (such as a couple of donuts from the break room) and/or overeat come lunch time.
With that in mind, when you’re planning your meals for the week (aka meal prep) also make sure to do some snack prep as well. Figure out what snacks you’re going to eat during the day (and when you’re going to eat them). This way, you won’t be left unprepared, and thereby less likely to go binging on whatever junk food is in the office or in your pantry (if you’re working from home.
#9 Avoiding Snacks Altogether
When trying to lose weight, it’s incredibly common to adopt certain extreme measures, such as completely eliminating carbohydrates (even fruits and vegetables) from the diet. In an effort to keep calorie intake to a minimum, many individuals also think that snacks are prohibited as well...and, this simply isn’t true.
Snacks can help you avoid becoming ravenously hungry (hangry) between meals, thereby helping you not overeat come meal time.
Now, something important to remember is that you don’t “have” to have snacks in order to lose weight. Some individuals simply prefer to eat less frequently during the day and have larger meals, while others prefer the multiple smaller meals more frequently during the day. Both approaches work, it ultimately boils down to creating the calorie deficit needed to lose weight (hence why we harp on the importance of tracking calories) and which nutrition plan set-up works best for YOU.