updated 04/22/2013 AT 2:55 PM ET
•originally published 04/24/2013 AT 4:15 PM ET
My name is Harley, and I love chocolate chip cookies.
In fact, I love cookies and chips and pretzels and scones and muffins and chocolate bars and you get the picture.
Thats why it’s essential I don’t let myself get hungry between meals, because that’s when I’m vulnerable. If I’m hungry, guess what I’m going to reach for as a snack: WHATEVER I CAN! (Most likely one of the above.)
Smart snacking can help me avoid being hungry between meals, and, therefore, also avoid temptation. Snacking the right way can help you in many ways, too!
Weight Management Snacking provides structure to a daily diet, regardless of how erratic one’s schedule may be. One study found that people who snack throughout the day have improved weight control over those who only stick to three meals, and no snacks. A second study suggests that snacking helps appetite control by preventing overeating at meals.
Researchers found that hunger is more intense before meals than before snacks, therefore, people looking to lose weight can feel fuller on fewer calories by adding snacks in their daily meal plan. Another study found that snacking between meals led to an overall lower caloric intake over the day, and a significant amount of weight loss over 12 weeks.
Snacking will keep you energized throughout the day and help you avoid “hitting the wall” in the afternoon. In fact, a recent study found that snacking in the afternoon reversed the adverse effect of skipping breakfast and kept the subject energized until dinner.
Certain populations NEED to snack for health reasons. One study found that pregnant women who consumed three meals AND two snacks a day had the lowest rate of pre-term birth, compared to women who ONLY had three meals and NO snacks. I typically make my snacks approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the size of a meal. Snacks should contain some protein (at least 5 grams) and healthy fat and/or fiber. The combination of these components make you feel fuller longer.