Many folks like to have a snack during the day and many dietary eating plans encourage them. Yet, if not incorporated properly, snacks can derail a diet and one’s weight loss and weight management goals.

Snacks are used to carry you from one meal to the next and are typical between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner and/or as a pre/post workout snack. Snacking becomes an issue when the portions are out of control, what the choices for snacks and if snacking is really necessary.

These extra meals may contain extra fat and calories that can lead to weight gain and/or negate the efforts of your hard work in the gym.

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So when is it ok to snack?

Well, that depends on what you eating plan entails, what is your eating style and even what your daily schedule is like. If you tend to consume bigger meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner then chances are you don’t need to snack.

If your schedule permits and it works best to have smaller, more frequent meals, then a snack would be appropriate so you can coast to the next meal without hunger pains.

Also, a snack may be required to fuel workout or promote recovery after a workout. However, if your workout is a moderate stroll, more than likely you don’t need pre/post snack but, if you have an intense workout plan then a snack may be appropriate here to promote your fitness goals.

Snacking can be part of a happy healthy diet. You just need to snack smarter.

There are a few guidelines when it comes to snacking. First, be sure assess your hunger and need for food.

Are you just thirsty, eating out of boredom or are you feeling those first signs of huger?

When you know it’s really snack time, just as you would prepare a main meal, a snack should consist of a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Next, watch the portions, snacks should not be full sized meal.

They should be a third to a half of what your meal is normally. A big ole snack between lunch and dinner may curb your appetite, but may put you over the edge too. Lastly, as a general rule, snacks should be about 100-250 calories, depending on your daily calorie requirements.

Keeping your portions in check will keep your calories in check and you’ll be in good snacking shape.

So what are good snacks?

5 creative healthy snack alternatives_2

Here are 5 healthy snack alternatives

1) Craving something sweet? Have some fresh fruit dipped in dark chocolate and chopped nuts. Or have some fruit dipped in Greek yogurt with a little honey.

2) Craving crunch? Vegetables with cheese or dip. Cut up vegetables such as cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, snap peas, etc with an ounce of cheese or 2 tablespoons of your favorite dip such as hummus, plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with herbs, or guacamole.

3) More of a mini meal? Try a slice of sprouted grain bread with cream cheese and side of berries.

4) Want a drink? How about a cup of Kefir or low-fat chocolate milk.

5) Need to grab and go? When it comes to pre-packaged bars remember to choose ones with minimally processed ingredients and look for those that have less than 10 grams of added sugar.

Remember, snacks are not an excuse to have whatever you want. Snacking on things such as chips, cookies, candy, ice cream and the like, if you chose, should be done in moderation and stick to a single serving to avoid calorie overload.

Think of a snack of as adding a log to the fire before it burns out entirely. Your “fire” is your metabolism keep it humming throughout the day with healthy, happy snacking!

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