When trying to lose weight, many of us automatically cut out snacks to reduce our calorie intake. However, choosing the right snacks can actually help to promote weight loss.
Not only has research from the Harvard School of Public Health shown that eating yoghurt could help to keep you slim, yoghurts also contain active cultures (probiotics) which promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut and help with digestion, excess gas and bloating, helping to create a flatter stomach. A study also found that people who got their calcium from yoghurt rather than other dairy sources lost more weight around the stomach area.
While nuts may be fairly high in calories, they are also rich in weight-loss friendly monounsaturated fats and a good source of protein, which can help to keep you full. Research from a team at Harvard School of Public Health suggests that is more important to concentrate on eating healthily than fixating on calorie consumption, and found that extra helpings of nuts, yoghurt, fruit, veg and whole grains were linked to weight loss. In fact, eating more yoghurt and nuts was shown to help weight loss more than fruit and veg, which is believed to be because they help to keep you full for longer.
Berries are not only rich in disease-fighting and wrinkle-busting antioxidants, they can also help to banish love handles. Studies by researchers at the University of Michigan have found that the chemicals (anthocyanins) which give red or blue fruits their color can also help to reduce abdominal fat, which is a problem area for many. Try snacking on a vibrant red and blueberry salad to eat yourself slim.
While avocados often get a bad rep for their high levels of fat, the ‘good’ fats they contain (monounsaturated fats) can actually help with weight loss. Monounsaturated fats not only lower cholesterol levels, they can also help to reduce body fat, particularly on the stomach. Try snacking on a prawn, avocado and mango salad; having a seafood-stuffed avocado; or eating sliced avocado on wholegrain toast.
Whole grains such as oats are great for helping you shed those excess pounds as they are a low-fat source of slow-release energy; help to regulate the digestive system and keep you feeling fuller for longer; and also help to lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and insulin in the body, both of which encourage fat to be stored around the belly. Like popcorn and apples, oats are also high on the ‘Satiety Index’ so will prevent hunger pangs. Try snacking on oatcakes or an oat-based smoothie for a slimming snack.
Salad is a great pre-meal snack as it can help to fill you up so that you indulge less on higher calorie foods. Dark green leafy vegetables are also a good source of folate, and a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that dieters who ate high amounts of folate lost up to eight and half times more weight than those who ate the least amount of folate. It is thought that folate can help encourage weight loss because the vitamin helps to steady your blood insulin levels and this will encourage your body to burn fats from the foods you eat instead of storing them.
Popcorn is the perfect diet-friendly snack, helping to fill you up for a long time on a small amount of calories. Popcorn is packed with fibre (perfect for keeping you feeling full and improving your digestion) and also fills you up due to its volume. It is also low in fat and rich in nutrients. To help you stay slim, try swapping crisps for popcorn. To retain its health benefits, air-popped popcorn is best, served plain or seasoned with Italian seasonings, chili powder or other herbs and spices.
Apples are full of fibre so are a great food to keep hunger at bay. They also have a high water content, which research has shown can help to improve our satiety because it increases portion size without adding calories. Experts at the University of Sydney developed a ‘Satiety Index’ based on how long foods will stop you from feeling hungry, and identified apples as one of the most filling foods.
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