Office worker Will is looking to improve his health and shed a few kilos. He knows to do this he needs to be conscious of how many calories he eats. So, he makes a nutrition plan and gets his breakfast, lunch and dinner choices perfected.
The problem is... he can't help snacking.
Let's say Will works out he needs to consume 1800-2000 calories each day to lose weight. He allocates around 600 calories each to breakfast, lunch and dinner, knowing honestly that he will snack at some point.
Not being great at controlling his urges, Will often grabs a snack mid-morning to keep him going. This is usually a handful of the trail mix he has in his desk drawer. He then has a second snack as 3.30-itis kicks in. This one comes from a cereal bar and a little bit more of the trail mix.
A month later Will is frustrated beyond belief. He has not lost any weight for all of his hard work!
Why? Let's break it down.
The handful of healthy trail mix he had mid-morning contains about 250 calories.
The cereal bar he ate in the afternoon contained about 180 calories. Add that to a bit more trail mix and it comes to around 300 calories.
As you can see, his snacking isn't helping his efforts. It pushes his total calories up to 2350 per day. All of that meal planning and preparation has gone to waste due to poor snack choices.
He should have gone for snacks that are nutrient dense, low in calories and filling, just like the ones below.
There's nothing inherently wrong with snacking. Everyone snacks. Just remember that the calories from your snacks still count so you should make a conscious and healthy choice as to what they are (as Will unfortunately found out).
Note: These snacks below don't actually 'burn fat'. To burn fat you need to be in a calorie deficit (which means consume less than your body burns). What these snacks do is help you stay full, control your appetite, keep your energy high and ultimately help you stick to your nutrition plan. That’s why they burn fat.
Something to remember:
"Anytime you can get more fruit, veggies and protein into your diet the better."
Finally! Here's a list of 27 awesome snacks for the office.
Popcorn. Choose the low-fat, low-salt varieties and top with a flavour of your choice (like cinnamon).
Roasted chickpeas. Awesome if you love the afternoon crunch.
4-bean mix and with salsa. High fibre with a mix of flavours. Will keep you full and control your appetite.
Carrots, celery and cucumber sticks in low-cal dip like tzatziki
Celery, tomato and sprinkle of cheese salad.
Frozen fruit (frozen grapes are amazing)
Apple with a little bit of nut butter. Sliced apple with small shavings of almond/peanut/cashew butter. A surprisingly tasty combo.
Instant oatmeal. A small pack of low-sugar oatmeal is a great comfort food. Mix with skim milk or water and sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon. Add in some fruit and bam!
Protein bars. Lower carb options are best. Plus some taste so good you think you're eating an actual chocolate bar!
Protein shakes. Pure protein!
Low-salt meat jerky
Low-fat canned tuna on low-calorie crackers
Cottage cheese with mixed berries and cinnamon.
High protein yoghurts (brands such as Arla and Skyr)
Low-fat greek yoghurt with fruit. Any of the fruits listed below are awesome.
Hard boiled eggs with hot sauce. For that between meal kick.
Meat slices on crackers with cucumber slices. Delicious.
Some fruits contain a bit more sugar than others, so here are your best choices.
Grapes, peaches, grapefruits, strawberries, watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, apples, plums and oranges.
Why not nuts?
12 almonds contains around 200 calories.
An apple, a bag of low-calorie popcorn and a tomato/cucumber/light sprinkle of feta cheese salad is also around 200 calories.
Which will satisfy you more?
I'm not against nuts at all and eat them everyday (go to favourites are walnuts, cashews and almonds). They contain healthy fats and a bunch of other healthy goodness. But as a 'go'to' snack they are too calorie dense to recommend all the time when you consider all of the above choices.
If you really like them, go for it, they are nutritious and can be a good choice in the right context. Just be aware of how many you're nibbling on.