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Ranking Snacks For Fat Loss

I get asked this question all the time. “Shane, what are some of the best healthy snack choices I can choose from?” Instead of just telling you what snacks are best for weight loss, I figured it would be helpful to also explain why. We’ll start with the “worst” snack choices and move up the ladder to the “optimal” snack choices if your goal is to lose fat, increase energy, and change your shape.

Poor snacks

This category would include ANY processed and refined foods, regardless of their calorie content. I’ve talked about the “100 calorie snack packs” of crackers, cookies, pretzels, etc, in previous posts. These snacks are poor choices because of how they react hormonally in your body.

Foods that have been refined or processed break down very quickly in your digestive system and create an insulin release (the fat storing hormone). They’re also likely to contain artificial sweeteners and other unnatural ingredients (negative partitioning agents) that signal your body to store the energy in fat cells instead of feeding the muscle.

While you do receive calories from eating processed and refined foods, you get very little if any nutritional value. These “dead” calories only serve to keep your body starving for real nutrition and they put you in a fat storing mode.

Good snacks

This category would include ANY whole, natural food eaten by itself. This would include things like fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, cottage cheese, tuna fish, and other lean proteins. These choices are good because you’re getting nutritional value but they’re not “optimal” from a fat loss standpoint because they don’t contain a combination of nutrients for slow released energy.

For example, an apple eaten alone for a snack is a “good” choice but it’s all carbohydrate so it gets digested very quickly. A “better” choice as you’ll see below is combining the apple with a healthy fat to slow down the gastric emptying and produce a better hormonal response.

Better snacks

This category would include combining fibrous carbohydrates (fruits or raw vegetables) with natural fats (cheese, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, etc). This combination helps to produce slow-released energy and provides your body with quality nutrients to feed the muscle and not fat cells.

“Better” snack examples would include:
1-2 tbsp peanut butter- ½ or whole apple
2 slices of cheese- ½ or whole apple
½ cup almonds- ½ or whole orange
½ cup nuts- ½ cup blueberries
½-1 cup trail mix (nuts, seeds, raisins)

Optimal snacks

This category would include protein and/or protein-fat combinations with a fibrous carbohydrate. This combination is “optimal” from a fat loss standpoint because of the “thermogenic” response you get from the protein.

Make no mistake about it; protein is the key because it helps to rev up your metabolism. When you look at the energy that is required to digest protein it’s about four times as much compared to fats and twice as much as carbohydrates.

A “thermogenic” meal or snack is simply one that produces heat due to the energy required to digest it. Protein eaten alone is no where near as effective as eating protein with a fibrous carbohydrate. It’s the combination of the protein and fiber that really produces the thermogenic effect.

“Optimal” snack examples would include:
Hard boiled egg – ½ or whole apple
1 cup cottage cheese- ½ cup to 1 cup blueberries
Tuna fish (1 can) – ½ or whole orange
4 slices deli turkey breast- ½ cup to 1 cup strawberries
Protein smoothie (whey protein powder, water, yogurt, ½-1 cup berries, mix in blender)

Note: Serving sizes are for example only. Calorie requirements will vary from individual to individual. For best results I recommend completing a metabolic profile assessment to determine your unique calorie requirements.

Almost “Optimal” but categorized as “Better” would be meal replacement protein shakes (Ultramet, Advocare, EAS Myoplex, MetRx, Muscle Milk, etc).

I personally use powdered meal replacement shakes for my (2) snacks pretty much daily through the week out of convenience. They’ve got a good protein, carb, and fat combination to make them nice alternative to whole food snacks.

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It’s the protein I’m looking for and meal replacement shakes provide between 25-40 grams. Females should look to use the ”light” versions that contain 15-25 grams of protein. A full-fledged meal replacement with 40 grams or more of protein would be too much and is likely to create an insulin response with resulting fat storage.

On a side note, I would look to minimize the use of “ready to drink” protein shakes. These are heavily processed and contain a ton of artificial ingredients (negative partitioning agents). Use the powdered meal replacement formulas and make your own shakes with water.

Many varieties today don’t require the use of a blender. All you need is a shaker cup and some water. This is a great choice to take with you to work or on the road.

Don’t overlook the benefits of a high quality meal replacement protein shake for your snacks. If they didn’t work I wouldn’t be using them. If you’ll eat whole, natural foods great, but if you’re busy and can’t find the time to eat or prepare snacks, this is your best alternative.

You’ll find a list of natural (un-processed or refined) food choices below for making your snack combinations. Mix and match whatever you like. Eat alone for a “good” snack, or mix for a better choice with slow-released energy.

Protein/Fats

Fibrous Carbohydrates

Hard Boiled Eggs

Apple

Almonds

Orange

Peanuts

Pear

Walnuts

Pineapple

Pecans

Banana

Sunflower Seeds

Blueberries

Trail mix (nuts, seeds, raisins)

Strawberries

Tuna Fish

Raspberries

Cottage Cheese

Blackberries

Trans-Fat Free Peanut Butter

Peach

Deli Turkey Breast

Kiwi Fruit

Deli Chicken Breast

Nectarine

Cheese

Cherries

Whey Protein Powder

Yogurt

Meal Replacement Protein Shakes

Raw vegetables

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios.

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Category: Nutrition.