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More Easy Steps for Smart Snacking

4. Be careful with energy bars.

There are all kinds of “energy” or “power” bars being marketed under the guise of convenience and good nutrition. The truth is, these carry-anywhere bars can come in handy. But a review of many different energy bar labels reveals that choosing a bar is a matter of “picking your poison.” That is, deciding what means most to you – taste, fat, fiber, protein, sugars? Generally, if bars are “low in carbs” they’re also low in fiber and/or higher in fat. (Some even have quite a bit of saturated fat.) And if a bar tastes pretty good, it probably has at least 12 grams of sugars per serving.

When picking one, look for at least 3 grams of fiber (preferably 5 grams), at least 5 grams of protein (preferably 10 grams), lower amounts of fat with no saturated fat, and fewer than 20 grams of sugar.

5. Don’t snack if you aren’t really hungry.

Some French researchers studied the effect of two types of snacks (one high in carbohydrate and one high in protein), given a few hours after lunch, on eight lean young men. They concluded that when people who aren’t hungry eat a snack — whether it’s high in carbs or protein — they do not tend to reduce the number of calories they eat at dinner. The researchers believe this is evidence that snacking can play a role in obesity.

Are you wondering why these men weren’t “hungry” a few hours after eating lunch? Researcher Didier Chapelot, MD, PhD, of the University of Paris, said that, in France, most people don’t eat anything between lunch and dinner. He also noted that people who usually eat three times a day (as the men in this study regularly did), are not generally hungry until 5-7 hours after lunch.

6. Avoid high-fat snacks.

There are lots of reasons to avoid fatty snacks, including the possibility that they actually encourage overeating. Pennsylvania State University researchers found that rats who were regularly fed a high-fat diet ended up overeating high-calorie, high-fat foods, compared with rats fed a low-fat diet. The researchers suspect this has to do with a decrease in sensitivity to a hormone that normally sends a “stop eating” message to the brain.

7. Look out for TV temptations.

Convenience and fast foods high in fat and sodium made up 57% of the food advertised during the most popular TV shows, according to research by University of Illinois speech communication professor Kristen Harrison, PhD.

Harrison’s research also revealed that snacking is featured in food advertising more often than all three meals combined (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). So if you watch TV, keep in mind that food companies are working to lure you into buying their snack foods and junk foods.

from WebMD

Categories: health
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