Thursday 29 September 2016

Doctor's Orders: Beware the 'between meal' snack attack

Take care what kinds of foods you snack on - there may be a host of hidden calories lurking there to trip you up

Ciara Kelly

Published 11/05/2015 | 02:30

Tastebuds: Some snacks can use up over half your daily
calorie allowance
Tastebuds: Some snacks can use up over half your daily calorie allowance

Wow. Pat yourselves on your newly svelte backs! If you've been sticking to your Slimmer for Summer healthy-eating plan - you've just completed week four and you're half-way there! And hopefully half a stone down and starting to notice some real changes.

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If you've dropped the ball or are late to the party, six of our columnists and thousands of our readers have adopted a variety of healthy eating programmes for an eight-week period, and are currently four weeks away from their goal of losing a stone and feeling lighter, livelier and generally marvellous for the start of the summer. And it's not too late to join in. Pick a healthy eating plan that you think will work for you - be that Operation Transformation, Weight Watchers, the Five-Two, or whatever - and get stuck in. There are few people who don't feel they'd like to shed a few pounds and boost their energy levels in time for the holiday season.

Weight loss has obvious benefits to your health, lowering your risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer, arthritis etc. But because most of us are eating too much, many of us feel sluggish and lacking in vitality generally. Shedding even a stone and changing to a healthier, lighter diet can make us feel like a new person. Plus there is the psychological boon of fitting into a smaller size.

To lose one pound of weight you need to forego 3500 calories. So if you're aiming to lose two lbs a week - you need to under-eat by 7000 calories - or roughly 1000 calories per day. Obviously if you burn up more calories, through exercise, that effects things too. But looking at diet alone, in order to lose two lbs a week, you can't really eat more than about 1200 calories per day. Worth bearing in mind, when you think that a scone with butter and jam is about 500 calories.

So the kinds of food you eat, when you're aiming for weight loss, are very important. I use scones as an example very deliberately, as most people think of them as a mid-morning snack. In fact, they're the calorie equivalent of one of your three meals a day. Throw in a cappuccino on top, and your elevenses can use up over half your daily calorie allowance!

Fruit and vegetables are filling and have a low calorie content - eat loads of these. Fat and sugar are high in calories even in small volumes so they should be used minimally. Protein should account for up to a quarter of what you eat and is really important to sate hunger. Carbs, which are good for slow-release energy, have to be eaten in strict moderation or you won't actually lose any weight.

Snacks are really important, because when your meals are smallish, you'll find you need something in between to feel full. Healthy snacks containing protein will help you get through to your next meal. Try a tablespoon of peanut butter as a dip with some chopped celery. Or a chopped pear or some berries with a handful of almonds. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, preferably water - five to eight glasses per day. This helps you feel fuller and stops you mistaking thirst for hunger.

The going is getting tough, especially because you've now shed those more easily shifted first few lbs. The next half stone will have to be worked at. Make sure there's no junk in the press to tempt you, and that you've stocked up on your healthy snack foods - but watch your portion size and overall calorie intake.

Next week, we'll talk about how to add exercise into your regime to boost your metabolism and help you stay on track to lose those last few lbs. Good luck!

@ciarakellydoc

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