Losing Weight: Snacking

Snacking is a national past-time - find out how five runners discovered healthier alternatives to their favourite treats

Posted: 24 January 2011
by Dominique Brady

Snacking is a national epidemic. Research published in June 2010 suggested that nine out of 10 British adults snack between meals and half do so daily. Curbing your snacking - or at least finding healthy alternatives - is crucial to weight-loss.

If you notice that your early morning or lunchtime runs are causing hunger pangs throughout the day, it might be time to reconsider your refuelling strategy. Our panel of five weight-loss runners reveal how they discovered healthy treats to help reap the rewards of their training.

Hunger or thirst?

Many people confuse dehydration with hunger. So often instead of reaching for the biscuit tin between meals, a cool glass of water could often do the trick. All of our five weight-loss runners made sure they kept hydrated throughout the day and noticed this played a big part in controlling their appetite.

"Whenever I felt hungry I'd have a drink instead and then wait for a while. If I still felt hungry then I'd eat," explains Desi R who lost five stone last year. Simon Lynch experienced a similar phenomenon: "I noticed drinking plenty of water between meals suppressed my appetite."

It's recommended adults drink six to eight glasses a day - add a few extra glasses if you run that day, because of water-loss through sweat.

Healthy alternatives

If water doesn't do the trick and that hunger pang can't be ignored, then all is not lost. "There are loads of healthy and tasty snacks out there!" says sports nutritionist Trevor Bedding (www.sportsnutritionist.co.uk). He advises the calorie-conscious to opt for low fat options including smoothies, fruit, rice cakes, carrots dipped in hummus, rice pudding, salad or dried fruit.

Experiment and discover which healthy foods you most enjoy. Kirsten Lodge managed to overcome her sweet tooth and lose 15 pounds with her own snack-based discovery. "I found eating fruit toast with just a scrape of ricotta or cream cheese was perfect when I needed a sugar fix or as a pre-training snack," she explains.

Another good idea is to plan ahead, as it's always much easier to buy unhealthy snacks when they appear the only option. "I make sure I always have apples and satsumas ready to eat in my bag," explains icclesuez.

If you eat healthily most of the time, don't feel too bad about an occasional treat - you can even try making your own healthier version of the original.  "I make my own flapjacks. It might not be the healthiest option but I'm sure it's still better for me than shop-bought ones," adds Lynch.

Mind over matter

Just because you have switched to a healthier diet, it doesn't mean your work colleagues, friends or family have as well. When cakes get brought into the office every Friday or if your children insist on eating crisps, then temptation will strike from time to time. This is when mental strength and learning to say No is important.

"I work in a coffee shop where I am surrounded by delicious muffins and cakes. I can't help but feel tempted occasionally," explains Desi R, "Whenever I do I think to myself, Is this worth it? When I have spent so much time and effort losing weight, do I really want to ruin it in a moment of weakness? That process stops me right in my tracks."

Avoiding snacks at the office can be tricky, but seeing them in your fridge or cupboards at home can be even tougher. "If you have to keep unhealthy treats at home because of the family, then keep a note on the fridge, tin or cupboard door showing your progress - or a photo of how you don't want to look!" advises Bedding.

Learning to say no will get easier once you establish a new eating routine but at the start it will be tricky to change long-running food routines. "You don't need chocolate after a meal or a biscuit with your cup of tea. Identify these bad habits and try to find a healthier alternative," says Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at The Nutri Centre (www.nutricentre.com).

Post-run snacks

If you run for more than an hour or have a particularly intense session, then a snack immediately afterwards that is high in carbohydrates and protein can boost your recovery and stop your appetite ballooning later in the day. "You can reward yourself after your run but make sure it doesn't involve eating junk food as that will undo all your hard work," says Wilkinson.

Good post-run snacks include wholegrain cereals with milk, a tuna sandwich, eggs on toast or fruit smoothies. Discover the best fuelling strategies for both before and after training.

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Losing Weight: Mastering Food Groups


Discuss this article

I've recently started using 'Graze boxes' these are pre-packed (and portion controlled!) snacks that include healthy options such as dried fruit and nuts.

 You can tailor the choices to your own specific needs and this enables you to be as good, or otherwise, as you want!  there are a range of options - including flapjacks and the odd chocolate treat (always with nuts and fruit) if you need that hit to keep you going.

Posted: 12/02/2011 at 19:45

dried fruit and nuts aren't very helpful for weight loss though are they...............they are both highly packed in calories.better than pie and chips i agree but there are other better alternatives
Posted: 12/02/2011 at 19:49

Marks and spencer do healthy pretzels and popcorn. Less than 100 calories and minimal saturated fat - salt intake isn't too high either.
Posted: 12/02/2011 at 19:59

Did you forget to mention you'll get money off if people use that code? Seriously, I don't think nutrition wise Graze boxes are that great.
Posted: 12/02/2011 at 20:00

And you also forgot to mention that people will need to input their credit card details into the website.  Not sure whether it was a mistake or not, but a friend went for a free box and then Graze starting debiting her card and delivering boxes.  She only wanted the freebie.

Posted: 12/02/2011 at 21:29

Little Ninja wrote (see)
Seriously, I don't think nutrition wise Graze boxes are that great.

I think it's the same thing as most foods.  A little every now and then does no harm, but that's not poss with a Graze box - you either have a regular delivery or not, altho it seems the do fortnightly deliveries.
Posted: 12/02/2011 at 21:31

Is Oat cake with peanut butter a good healthy alternative for snacking?
Posted: 07/03/2011 at 16:52

Snacking is my absolute killer... when i get out of the office at lunch for a walk i always opt for my healthy activia yoghurt but to accompany it they'll be a little pack of chocolate or even worse a pack of doritos... the shops around my office have even started doing 3 bars of chocolate for £1... you can imagine how that goes down with a chocoholic like myself!

 Anyone got some tasty alternatives??

 I'm currently tipping the scales at 81kg, but would ideally like to get those extra 2-3kg off and get consistently below the 80kg mark!

Posted: 08/03/2011 at 09:50

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