Dump the Brunch & Pack A Snack
I’m not sure about you, but to me there’s no meal more gorge-worthy than brunch. Eggs, bacon, biscuits, pancakes, and waffles — mmmm! But even brunches stocked with “healthy” items aren’t a good idea for maintaining your health goals.
The human body is far more efficient when processing food in smaller doses than in big influxes. That’s why it’s better to go with healthy snacks – which are good news for your metabolism, and even better news for your gut than those kingly feasts.
Food is Energy and Nutrients
Think about food this way: every time you go to the gas station, you encounter a wealth of energy, way more than your car could ever handle. So, do you get overexcited and try to pump it all in, or do you fill the tank to the top, pay the astronomical prices, and go on your way?
It’s easy to forget when meals are so distractingly delicious, but food is meant to power our bodies and provide the basic building blocks to keep our cells, and organs healthy and running smoothly. Filling your body with more energy than you need will only stress your systems and increase fat conversion without allowing for the slow absorption of nutrients. And no one likes fat conversion.
But it’s the same number of calories in the end!
So? Let’s say you consume 5 trillion calories in a lifetime. Would it make sense to eat them all in one sitting, just because sometime before you die you’re going to eventually eat 5 trillion calories? Of course not, and the same thing goes for consuming a day’s worth of calories in even the healthiest of brunches. Besides the efficiency and nutrient processing problems, big meals like this spike insulin levels …especially if that brunch is carb-heavy.
When you eat any meal, you break some amount of your food down into glucose, which circulates around your body as blood sugar. Your pancreas releases insulin to guide blood sugar towards cells for a power-up. When there’s too much glucose in your bloodstream (ahem, when you eat a big meal), it’s stored as fat and your insulin levels spike dramatically for as long as two hours after the meal. Long term, this can increase insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. The more big meals you have, the faster you’ll get hungrier when you’re done, as your amped up insulin response will bring your glucose levels down so low, you’ll feel prematurely hungry.
So, big meals = not good.
But I’ve gained weight by snacking before
Who hasn’t? Most snacks you can buy in the vending machine are full of salt, carbs and sugar, not to mention hydrogenated oils and preservatives, all of which wreak their own special kind of havoc on your insulin levels and arteries while offering nothing nutritionally.
Effective snacking is about making smarter choices
The best snacks share a few key features:
-Enough calories and fat to stop cravings while not so much of either that you consume a full meal.
-Made from nutrient-rich, preservative-free ingredients (real food).
-Contain enough whole grain, fiber and/or protein to make ‘em stick.
*A few good choices include:
Snap peas, carrots and other veggies. This is good for the “quantity” snacker, because you can have a lot without adding up that calorie count. Dip in hummus for an extra treat.
Almonds. Chock full of vitamins and minerals almonds are arguably the healthiest nut. Grab a handful in the afternoon for a tasty shot of protein.
Small amounts of fruit or whole grains. While you have to be wary of overdoing it, small quantities of fruit or whole grain will load you up with fiber and nutrients at once.
A balanced approach. Take a look at scrumptious-looking snack, Cashew Strawberry Crunch. Sure, it looks and tastes great, but what it does on a more basic level is offer a little protein, some easy to access energy in the form of whole grains, and a nice dollop of protein, healthy fats and nutrients to get you through the day. What’s more, the protein will help your body better process the sugar in the strawberries than if you ate them on their own.
The best snacks give you only what you need and no more. They help your body power up and process nutrients rather than overwhelming it. Snack often, snack well, and your body will reap the benefits.