Revamp Your Snack Habits to Lose Weight

Medically reviewed in September 2021

Have you replaced sit-down meals with snacks? If so, you're not alone. A recent survey found that 40% of Americans prefer snacking throughout the day over three square meals. Snacks are great -- when they help you stay slim (or even lose weight) rather than add belly fat. The key to smart snacking is knowing when and what to nibble. Here are 5 tips to revamp your snack habits:

  1. Skip mid-morning snacks. A recent study of women on diets found that those who didn't have a mid-morning snack lost 4% more weight than morning noshers. Why? The gap between breakfast and lunch typically isn't long, and you're probably not really hungry for something by mid-morning (but someone brought in doughnuts and . . . well, you know how that story ends), which brings us to our next strategy.
  2. Follow the 5-hour rule. If there's more than 5 hours between meals, go ahead and have a snack. The break between lunch and dinner often is longer than 5 hours, and a late-afternoon snack will satisfy your appetite so you're less likely to overeat at dinner. The same study also found that afternoon nibblers tend to eat more fruits and vegetables compared to those who skip an afternoon snack, so well-planned afternoon snacks can help boost your nutritional bottom line, too.
  3. Add some protein. It helps you stay satisfied. Plus, protein helps you build muscle so you burn more calories and lose more weight. Good protein candidates include plain, fat-free Greek yogurt with walnuts, a hard-boiled egg, or peanut butter on celery or whole-grain crackers.
  4. Revamp your snack lineup. Clean out your pantry, fridge, and desk drawer at work. Toss out anything that has more than 4 grams of sugar per serving. Restock with healthy snacks, such as nuts, whole-grain crackers, fat-free yogurt, fruit, and cut-up veggies. If healthy stuff is on hand, you're less likely to visit the vending machine. (Pistachios vs. Pretzels: Which is the best snack?)
  5. Eat the same snack every day. Variety may be the spice of life, but it can spell trouble for your bottom line. A new study from Cornell University finds that the greater the variety of foods we eat, the more calories we gobble, so find your favorite healthy snack combo and stick to that.

More On

Should I Avoid Carbohydrates When Trying to Lose Weight?

video

Should I Avoid Carbohydrates When Trying to Lose Weight?
Should you avoid carbohydrates when you're trying to lose weight? No, we love carbohydrates, we love wholly pasta and whole grain bread and kinwa and ...
Burn More Calories with This Sandwich Choice

article

Burn More Calories with This Sandwich Choice
Energy used for digestion accounts for a good chunk of your daily calorie burn. And you can boost that burn even higher just by choosing whole-grain b...
6 Low-Calorie Foods To Buy at Trader Joe's

slideshow

6 Low-Calorie Foods To Buy at Trader Joe's
Cauliflower pizza crust and other prepackaged foods that won’t blow your diet.
Why Should I Include Protein in My Breakfast?

video

Why Should I Include Protein in My Breakfast?
I like high protein breakfast for they really satisfy me. When I tend to eat a lot carby breakfast that don't have enough of protein I get hungrier re...
While Dining in an Italian Restaurant, What Foods Should I Choose?

video

While Dining in an Italian Restaurant, What Foods Should I Choose?
Italian restaurants are tough but I don't want to tell you that you can use it as an excuse to make bad choices because no matter where you are you ca...