Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Here, she answers a few questions about choosing healthy snacks and banishing belly fat. You can learn more about her weight loss and wellness coaching programs by visiting her website Essential Nutrition for You.
What are your go-to healthy snacks?
Snacking should be a part of your daily routine for several reasons.
1. It keeps your blood sugar stable. Waiting too long causes your blood sugar to drop. Most of us start to feel low energy and light headed and then we turn to quick sugar fixes. Insulin is the hormone released when we eat sugar or to digest carbohydrates. Also, insulin is a fat storing hormone so you want to minimize spikes in your blood sugar. Keep it stable. Snacking makes that happen
2. It keeps your body fueled. Every time you eat, you make your metabolism work. Be smart. This means that you incorporate snacks as part of your strategy, not just extra calories.
3. It is a great time for added fruits and veggies or for a healthy sweet treat.
4. You need it, especially if you are active. Want you want to avoid is depriving your body of the adequate number of calories it needs/day and also waiting too long to eat. Fuel often to avoid overeating.
5. For me it is all about balance. You want to look for snacks with clean ingredients and that give your body sustainable energy. You want to avoid all artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives and ingredients. The best snacks not only taste good but are also good for you!
Here are 2 simple snacks that are easily portable and perfectly balanced that I love!
- If you are looking for a healthy snack that delivers well balanced nutrition while on-the-go, then check out Somersaults! They are a great tasting, bite-size, crunchy snack in which sunflower seeds are the #1 ingredient. What I love about this snack is that in the same 1 ounce serving, Somersaults contain the same amount of protein as a serving of almonds but with half the fat. Offered in Sea Salt, Cinnamon, Dutch Cocoa and Salty Pepper varieties, these snacks provide a wholesome and healthy alternative!
- I also love the Nuts & Spices bars from KIND Snacks. With healthy fats from the almonds, you will feel full and not heavy, giving you sustained energy. Another bonus you get all that sweet natural flavor all in 5g of sugar or less. They are also the perfect pre-workout treat if you are headed to the gym, boot-camp, or yoga class after work.
Other snack combinations I love:
- Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp. of almonds and ½ cup of blueberries.
- Hummus with veggies or pita chips
- Hardboiled eggs with a side of veggies and whole grain crackers
What advice would you give to someone looking to lose belly fat?
When it comes to slimming down, the first place we want to see change is likely in our mid-sections. While fat loss is nearly impossible in a matter of 5-7 days there are a few slimming strategies that can make a difference long term.
Pro-Carb during the day, low-carb at night:
- During the day our brain and muscle need energy and that fuel comes from carbs. Be smart with the carbs you choose. Oats, whole grains, sweet potatoes are all slow burning carbs. Another tip: Swap out your lunch carb with a piece of fruit. If you skip carbs all together, you may be more likely to binge on them later- like a bag of chips while you are on the couch.
- Low-carb at night simple means, skip the starches with dinner. Your body will look and feel leaner the next morning. If you do this consistently, this is a slimming strategy that will help you burn, lose and keep body fat off.
- Skip the soda– especially the diet soda. Not only is it loaded with chemicals and artificial sweeteners, but it can also dehydrate you. Stick with water for zero calories and maximum hydration.
- Limit alcohol- They don’t call it a beer belly for no reason. Alcohol has its own metabolizing system in the body, so when you are drinking it up, your body is working on metabolizing this first, then your meal. Not to mention the extra calories. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to flush water. You also end up urinating more afterwards leaving your body feeling dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, you tend to retain more water. So, not only are you going to gain some water weight but you will also look and feel bloated the next day- not a cute combination!
Are there any foods that you would suggest adding to your diet to help achieve a flatter tummy?
In addition to a consistent workout routine which includes cardio, core and resistance training, your diet plays a more significant influence on achieving a flatter tummy and overall body fat reduction. When you eat clean, naturally your body will work better. Eating clean should not imply eliminating food groups, cleansing, juicing, going vegan or vegetarian (unless this is your preferred eating lifestyle). It implies making balanced choices and using an effective strategy that will fuel your brain and body with energy but also promote the results you are looking for.
- Fats can be your friend: Healthy fats with a few treats here and there keep you full and from feeling deprived. When you eat healthy fats your body can burn fat and better absorb fat soluble vitamins. Fats found in meat, dairy, avocados, olive oil, and nuts are filling and add flavor to meals.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates can also work in your favor. You want to look for high fiber foods with are nutrient rich. There are also complex carbohydrates that contain both protein and carbohydrate as well as fiber: Beans, quinoa, oats, lentils, peas. When we consume carbohydrates our bodies release serotonin which is a feel good hormone. That is why most comfort foods are carbohydrates (cookies, chips, pasta, French fries, pastries.. you get the picture!). When we eat in balance and fuel our body with carbohydrates we feel good and will not likely binge or crave them excessively which can derail our progress. the main goal, is to keep things balanced and choose healthier starches more often than not- those with high fiber and nutrient rich and wholesome ingredients.
- Protein- you should include protein in every meal and snack. You want variety- fish, lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs.
Essentially you want to stick with The 1:1:1 Formula in my book. At every meal and snack you enjoy ONE serving of Protein, ONE Serving of Carbohydrate and ONE serving of Fat. Check out this amazing weight loss transformation.
Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Her book has been featured on the Today Show, in the premier issue of Dr. Oz “The Good Life” Magazine, The NY Post as well as other national outlets. Also known as “America’s Eating Strategist” Rania brings with her over 14 years of consulting and coaching experience. She is highly regarded in her industry and is frequently quoted in the media on health matters such as diet, wellness, and weight loss. She works with clients nationwide through her nutrition consulting firm, Essential Nutrition For You.
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