Snacks are the major source of weight gain
Planning snacks is one of the keys to success for patients who have lost weight, reached their goal, and have kept off excess weight. Many snacks are high in simple carbohydrates and low in protein. Many protein bars, besides tasting like sawdust, contain high-index carbohydrates. Below we list some simple snacks that have a lower glycemic index, which will keep you feeling full longer and help promote either weight loss or help you maintain your weight.
Snacks that are primarily carbohydrates
A number of fruits make good choices for a snack. These represent raw fruits—not fruits in a can, not in a pie, or processed fruits. These are raw, fresh fruits:
- The Apple—one medium apple has a glycemic index of 34, and 25 grams of carbohydrate with 3.2 grams of fiber. There are a variety of apples available, from Honey Crisp to Macintosh (not the computer). They are easy to carry and a great snack.
- Grapefruit—one-half a grapefruit has a glycemic index of 25, contains 1 gram of fiber and 5 grams of carbohydrate. It is a great source of vitamin C, and other nutrients. It also makes a great snack, as it can be peeled and eaten in sections.
- Green Grapes—another great snack food. They are easy to carry and little mess. One cup of grapes has a glycemic index of 46, contains 15 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fiber. They are high in sugar content, which is why they are used to make wine. The fiber in the skin of the grape, along with its acid content, slows down digestion. Some people put the grapes in the freezer as a natural popsicle.
- A Fresh Peach—The glycemic index of a peach is 28. Peaches are easy to carry and make a wise snack in the morning or afternoon. The fiber in the peach helps slow the digestion (2 grams) and the carbohydrate content is 7 grams for a medium-size peach. Okay, so a white peach and some champagne make something I really like, but that is another story.
- One Fresh Pear—The glycemic index of a pear is 38. While the carbohydrate content of a pear is about 21 grams, the effect on blood sugar is minimal.
- One medium Plum—The glycemic index of a plum is 39. Again, the acid in the plum helps to slow down digestion and reduces the amount of sugar that enters the body. Carbohydrate content is 7 grams, and fiber is 1 gram.
It is the calories, not the carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are an essential part of any diet. But choosing the right carbohydrates, the ones that allow you to feel full for long periods of time, is essential for losing weight and maintaining your goal weight. Elimination of highly processed foods, the high-index carbohydrates, has been shown to promote weight loss, decrease the incidence of heart disease, and cancer.
Carbohydrates are not bad—and the right ones are an essential part of any meal or snack. Furthermore, unlike alcohol, where all calories consumed are absorbed, the more complex the carbohydrate, the less likely that all the calories will be absorbed. Vegetables and fruits also contain great sources of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. The iron from spinach is far more bio-available than that found in most iron pills.
Many of the “low carb” meals offered in restaurants and grocery stores contain far more calories, including a lot of fat, than simple, common-sense choices. Removing carbohydrates from meals often means that fats are substituted—increasing the total calorie content. People initially lose weight by either removing glycogen stores and water, or by cutting out highly processed snacks that are high in calories. In addition, most low-carbohydrate diets become single-food diets. Because there is a smaller variety of foods, less food is consumed.
A common sense approach to carbohydrates includes eating raw fruits and vegetables for snacks and including them in meals. These carbohydrates provide a healthy basis for meals, and promotes weight loss. In addition, these carbohydrates (non-processed, low-glycemic index carbohydrates) allow people to consume less fat, fewer calories, feel full longer, and have a better source of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients than can be found in any vitamin.