A little something between meals can be good for you. Done right, snacking sustains your energy levels and provides an opportunity to get important nutrients. It can even help maintain your weight, as snacking curbs your appetite, which can help prevent overeating at meals.
Smart snackers know how to nosh at the right time -- every three or four hours -- and on the right stuff. "The balance for lasting energy is to have a complex carbohydrate with protein and fibre," says Desiree Nielsen, a registered dietitian in Vancouver. Make a veggie or fruit the star of your snack, since they cover the good carbs and fibre and are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Portion size depends on how much you consume at meals. If you nibble lightly at breakfast and lunch, then snacks should be mini meals with 300 to 400 calories, says Nielsen. "If you eat three solid meals a day, have smaller snacks with 150 to 200 calories max, such as a piece of fruit and a few nuts," she says.
Since most vending machines don't dispense apples and carrots (yet!), it's helpful to tote your own so you're less likely to reach for junk food. Here are a few easy and delicious combos to try.
Food-magnet design, Caitlin Doherty.