Snacking is often associated with unhealthy eating, unnecessary grazing and if consumed in excess, can lead to weight gain. However, when snacking is integrated into eating regimes correctly, it can help keep you fuelled throughout the day.
There are many benefits to snacking–firstly, it can be an effective way to enhance your diet nutritionally and an opportunity to incorporate recommended food groups into your diet. It can also help to maintain blood sugar levels and appetite, and concentration levels and reduce overindulging at meal times. Carb-rich snacks in particular keep you feeling alert and satisfied for longer.
People tend to forget that carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy for the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord. Carbs are also the foundation of long-lasting energy, assist with protecting muscles and provide the body with the essential nutrients.
What is a carbohydrate?
‘Carbs’ refer to sugars, starches and fibres which break down inside the body to create glucose (sugar) before being absorbed into the bloodstream. The brain depends on glucose as its main source of energy and is critical for brain function–it is also one of three kinds of macronutrients in large quantities, as well as a protein and fats.
What kind of carbs should we eat throughout the day?
It is important to remember that not all carbs are the same. While processed foods can be calorific and fattening, whole, complex carbohydrates that have a low glycaemic index are great for snack inclusion. These carbs are less processed and absorbed slowly into the body, meaning they stabilise blood sugar levels, helping to keep energy levels up throughout the day. Complex carbohydrates can be found in most food groups including dairy, fruit, grains, legumes and starchy vegetables.
Foods rich in carbohydrates can have many other benefits. Many carb sources such as broccoli, lentils and rice are high in dietary fibre, which is vital for keeping the digestive system balanced, and may help prevent constipation and indigestion. Carbohydrates can also be effective in maintaining and controlling weight including them as part of your snacking regime it can help satisfy hunger and help to avoid reaching for unhealthy, sugary snacks.
Excellent carb-fuelled snacks:
Vegetables including corn, peas, brussel sprouts, sweet potato and potatoes–all healthy wholegrains full of vitamin C and fibre
Fruits including bananas, strawberries, melon, blackberries and raspberries