I see many coaches posting recipes for healthy snacks. To me, this is rather counterproductive. A healthy snack is not healthy. It remains a snack and does not solve the underlying problem. Does this mean you cannot have a snack every once in a while? Sure you can! But please, eat a good one. Personally, I always choose a good chocolate bar over a healthy smoothie Why...? Read this blog.
Let's add some nuance
Of course, a cucumber is healthier than a chocolate bar and I would never advise you to add chocolate bars as a snack to your weekly menu. So, what is it that gets me so aggravated all the time? This:
I am baking a healthy cake because I want to lose some weight. I use honey, dates and figs because they are so healthy when you compare them to sugar.
I disagree. I say this: Bake a lovely, tasty, 1 million calories chocolate cake!
This might come as a shock to you but it makes total sense if you know the reasons why.
- It tastes amazing, a healthy cake never gives you that true OMG! feeling.
- You decrease the chance of overeating.
- It gives you the dopamine fix you want (you don't need it but that is a whole other story)
- It tastes real.
Is a healthy cake actually healthy?
No, sorry, it is not.
Of course, you added figs and nuts and all kinds of stuff that has a higher value when it comes to nutrients but the main ingredients are still sugar and fat. Your body processes these 'healthy' sugars the same way as regular sugar. It all ends up as glucose. Which means, you still get an enormous amount of sugar/glucose in your system. This sugar is obviously too much for your body and therefore it stores it as glycogen or fat. So did you really win anything by it? Not really, maybe at best an insignificant amount of nutrients. Not really worth it, if you ask me. Especially when you take into consideration that a healthy cake never tastes as good and sinful as the 'bad' cake.
Can I eat an unhealthy snack?
Yes and no. If you want to lose weight it is important to get your 'fat-burning-system' going. You will only achieve this when you give your body time to actually start burning fat. Leaving at least 4 hours between every meal gives the body a chance to activate the 'fat-burning-system' according to Harvard Health Publishing (2015). When you plan your meals according to the, at least, 4 hours schedule you will notice there is not enough time for more than 4 meals a day.
To sum it all up; no, you cannot have a healthy or unhealthy snack when you want to burn fat. When you do decide that you really want/need a snack, then, please, take a real, diabetes-inducing snack, for that will actually give you the satisfaction you were looking for.
Where does this craving for sugar come from?
This craving for sugar/salt or fatty goodness can be caused by various reasons. I'll name the 2 most common ones.
Firstly, when you eat something sugary/fatty/salty the brain ends up releasing dopamine which is a substance that gives you a happy/relaxed feeling. When you experience this once, your body/brain learns that sugar/fat/salt gives you this happy feeling. The next time you are feeling sad, unhappy or nervous you subconsciously start hankering for a big bag of crisps. This might explain why, after a stressful day at the office or a break up with your partner, you start eating chocolate, crisps or candy. It reduces stress and gives you that happy feeling. It is a very primitive reaction to an emotional issue.
Also, when your blood sugar level drops (after around 2 hours after a meal) your body gives off signals that tell you to eat something sugary again to get the glucose level up. Although this might seem like a good reason for eating something, it is however not the best choice. As you want to burn fat, you need to give your body the opportunity to do so. This means that you need to leave at least 4 hours between meals. Yes, at first you experience some discomfort but that will pass. It is your body choosing the easy way out. It has to learn there is a muffin top it can use as an energy source. If you want to read more about the topic, click here
A real cake tastes amazing, a healthy cake never gives you that real OMG feeling.
When you take a bite out of a chocolate cake, the texture, the moisty sensation and the sheer bliss that comes along with it give you a great feeling. A healthy cake just does not do that. It is always a bit too grainy or dry. It just does not have that decadent feeling. Which leads to an unsatisfied need. That brings me to my second point.
You decrease the chance of overeating.
When you eat a healthy cake like I just described, it does not 100% give you what you want. It makes you eat maybe 2 or 3 slices of cake instead of the 1 slice of the super amazing one. Also, by thinking you baked a healthy snack, you are easily tempted to eat another slice since it is 'healthy'. You tell yourself it is actually a good thing to eat the cake because you believe it will benefit you which leads to you consuming even more calories. A sinful cake actually makes you a bit more careful and conscience.
It gives you the dopamine fix you want and it tastes real
Getting your dopamine fix this way is something that would get a big NO from me, but as I am still human 😉 I totally understand that sometimes we just WANT something. Which is ok if you just indulge yourself only every once in a while.
I can imagine you having the worst week ever and on Friday night you decide you need some chocolate therapy. (not the way to solve the problem, but I feel you!) You need that explosion of sweetness and utter bliss in your mouth. After all, the thick moist cake is part of your therapy. That overwhelmingly warm and blissful feeling you get after a bite of an amazing chocolate cake is one of the best feelings in the world. A healthy cake that is just a tad dry and way too grainy just does not cut it.
The same goes for diet coke. Of course, if you drink 3 litres a day I would recommend the diet version but if you drink it just because you want the taste of it. Drink the real thing! That will actually satisfy you. (This does not mean I recommend drinking cola light all the time, by the way.)
So, snacking is, in my opinion, never ok when you want to lose some weight. If you feel that you should -let's face it, we all need some chocolate in our life every once in a while- then just go for the real deal and enjoy it to the fullest. Do not take a surrogate because you think it is healthier. It just isn't.
Harvard Health Publishing (July, 2015) Eating Frequency And Weight Loss. Retrieved 8 January 2020.https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/eating-frequency-and-weight-loss
Published by: SanenChris in Uncategorized