Doctors Agree: These 4 Snacking Mistakes Almost Always Lead To Weight Gain

- Maintaining a healthy weight is all about creating a balanced diet for yourself, hydrating frequently, exercising regularly and having a consistent sleep schedule, experts say. 

We checked in with doctors, health and weight loss experts for tips and suggestions when it comes to preventing weight gain, and what four common mistakes often lead to it. 

Read on for insight from Dr. Hector Perez, MD, board-certified general and bariatric surgeon at Bariatric Journal, Dr. Virginia Blackwell, MD, health expert at Eve Mag, Lisa Richards, registered nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet and Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, at Balance One Supplements.

Mindless Snacking

While eating when you are truly hungry is important, snacking when you are not could lead to weight gain, Perez explains. 

"One reason why mindless snacking can lead to weight gain is that when people snack mindlessly, they often eat more calories than they would if they ate a regular meal," he notes. 

This, Perez says, is because when people snack, they "often don't pay attention to how much they're eating, and they end up eating more than they planned."

Additionally, he says that when people snack mindlessly, they're "more likely to choose unhealthy foods, which can also lead to weight gain."

Richards agrees, and points out that "mindlessly scrolling at night may also lead to mindless eating as well." 

Snacking on high-calorie and low nutrient foods while scrolling on your phone at night could be causing weight gain, she stresses. 

"If you are going to scroll and snack, opt for foods that are nutrient-dense and add to your health rather than take away from it," she advises.

Snacking On Too Much Sugar

As explained before, what you choose for your snacks matters, and eating sugary foods often can not only lead to weight gain, but other health drawbacks, Blackwell says. 

While donuts and other sugary treats may be delicious and provide a quick energy boost, Blackwell acknowledges, they also come with some health risks. 

"Eating sugary foods often is linked with weight gain simply because they are high in calories and sugar which may champion your body to crave more refined carbs, that may result in obesity a significant risk factor to health conditions such as type 2 diabetes," she says.

Additionally, these foods may not only lead to weight gain, but also "increase your risk of heart disease and limit your mobility because they are high in calories and contain saturated fat." 

If you are already trying to reduce your weight, it is important to "limit your intake of refined grains and saturated fats that may increase the risk of health problems after 50 years of age," she advises. 

Perez agrees, and says to "make an effort to choose healthy snacks, and limit your snacking to no more than a few times per day." 

A good tip, he adds, is to only fill up your pantry with healthy snacks so that you're "less likely to reach for unhealthy options when you're feeling hungry."

Overeating Healthy Snacks

If you're already aware of what healthy snacks make you feel energized and full, Best warns that you could still overeat these foods, which could lead to weight gain. 

"Overeating on healthy snacks that add up quickly in calories," she says, adding "these include items like baked chips, dried fruit, and even dips like hummus or nut butters." 

When it comes to snacking, Best deems it vital to "continue to listen to your hunger and fullness cues rather than mindlessly snacking on would-be healthy foods."

One example that she provides is baked chips. "Baked chips are considered a healthy snack, but these are still highly processed and made with questionable ingredients," she points out. 

"The fact that they are low in fat also makes it easy to consume them in large quantities at one sitting." 

A rapid increase in glucose, she continues, will occur and this increases the body's "fat-storing rate."

Eating Salty Foods Before Bed

While Richards notes that nighttime snacking is "not uncommon" and does "not have to lead to weight gain or bloat," unfortunately, there are some common pre-bedtime snacking mistakes that can lead to added pounds or bloating the next morning. 

"Sodium causes water retention which leads to bloat," she explains, and "eating high salt foods at night, even those that are seemingly healthy, can cause excess weight the next day due to bloat." 

Additionally, Richards says that dairy products are "inflammatory leading to gastrointestinal discomfort," so your nighttime "bowl of ice cream or cereal" may be causing weight gain or bloating.

Best agrees, and says that the best snacks are those that contain two qualities, "low in calories and rich in satiating nutrients, fiber and protein." 

These two nutrients keep you feeling "satisfied and full between meals," she adds, to prevent overeating at mealtimes. 

"My snack choices change in the evening to help with sleep and prevent weight gain," Best continues, as "snacking at night does not have to equal inevitable weight gain and can also serve a purpose in helping you get quality rest." 

She concludes that "eating foods that contain natural melatonin right before you are ready to attempt sleep can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly," and that "almonds, walnuts, and bananas are prime examples of these easy to snack on foods rich in melatonin."

Author: Marissa Matozzo


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