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7. Choose Fiber Snacks While Watching TV

Beyond the fact that you’re totally sedentary while watching TV, this activity tends to be damaging to health because of mindless snacking. Try to avoid all buttery and salty options. Instead, choose low-calorie, high-fiber snacks such as carrots, berries, broccoli, celery, and apple slices. Even better? Turn off the television and take a walk, go for a jog, or spend some time working outdoors to burn calories and increase your metabolism.

8. Munch on Air-Popped Popcorn

Popcorn can be very fattening when you buy it at the movies, or when you buy the packaged microwave brands. Air-popped popcorn, however, is light and healthy and provides a high amount of fiber. Remember, anything that’s difficult for your body to digest is a major metabolism booster! Get yourself an inexpensive air-popper and pop your own, adding just a dash of seasoning and light sprays of cholesterol-reducing oils. Steer clear of popping popcorn in oil or coating it in oils or butter, and you can enjoy popcorn as a nutritious snack.

9. Just Say No to Sugary Snacks

Because the hours between dinner and lunch can create a mini-fast, many crave sweets in the late afternoon. Before you reach for a candy bar, a piece of chocolate, or a brownie, seek out snacks that contain all three macronutrients—like carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Eating a low-fat piece of cheese with a few whole-wheat crackers, a cup of yogurt with strawberries or a few tablespoons of granola, or a healthy granola bar will satisfy your craving and keep your blood sugar and metabolism from crashing. Stay within the 150–200 calories range, and you’ll not only be staving off a hunger that will cause you to overeat at dinner, you’ll be priming your metabolic engine and avoiding hundreds of empty calories.

10. Eat Nutrient-Rich Fruits

Fruit’s sweet flavor comes from fructose, a naturally occurring sugar that serves as a good source of energy. Fruit is full of healthy substances such as vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, antioxidants, phyto-chemicals, and fiber, just to name a few. Citrus fruits, berries, and melons are excellent sources of vitamin C. Dried fruits are available all year long and are an excellent source of many nutrients including fiber. Almost all fruits and vegetables are good for you, but some are better than others. When it comes to fruit, apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruit, and melons are your best bets because of their high fiber and nutrient content. Researchers at Scripps Clinic found that fruit eaters ate fewer calories overall compared to those not adding fruit to their diet. Fruit can help you satisfy sugar cravings, feel full longer, and eat less.

11. Try Frozen Grapes

If you’re craving a sweet treat but don’t want to blow your healthy eating habits, throw some grapes in the freezer and munch on them a few hours later when they’re frosty. They taste like sorbet and they contain manganese, flavonoids, and B6—an excellent metabolism booster—which may lower your risk for heart disease. So you’re getting a treat that’s both healthy and sweet!

12. Make a Mango Smoothie

Mangos are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are especially high in many carotenoids, including beta-carotene, and also come loaded with magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, selenium, folic acid, zinc, and A, B, and E vitamins. And, on top of all that, they contain an enzyme that has stomach-soothing properties and helps with digestion. Add some whey protein and water or low-fat yogurt to thicken up your drink and you’ve got a super-healthy, immune-boosting, metabolism-blasting snack!

13. Make Snacks Part of Your Eating Plan for the Day

Eating daily snacks is a great way to make sure your metabolism is at its peak. Don’t grab a handful of chips or a candy bar but munch on healthy foods that provide important nutrients throughout the day. You’ll supply your body with energy and make it do a little work in the digestive process. Here’s how to snack smartly:

Choose whole-grain products: Whole grains are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, so they boost your metabolism for longer periods because they require more effort to digest.

Have a fruit or vegetable: Fruits and vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They will fill you up without adding many calories to your diet, and some may even cause your body to go into a calorie deficit in the process!

Nibble on a handful of nuts or seeds: Nuts and seeds provide protein and monounsaturated fat, so they will help you feel full longer. Just don’t eat more than a small handful because they’re also high in calories.

Try low-fat dairy products: Cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are good sources of calcium, protein, and many other vitamins and minerals, but read the labels to make sure you’re not eating added sugars.

14. Eat Smaller Portion Snacks, Not Meal-Size Ones

Snacking is not meant to be an extra meal. A healthy snack should be portion sensitive—a small amount of something nutritious—to keep the metabolic fires burning and tide you over to your next meal. Snacks should be small amounts of nutrient-dense foods ideally consisting of protein and carbohydrate. A few whole-wheat crackers with a wedge of farmer’s cheese; ¼ cup of cottage cheese with half an orange; a hard-boiled egg and half an apple; a slice of whole-wheat toast with thinly spread peanut butter, and so on—just enough to provide a steady source of energy throughout the day or to stave off hunger that would cause you to overeat at your next meal.

15. Graze Throughout the Day

Rather than downing two or three super-size meals a day, which actually trains your metabolism to slow down, eat smaller meals more frequently. Researchers have long confirmed that eating small (healthy) meals or snacks every three to four hours works well to keep your metabolism burning and churning. If you make your snacks and meals healthy, you’ll likely reduce your caloric intake at regular meals, and lose weight over the long haul. Make sure, however, that you are not choosing high-fat, high-calorie carbohydrates, such as chips or cookies.

16. Hit the Pause Button

When snacking, take a break. You know how it goes: You’re shoveling in small morsels of food and lose count of how much you’ve eaten, until suddenly you realize you ate way more than you intended to eat. Try taking a break between bites; take a physical pause and distract yourself by focusing your attention on something else. Call a friend, load the dishwasher, look for the CD you misplaced upstairs, dust the television, or do whatever it takes to stop unconsciously shoveling food into your mouth. Often, you’ll find that taking a break will help you realize that you’re no longer hungry and give you the respite you need to make a better choice.

17. Don’t Eat Before Going to Bed

Contrary to the popular idea that you shouldn’t eat after 7 P.M., the amount of calories you consume throughout the day is actually more important than when you eat them. However, it is best to eat more calories earlier in the day and make sure the last meal of the day is light on calories and fat. You can eat after 7 P.M., but keep that snack or small meal closer to 200–300 calories, and eat it at least two hours before bedtime. If you’re convinced that you need something just before bed, limit it to 100 calories and try to eat at least 30 minutes before lying down. It’s easier for your stomach to digest food while you’re still awake and sitting.

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