High-calorie snacks filled with fats and sugars contribute to the extra calories that find their way into our daily diet. Protein packed bars, drinks, soups, and nuts are far superior to other snacks because of the basic differences between protein, sugars and fats.
Protein is more satisfying than sugar or fat because of specific signals it sends to the brain. When we snack on foods containing protein instead of foods loaded with sugars and fats, the body feels more full which helps to control appetite between meals. Controlling hunger helps you cut calories and manage your weight.
A second reason to opt for a snack filled with protein is its thermogenic effect. This refers to the metabolic tax a food puts on the body after we eat it – that is, the amount of calories it takes for the body to process what we’ve eaten. This metabolic tax for protein is much higher than for sugar or fat because the body uses more energy to digest it. This means that when you choose protein over the other two, you are burning more calories during the process of digestion.
Finally, protein snacks help support the body's need to replenish the building blocks of muscle tissue. Muscle is important for our daily activities and muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does.
So the next time you reach for a snack, choose a protein-rich bar, drink or soup. Avoid high-calorie chips, cookies, candies and sweets - they offer little nutritional value to the body and aren’t nearly as filling as protein-rich snacks.
David Heber, M.D. serves as chairman of the Herbalife Nutrition Institute and chairman of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board.