Would you believe me if I told you eaten more often can help you lose weight? Well, few people do. I’m sure images of buffets and junk food pop into their mind, that’s why. But, eating a healthy snack every two to three hours can actually help you lose overall weight and trim your waistline.
Of course, what you choose plays an important role as well. For years I’ve been telling people to snack on raw, unsalted almonds. And new research supports this choice.
In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, scientists at California’s City of Hope National Medical Center discovered that overweight participants who snacked on almonds lost abdominal weight. The average person in the study had a 14 percent waistline reduction simply by snacking on 70 almonds daily. Of course, the study participants also followed a healthful diet along with eating the almonds throughout the day.
The scientists equate the results to three things:
1. Almonds eaten every few hours ensure that blood sugar levels are stabilized. When blood sugar levels are stable, your body stops pumping out hormones that tell it to hoard fat. Yes, that’s correct, sugary snacks and not eating frequently enough have the same effect. They cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate rapidly. When they are high insulin is released to counter the damaging effects of high blood sugar. This causes blood sugar levels to drop quickly–usually too low. Then you feel hungry again and may crave unhealthy foods. Insulin and other hormones released during this time signal your body to hoard fat because it thinks you may be starving.
2. Because almonds are rich in protein and fiber they increase the sense that you are “full.” When people feel less hungry they usually eat less, making it easier to lose weight.
3. Almonds are rich in calcium. Calcium is an important mineral that has been shown in numerous studies to speed weight loss.
How to Get More Almonds Into Your Diet
There are many ways to enjoy the weight loss benefits of almonds: switch to almond milk for your cereal, smoothies, or in your baking. Snack on raw, unsalted almonds throughout the day (70 was the magic number in the study). The healthiest way to enjoy almonds is to obtain certified raw almonds (most supposedly “raw” almonds are not raw at all). Then soak them in water overnight, drain and eat the plumped up almonds throughout the day. This soaking process for at least 8 hours significantly increases nutritional content and makes them easier to digest. You can also eat almond butter on whole grain bread or crackers or on celery stalks. I prefer raw almond butter which is readily available in most health food stores.
Almonds also help build strong bones, skin, nails, teeth, and soft tissues due to their calcium content. Calcium also ensures healthy nerve signalling within the brain and between the brain and the rest of the body. Because almonds are also high in magnesium, almonds also help relax the nervous system and muscles, reducing the effects of stress on our bodies. Magnesium increases energy production and is involved in over 400 bodily processes.
But, almonds aren’t the only healthy weight loss snack. So are pumpkin seeds, raw walnuts (loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids!), sunflower seeds (also rich in calcium), or other high fiber and high protein snack.
Almonds are a member of the Rosaceae (rose) family. Other members of the family include peaches, plums, cherries, apples and apricots.