Have you ever wondered why you can eat a supposedly nutritious snack or meal and still not feel satisfied? Take a look around at the favourite snack foods: muffins, crackers, granola bars, fruit leather, a piece of fruit…what do they have in common? Nearly all of their energy comes from carbohydrates.
Here’s the problem: Carbohydrates are not digested in the stomach. That’s right; the stomach does NOTHING to break down or absorb sugars and starches. In fact, their digestion begins in the mouth, gets put on hold in the acidic environment of the stomach, and gets completed in the small intestine. Even complex carbohydrates like oats will digest much faster than protein and fats, so if your snack or meal is all-carb, it won’t give you that satisfying ‘full-stomach’ feeling.
The dangers of carb-based snacking
If your stomach isn’t full, you’re more likely to over-eat. If it’s a bag of baby carrots, it’s all carbs so you’ll not feel full for long. If you keep eating, your insulin levels increase more and more, and all these excess carbs will be stored for a short while, then converted to fat!
To curb your carb-binging, make sure there’s some protein or fat with your muffin, your carrots, or your apple. Nuts, cheese and eggs often make good quick accompaniments, and will provide appetite satisfaction while stabilizing blood sugars. I think what you’ll find is you’ll end up ‘needing’ less carbohydrates once your snacks are more balanced in this way. Happy snacking!