Your “quick working lunch” is contributing to your waistline. It’s full of sugars that spike your levels, simple carbs that won’t hold you over until dinner, and may even be contributing to insulin resistance.
When done properly, snacks and small meals will increase satiety, prevent overeating, and help regulate your blood sugar levels. Snacking is part of any major diet, with a 2010 study by “The Journal of Nutrition” noting that about 97 percent of Americans snack on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, the problem with “quick work lunches” is that they consist of starches and simple carbs that will only make you feel satisfied for a moment before you feel like eating once again. These meals can also be full of sugars that will spike your sugar levels, causing you to “crash” at work, making you feel sluggish and unproductive.
Unfortunately, there are other frustratingly common ways that you may be doing quick work lunches and snacks wrong.
Sugars Are Hidden Everywhere
You are eating about 156 pounds of sugar a year – and your quick, microwavable lunches are contributing to it. These sugars are manufactured into the products to make them as palatable as possible. The caveat is that you are now eating sugar without even knowing it.
Hidden sugars are found in popular snacks like yogurts, granola bars, and even some of your favorite lunchtime smoothies. Over time, these hidden sources of sucrose add to the 3,500 calories needed to make one pound of body fat.
One of the best ways to minimize your consumption of hidden sugars is to familiarize yourself with food labels. Sugar takes different forms – the most popular being high fructose corn syrup. However, there are up to 30 code words for sugar that you need to be aware of.
The omnipresence of sugar does not mean that you need to forego your favorite snacks – but it may require some preparation. Instead of purchasing sugary yogurts with premixed fruits and sweet syrups, make your own with plain yogurt and slices of your favorite fruit.
Many lunchtime smoothies are water-based, with juice being used for taste. However, liquefied sugar in juice allows your body to quickly absorb it, increasing insulin levels. Instead of water-based smoothies, use a thicker base like plain yogurt. The proteins will help you feel fuller for longer, with research showing that even the consistency of snacks can influence your appetite.
A 2013 study served shakes to several men while measuring satiety. Guys who drank the watery shakes felt hungrier faster, while those who drank thicker shakes didn’t eat as much – this was true regardless of the nutritional content of the smoothie. Just swapping out a sugar-rich juice for yogurt can be significantly more satisfying.
What You Drink with Your Lunch Also Matters
Yes – carbonated drinks will make you feel longer in the short term; however, they have several side effects.
The artificial sweeteners used in carbonated drinks can increase your tongue’s threshold to taste sweet food items. This phenomenon inadvertently forces you to consume even richer foods. Instead of drinking a carbonated drink, refuel with sparkling water. It will still provide the familiar mouth-feel of soda, without the unnecessary sugar.
How to Make Lunch the Right Way
Cut back on careless eating by being more mindful of your meal. Simply being aware of the aromas, textures, and the emotional impact of your lunch can have a surprising effect.
In the past two decades, research has pointed that mindful eating can help reduce overeating and binge eating. Mindful eating does not start and end with food consumption – it starts in the kitchen by preparing nutrient-dense meals that you can carry on the go.
A healthy, satisfying lunch needs a source of low-fat protein for satiety and complex carbs to keep your glycogen stores full. Some of the best sources of proteins and carbs include meals packed with legumes, nuts, beans and particularly fish. While I was doing research for my article on the best fish oil supplements I found some some great insight into the benefits of fish oil.
Foods rich in probiotics can also help with making you feel fuller for longer as well. Found in supplements and fermented food items, probiotics help reinforce the positive flora in the gut. Probiotics aid with weight regulation by assisting your body’s ability to break down fiber and short-chain fatty acids. Yogurt is a great probiotic-rich snack.
To save time, deliberately make enough dinner the day before that will allow you to bring some to work. Leftovers give you the option to include other food items, giving you options while still having a nutritious base.
Be more cognizant of your food options and make quick lunches right. Even though a bit more labor intensive, prepared meals will give you the energy to be satisfied and engaged at work.
Homerun Nievera is the publisher of WorldExecutivesDigest.com. He has interests in several tech and digital businesses as director and chief strategist.