I’m never one to turn down a shortcut. Habit foods are meant to be just that - a shortcut to bypass meal planning stress. BUT, there’s a popular shortcut right now that I am not a fan of: “bites.”
There are lots of bite-sized health foods out there and because they are marketed as being “good for you” there may be temptation to use them as a weight loss solution - a quick “healthy” snack or meal replacement. There are three main problems:
1) Bites are calorie-dense, and 2) they don’t really fill you up.
Small and packed with energy to keep you going, calorie-dense foods aren’t overly filling. Delicious and easily chewed, bites go down fast, but lack the fiber, water, and sheer substance to give you a sense of fullness that might slow you down. And, that’s exactly why they are are great for hiking, and the worst possible choice for people who are trying to lose weight.
The whole idea of weight loss is to allow our body to use stored fuel for energy. When you eat “real food” - even something as simple as an apple and peanut butter, the time it takes to chew, plus the fiber and water, buy you precious time to feel satisfied before taking in more calories. The name of the game is taking in small, energy appropriate portions at each meal (2-4 hours apart) to keep your blood sugar level, your metabolism humming along and also create the need for your body to utilize stored fat for fuel as well.
If your food isn’t satisfying fast enough, most often people grab “just a little” more…. And more... And before they know it, they’ve grazed their way to the next meal - which they eat in their usual portion. And by then, you are most likely way over the number of calories you needed for an average day. All those “just a littles” rob your body of the need to turn to fat stores for energy and, in fact, often just end up adding to your energy stores.
3) Bites are often dried-fruit based.
When you eat too much dried-fruit like dates (and how much is too much varies by person), it’s like injecting yourself with a big dose of fructose. Fructose isn’t like sucrose (table sugar) - which goes straight into your bloodstream (causing its own set of issues). Fructose is processed in the liver first. If you don’t need the extra energy (this is where the calorie dense part comes in), it will be stored as fat. Also, some people’s bodies lack enough receptors in their digestive tract to get the fructose to their liver in the first place. This excess sugar continues down the digestive system, essentially feeding bacteria there which causes gas, bloating, and other unpleasantness.
If weight loss is your goal, it’s always better to eat simple, real food throughout the day so you avoid dreaded grazing. When in doubt, go for smaller portions of truly satisfying foods that would end up on your lunch or dinner plate. Or, if you want something sweet, a plain piece of fresh fruit, full of filling fiber and water, you’ll be much better off.
More on my real-world, real food approach to food can be found in my book THE WAY IN: 5 Winning Strategies to Lose Weight, Get Strong and Lift Your Life - available now! Check out the “Books” tab on this website.