In America, most people are raised with the idea of eating three meals a day, but what if this idea is what is fueling our obesity epidemic? Most people would agree that it is difficult to stop eating.  We often eat to the end of a plate out of etiquette.  As kids, we are taught to eat all our veggies or dinner so that we can have dessert.  This leads to poor nutrition habits that can flow over into adulthood.

What you might not know is that we don’t need to eat mounds of food.  You will know this is true if you have ever felt sluggish and tired after eating.  Food is fuel, it is supposed to energize and refresh you.  If it doesn’t, you are eating the wrong foods.  It’s time to snack smarter.  Instead, consider adopting a snacking system where you can eat delicious foods throughout the day, satisfying your cravings, without losing your fire.

VIDEO: These 5 Foods Stop Your Ability to Digest Food

When carried out correctly, snacking can be an incredibly smart way to manage your diet and supports weight loss in healthy men.  Here is what you need to know.

Snack Smarter – Quality Over Quantity

Your snacks should not be an excuse to let your nutrition slip.  A snack is a boost to tie you over between main meals.  Look for quality snacks such as nuts, jerky, or fruits, to provide protein or complex carbs that will sustain your energy levels throughout the afternoon.  If you are not hungry then do not snack.  It may be a surprise but you do not have to fulfill a meal quota.

Snack with quality in mind.  With close to a quarter of all calories coming from snacks each day, it’s important for snacks to provide quality nutrients to act as a “bridge” between meals, giving you the energy to power through the day.

Read more: Snack Your Way to Smart Nutrition

If you are eating six snacks throughout the day, rather than three larger meals, then be sure to encompass all the key nutrients in your snacks.  This is the best way to manage your weight, and will allow you to stick to portion control.  Simply split-up your recommended daily allowances of protein, nutrients, vitamins, and fiber into manageable snack sized portions.

Tip: Eating protein frequently seems to be more important than how much you eat.  That means each meal and snack should include a bit of protein to fill you up.

Snack Smarter - Lean Protein is Best

Not all snacks are created equal, but neither is protein.  While it is true this powerhouse snack is ideal for managing your weight goals, only lean protein should be encouraged.  This means foods like white chicken (without the skin), fish, and legumes and beans should always be favored over fatty proteins that damage your health.  Red meat, for example, can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack due to its high cholesterol content.

Low fat cheese, low fat Greek yogurt, and low fat milk are all excellent sources of lean protein.  You can also follow a lean vegan protein diet by adding beans and legumes into your diet.  Chickpeas, black beans and navy beans all make fantastic additions to salads, wraps, and can be blended into dips, perfect for eating with vegetable dippers.  Avoid eating too many eggs, as they can actually increase cholesterol, but 6 a week for a healthy man is fine.

How are you snacking smart? Watch this video for 3 easy ways to step up your game