Snacking keeps your weight in check.

Snackers have lower body fat and more lean muscle than people who eat just two or three times a day. If you don't eat for a long time, your metabolism slows so your body can conserve energy, or calories. Eating more often gives our body a steady stream of energy, which keeps your metabolism chugging at a high level. Think of your body as a furnace -- stroke it regularly and it will work most effectively.

If you're trying to lose weight, your ideal snack should contain no more than 200 calories derived from an equal balance of protein, carbs, and fat. Protein is an important element. To break down pure protein, your body uses about 30 percent of the food's calories. Eat 150 calories worth of lean turkey, and you'll use 50 calories digesting it. And don't forget about fiber: The more your snack contains, the less you'll need to eat to feel full.

A good snack always contains a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Start with a fruit or vegetable. It is the easiest way to get the most nutrients out of the fewest calories. Then add an ounce of a protein or healthy fat (good-for-you fats include those in olives and olive oil, nuts and nut butters, and avocados). Vary your snacks to suit your goals.

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