It’s easy to avoid snacking. Maybe you don’t feel hungry. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight, so you think you need to cut calories, and snacking seems like the obvious thing to cut out of your daily eating habits.
Snacking is just as important to a health and fitness regimen as exercising. Ideally, you should have two healthy snacks each day.
Snacking for Energy.
If you often find yourself feeling sleepy or low on energy in the afternoon, your body needs an energy boost. But don’t go grabbing that chocolate bar or bag of chips – your body needs a midday snack that contains good fats and protein to raise and sustain your energy level. Here are some good snack ideas for you to choose from to get that midday boost:
- A small apple or banana, sliced, with a tablespoon of peanut butter. The natural sugars in the fruit take longer to metabolize than sugars found in candy, and peanut butter provides protein that is required to create long-lasting energy levels.
- A quarter of a cup of nuts and dried fruit. This slow-burning mixture provides protein, good fats (fats aren’t always bad!) and plenty of fibre, all in one delicious package. But be careful – eating too much of these carbohydrates can cause low blood sugar and make you feel even sleepier or more sluggish. Keep your portions controlled.
- One tablespoon of hummus spread on four whole-grain crackers. Hummus is made from garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas), which makes it a great energy booster and an excellent source of fibre. The complex carbs in the whole-grain crackers will help fill you up without dragging you down.
Snacking for Weight Management.
Even when you’re trying to lose weight, you still need to snack so you stay satiated between meals and are less likely to over-eat during meals or later at night. Be conscious of what you eat. If your goal is to lose weight, you’ll want low calorie, low carb snack options with protein. If you are trying to gain weight or need to replenish energy after a strenuous workout, you need a snack that contains protein and a starch, like rice or sweet potatoes to replenish the energy stores. Some options include:
- Vegetables with a dressing made from Greek yogurt for dipping
- Plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit
- Half an avocado with a few slices of lean deli meat
Snacking for Health.
Keep a variety of tasty, nutritious and ready-to-eat snacks on hand. This will help you avoid the temptation of eating whatever is quickly available. Choosing the proper foods and having a variety of choices will ensure that you always have a healthy snack option and you won’t get bored of what you’re eating. Other snacks that are packed with goodness:
- Egg salad is an excellent source of protein and can be enjoyed on a bell pepper or a whole-grain cracker.
- A cheese stick offers both protein and calcium.
- Carrot sticks are a great serving of veggies.
- Canned tuna is another great option for protein – try it on a whole-grain cracker or a leaf of romaine lettuce.
- A handful of almonds is a well-rounded snack.
Do you snack? How often and what’s your favourite healthy snack item? Do you have trouble implementing snacking into your daily routine?
Share your experience, tips and snack foods in the comments!