If you’re on a mission to start eating healthier and improving your health, one thing that you need to come up with is a good game plan for both your meals as well as your snacks. Many people do quite well with figuring out the best meals to be eating throughout the day, but when it comes to snacking, they often fall down. They find themselves turning to quick and convenient food that they pick up on the run.
Vending machine snacks, convenience store snacks, or simply packaged snacks like granola bars, cereal bars, or crackers that have been purchased ahead of time are the usual go-to choices. While these snacks may be easy to stash in your bag and pull out when needed, they are not going to be providing you with the nutrition that you need.
Figuring out some smarter snacks to serve up throughout your day will help ensure that you promote optimal nutritional success. They will also keep you energised until your next meal time, rather than offering you a quick burst of energy followed by a large energy crash.
When selecting your snacks, there are three guidelines that you want to follow. These are:
- The snack should contain around 200-300 calories to help keep your body weight in check (unless you are actively aiming to build muscle, in which case you can eat more)
- The snack should be made from as many wholesome foods as possible
- The snack should contain at least 10 grams of protein to help sustain you until your meal
If you can meet these three requirements, you have a smart ‘mini-meal’ to get you through the day. Let’s look at six examples to consider next time hunger strikes.
An Apple With Cheese
If you need a fast snack on the run, it doesn’t get much easier than this. Grabbing an apple and pairing that with a few slices of reduced fat cheddar cheese will get all your food groups covered. The apple will provide some carbohydrates along with dietary fiber to give you the energy boost you need while the cheese will supply the protein along with a good dose of dietary fat for sustained energy. By opting for a reduced fat cheddar cheese variety, you can keep the fat content to a reasonable level while increasing your protein intake.
As an added benefit, the cheese will also offer a good dose of calcium, which will help strengthen your bones and ensure optimal muscle contractions take place as well. If cheese isn’t your thing, you can just as easily opt for a tablespoon or two of natural peanut butter instead. Both of these work great in combination with an apple.
The next smart snack to consider adding to your diet plan are high energy bites. These can be quickly made when you have a few minutes to spare and then stashed in you fridge until you need to eat them. They are also very handy to bring with you as you move through your day in a Tupperware container.
To prepare them, simply mix together about half a cup of raw oatmeal, half a cup of vanilla protein powder, half a cup of almond butter, along with two tablespoons of honey. Add a tablespoon or two of dried cranberries, a tablespoon of sunflower seeds, along with a tablespoon of dried, unsweetened coconut. Stir this all together and then form into bite sized balls. Keep in mind these are quite calorie dense, so do limit yourself to just one or two at a time to keep hunger at bay. For those who are actively looking to build muscle, these are also a great snack as they are very balanced in carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fat.
Whipping up a tuna salad is the next easy snack that you can easily prepare first thing in the morning and take with you for later on in the day. Tuna is an excellent source of protein and is ready when you are – simply open the can and you’re set.
Mix one can of tuna with a quarter to half of a mashed avocado along with some finely diced onion and green onion. If you like, you can add a tablespoon of fat free mayonnaise to the mix. Now serve this either on top of a bed of spinach leaves or in a whole wheat pita if you want to get more carbohydrates in depending on your total target calorie intake. The avocado in the tuna salad will help to prolong your energy levels while keeping hunger at bay thanks to the fact it contains healthy fats along with dietary fiber.
Poached Eggs On Toast
The next smart snack that you can make when at home and need a quick bite before a meal is a poached egg on a slice of toast.
Some people are still under the impression that whole eggs are unhealthy due to the cholesterol content they contain. However, as long as you don’t have any pre-existing heart health issues and are keeping your intake to just one or two a day, they can be a perfectly healthy addition to your diet plan. What’s more is that whole eggs are loaded with nutrition as they’ll contain selenium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, along with iron. All of these nutrients are key for optimal health for the active individual.
To make this snack even healthier, rather than using regular bread, you’ll want to instead serve up some Ezekiel bread, which is rich in complex carbohydrates, and high in dietary fiber. Go for one egg and one slice of toast and dress it up with a sliced tomato or any other vegetables as desired. A little boiled spinach is another great option as well.
Turkey Pita Pocket
Another terrific way to energize your day is with a turkey pita pocket. Just like tuna, turkey is a very lean source of protein and will help provide all the amino acids your body needs to rebuild and repair muscle tissue optimally.
To prepare this, mix together 3 oz. or so of turkey along with a tablespoon or two of fat free mayonnaise and then add in some finely diced celery along with a few halved red grapes, a tablespoon of dried cranberries, and a tablespoon or two of slivered almonds. Stuff this in a whole wheat pita pocket and then add a handful of spinach leaves to the mixture.
This snack will not only provide the protein, but you’ll also get some dietary fiber from the pita along with the grapes and almonds and then take in some antioxidants from the grapes and cranberries as well. The almonds will also supply a small dose of healthy fats to keep your energy high long-term and ensure that you don’t get hungry until your next meal. If you don’t have any turkey, you can just as easily substitute chicken in for this recipe.
Home Made Trail Mix
Finally, the last great snack to prepare yourself when you need something energising on the go is a home-made trail mix recipe. Traditional store-bought trail mix’s should be avoided as they’re rich in calories, fat, and often sugar, but by making your own, you can control everything that goes into the recipe, making sure it’s one that will fuel your body well. Make a large batch of this mix up and store it in your pantry for those times when you need a quick energy-boosting snack to munch on as you run out the door.
To prepare your trail mix, you’ll want to have a mixture of whole wheat cereal squares, almonds and/or peanuts, some dried cranberries and raisins, sunflower seeds, along with a few pieces of very dark chocolate.
This mix will be very high in calories, so a quarter cup is all you should need to fuel your day well. The nuts in it will provide the protein along with healthy fats and just a little fiber, while the whole wheat cereal squares will give you the complex carbohydrates you need while also bringing more dietary fiber into the mix. To top this off, the dark chocolate provides a wealth of antioxidants and will satisfy your craving for something sweet, especially when combined with the dried cranberries and raisins. The sunflower seeds will give you a good dose of zinc, which is a mineral most people aren’t currently getting enough of in their diet, so that too adds to the nutritional value.
So keep these snacks in mind and start bringing them into your meal plan more often. Aim to eat two to three snacks per day along with your three main course meals. These are all a great way to fuel your body right without missing a beat on your diet.
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