Snacking in between meals is a great way to boost your metabolism and keep you from overdoing it at mealtime. But all snacks are not created equal. I pack my bag everyday with plenty of options, so I always know I have a go-to healthy snack no matter where I am. By planning ahead, you can make sure you’ve got a healthy choice on hand for any situation.
Try packing some veggie sticks (celery, red peppers) with a high-protein dip like almond butter or hummus. The fiber from the veggies and protein from the dip will keep you going until lunch. Stay away from mayo or cream-based dips – those often have a ton of fat and cholesterol without much satisfying protein. Stick a few raisins on top and you have ants on a log!
Getting hungry before heading out to dinner
Thirst is commonly mistaken for hunger. Always check you are hydrated before ruining your appetite. Drink a large glass of water and chances are, you will be satisfied until the meal. If that doesn’t do the trick, try a glass of freshly squeezed veggie juice or a piece of high-fiber, low sugar fruit (apple, melon).
Never leave the house without a large bottle of water in hand to stay hydrated throughout the day. The options on the road can be slim, so try packing a container of tuna with some whole grain crackers or some sliced grilled chicken breast. If you must stop at a convenience store, look for unsalted nuts (like raw almonds) to supply your body with lots of protein and monounsaturated fat. STAY AWAY from processed granola bars or energy bars – those generally contain unnecessary vegetable oils and lots of carbs. Also be weary of that bag of trail mix – it can set you back almost 1000 calories!
Your sweet tooth is acting up
Resist the temptation of refined sweets like candy or cookies – these will cause your blood sugar spike, will increase your sugar cravings, and will leave you unsatisfied. Try some fruit-based tea (without added sweetener) or go for a square of dark chocolate which has important antioxidants and is generally low in sugar.
You’re about to hit the gym
The general rule of thumb is to have your last meal about three to four hours before exercise, but you can have a lighter snack about one to two hours before. Steer clear of anything too high in fat or fiber – I would go for some greek yogurt – to give you some protein before the lift with some fresh berries to give you some fast energy. A bit of black coffee or tea with some caffeine can also be helpful before a big workout.
You’ve just got home from a big workout
To help your muscles recover go for a snack that has a good mix of lean protein and whole grains. Try some scrambled egg whites on a piece of sprouted grain bread or a grilled chicken breast over some bulgur wheat. Also, make sure you re-hydrate with a few large glasses of water!