If you’ve ever seen me at the gym between classes or working the front desk, chances are you’ve caught me snacking on something. Food makes my world go 'round and I'm definitely in the camp of "live to eat" versus "eat to live." The majority of my food comes in the form of three well-balanced meals, but snacks keep me going during long days and when I have short breaks in between classes, clients, and when I'm on the road. This is not to say that snacking is right for everyone; if you are looking to lose body fat, consistently snacking in between meals should not be a part of your plan. It’s not realistic, however, to assume that we’ll NEVER get hungry in between meals, in the evening, or when we’re in social situations.
If you’re going to have something, it’s best to go in with a plan and an idea of what types of foods are your healthiest options. Some of the foods we hear people reaching for most often in the late afternoon or evening are either salty or sweet: chips, crackers, ice cream, chocolate, (insert junk food of choice). Instead of these foods with very little nutrient value, let’s look at some easy snacks that are high in both fiber and protein that will hold us over until our next meal.
1. Hard boiled eggs: On the road? You can even buy these pre-packaged at gas stations and at Costco
2. String cheese: easy to grab and go, also available if you’re on the road and stop at a gas station
3. FRUITS & VEGGIES!: Organic baby carrots, celery, baby cucumbers, mini peppers, grapes, cherries, dried figs or dates, olives. Make a little mix of whatever veggies and bite size fruit you like for an on-the-go snack pack. I’m obsessed with making these in jars!
4. Beef jerky: look out for brand’s with a high amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup (usually the second or third ingredient). If you’re used to snapping into a Slim Jim, consider a better option!
5. Nuts and seeds, including almonds, walnuts, cashews, unshelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. Things to watch out for: anything salted or anything coated in some type of oil. I would highly recommend you check the ingredient list on any nuts or seeds to ensure that there aren’t any additional ingredients, even if the packaging says “raw.” We see many people who overdo it on nuts and seeds. A serving size is about one small palm full. A common habit for many is to grossly overestimate a serving size and/or continue to keep going back for more if they purchase a large container. I’d suggest either portioning nuts and seeds out or purchasing smaller, convenience packages that will prevent you from overeating.
6. Yogurt or kefir, preferably unflavored without artificial sweeteners. Any yogurts with “fruit on the bottom,” flavor in general, or tasty add-ins like chocolate chips, granola, etc. are likely sugar bombs. If you find plain yogurt to be too tart, try adding a small drizzle of honey or fresh fruit. In regards to granola, for the most part, this is NOT a health food if you are purchasing from the store. Watch the sugar content! For a healthier option on granola, check this out: https://www.lodownhealth.com/the-cost-of-obesity/2017/12/12/health-granola-recipe
7. Protein bars: this one is tricky, as most people lump granola bars, snack bars, basically any type of “bar” in with protein bars. Many bars in general are not far from candy bars disguised as health foods. A popular favorite has been the Kirkland Brand protein bars from Costco. Coach Kristin Hogan-Mathees did a huge bar review last year and found that the Kirkland protein bars were a great option in regards to ingredients AND cost per bar. Costco for the win.
8. Protein shakes: blend your favorite protein powder with water or almond milk and some ice. With all things supplementation, make sure you know what’s in your products. A Mi-5 favorite is SFH brand!
9. Stove-popped popcorn: top with a small amount of REAL butter, salt and pepper, cinnamon, or Bragg Nutritional Yeast (tastes like cheese!).
10. Last but not least, the best snack in the entire world: rice cakes and avocado. It’s crunchy, it’s savory, it’s filling. You can sub nut butter for avocado as well, just mind your serving size on nut butters; post on this coming soon.
Snacks we want to avoid include anything with tons of sodium or sugar and very little nutritional value. This list will hopefully give you some additional tools to add to your healthy eating arsenal. If you've never hit the "hangry" wall, then you know you're more apt to reach for an emotional food choice if you don't have a plan. If you have any other healthy snack favorites, let us know!
Looking for help with your nutrition going into the holidays? Unsure if what you’re eating is really all that good for you? Reach out to a coach! We’d love to help you complement the hard work you’re doing in the gym throughout the week with what you eat!
Coach Laurel Heggernes
Nutrition is integral to success, whether your goals are weight loss, general muscular toning, fat loss, performance, weight gain, or just maintaining a HEALTHY lifestyle. Mi5 nutrition coaching provides customized support for all people and all goals. Sign up today: