My snacks usually contain all three macronutrients. I try to include a complex carbohydrate, a fat, and a protein. The carbohydrate provides energy, the fat helps me feel full and maintains essential body function, and the protein regulates distribution of the carbohydrate and aids in muscle repair. Balanced meals and snacks should contain all three and will sustain you until your next meal.
If you’re lost on what constitutes a “balanced” snack, here are some great examples. Each of these snacks provides essential macro- and micronutrients and keeps your hunger pains at bay for a few hours.
· ½-1 cup low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese with:
o 1 chopped apple and ¼ cup walnuts
o 3 fresh strawberries, sliced and ¼ cup walnuts or pecans
o 2 tbsp. salsa. Use as dip with 1 serving whole grain chips or whole wheat pita
o On top of a toasted whole wheat English muffin, topped with a slice of tomato and cracked pepper
o ¼ cup fresh blueberries and ¼ cup sliced almonds
· One stick of string cheese, an apple, and whole grain crackers
· 1 whole wheat pita cut into triangles, 1 c. fresh veggies, and 2 tbsp. hummus
· 1-2 tbsp. peanut butter and sliced banana on sprouted wheat or a nut and grain bread
· An apple, 1 oz. cubed cheddar cheese, and whole grain crackers
· 1 cup cooked oatmeal with nuts, fresh berries, peanut butter, and/or bananas,
· Plain fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with fresh fruit, nuts and Stevia or Agave nectar sweetners
· Sliced yams tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper, baked, and topped with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt
· Baked potato with fresh steamed broccoli, a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt
· ¼ cup granola mixed with yogurt (Greek or regular) and fresh fruit
· A handful of almonds, grapes, and whole grain crackers
· Sliced vegetables and hummus (or a dip made with seasoned plain Greek yogurt) wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
Oh my! This is just the beginning! Create your own favorites by combining your favorite fruit or vegetable with whole grains and a small amount of healthy fat.
Each of these snacks contains complex carbohydrates and are high in fiber. Each snack contains protein to help aid in muscle repair and regulate the distribution of the carbohydrates. The fat in each snack will help you stay full, aid in body functions, and ensures absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. The nutrients contained in these whole-food snacks go to work immediately to help you remain full of energy, properly nourished, and feeling good. When you snack on foods like these, there’s no need to feel guilty! It’s the food your body WANTS!
So, when you start to feel that gnawing sensation about 2 hours after breakfast, lunch, or dinner, go for something on this list. Take note of how you feel immediately after eating these whole foods, and then an hour later. Do you feel satisfied, or are you still craving something sugary or fatty? After an hour, have you crashed or are you still ready to go? The answer is probably “no”. None of these foods cause a sugar rush or the inevitable crash. These foods distribute slowly, like a time-release vitamin, thus regulating your energy level and blood sugar. You won’t feel hungry and lethargic half an hour later.
I am lucky enough to work with some amazing nursing mothers. Their caloric needs are off-the-charts high. Whatever non-nursing people need to consume, these ladies need to add about 500 calories! Continuously eating snacks to maintain milk supply and energy levels is essential to both mom’s and baby’s health. Snack away ladies!
If you’ve got a favorite snack and you’d like to share, please post it in the “Comments” section! Share the wealth and encourage health!