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The Right Track Starts With the Right Snack!

To say that it’s hard to consistently eat healthy would be a major understatement. The fact is, temptation is everywhere!  If you’re not prepared and equipped with the right arsenal when hunger calls between meals, you’ll likely loose the battle of the binge and set your hard-earned progress several steps back after all that work you’ve been putting in at the gym.  But meal prepping is tedious and healthy snacks are expensive, right? Not if you’re smart about it! Here I’ll address a few fundamentals to planning the right snacks throughout the week that have helped both my clients and myself tremendously!  

But why are snacks between meals such a big deal in the first place? Although more people are becoming aware that eating only 3 meals a day just isn’t effective to stimulate or maintain a faster metabolism, the average person usually underestimates the significance of what they eat between their largest meals-and how those snacks or “ feedings” can directly affect your appetite, mood, and your meal decisions later on. For instance, it’s a proven fact that if you skip breakfast you’re far more likely to  reach for a carb-loaded meal for lunch. Nutrient-dense sweet potatoes? Probably not. More likely a sub sandwich on a white roll, a sugary donut, or pizza. Why is that exactly? When you wake up in the morning you’re body is hungry because it’s been fasting during sleep all night, and your glucose-the body’s energy source-is at it's minimum. What’s the fastest way to get glucose back into your system? Refined sugar and simple carbohydrates or “empty” carbs, like pastries made from white flour, breads, etc. So you crave these foods, then eat them, and they wreak havoc on your body by causesing a fast spike in blood sugar, followed by an inevitable crash. This makes the body feel sleepy and sluggish, often leading to craving more sugar soon after, and the cycle continues.  That’s why it’s strongly urged to never skip breakfast. Unfortunately the same rule applies to cravings throughout the day. All this can be avoided by simply making sure you’re properly fueling between meals to sustain you throughout the day and keep you on track towards your goals!

So where to begin? It all starts at the grocery store. Let’s cover the basics! Here are my top 4 fundamentals of a smart snack haul:

 

1.       Plan a weekly food budget , and stick to it!

Of course having a budget helps organize your finances, but it can also help organize your fridge! Sticking to a set grocery budget can help ensure that you’re eating and using up roughly the same amount of groceries weekly, thereby avoiding waste and clutter in your kitchen.

 

      2. Make a list! 

Writing out a list before you shop is a great way to adhere to your budget, avoid impulse buys and stay conscious about your food choices. When making your list, keep in mind the types of snacks that are easy to take on the go. Some of my favorites are unsalted/unsweetened nuts, baby carrots, baby zucchini, grapes, and yogurt. It’s also wise to plan for at least two snack options per day, to be eaten between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, and after dinner. 

 

3.       If you don’t like it, Leave it!

All too often we make the mistake of trying to convert ourselves to a restrictive diet full of foods we hate, only to fall off the bandwagon after a week and binge on our favorite ice cream to make up for lost times. If you don’t like salads, don’t eat them! Healthy doesn’t have to hurt. Making the right snack choices is totally customizable to your preferences and fitness goals. Maybe you’re a lifter who needs frequent protein feedings every 2-3 hours to maintain gains but you hate whey protein shakes? All-natural jerky or quick and easy homemade peanut butter protein balls are a great alternative.  Perhaps you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or you have nut allergies and you’re bored with the usual tofu scrambles and dairy-free yogurts? Dry roasted edamame and/or dehydrated fruit chips are a perfect fiber source that will keep you satiated without overdoing your daily sodium or sugar intake in one sitting. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something conducive to your goals, that you’re going to look forward to munching on!

 

4.       Containers are a MUST! 

Having as consistent supply of snack during the day depends heavily on how easily you can store them and take them with you. That’s where getting the right containers comes in! The best kind, in my opinion, are BPA-free, dishwasher& microwave safe storage containers. You can find them in various sizes and value packs and (provided you take them back home from work ,LOL!) will be a great investment for a practical and organized meal prep schedule. One of the biggest excuses I used to catch myself using to justify not meal prepping for the day was “ I don’t have anything to put it in!” Hear that? That’s the sound of another excuse out the window!

                As you can see, it’s critical for consistency to supply yourself with healthy, budget-friendly snacks-and it’s not complicated! The initial trip to the grocery store and first week of meal prep may take some thought and you’ll need to get a feel for what system works for your schedule. But once it’s part of your routine, I guarantee you’ll notice a major improvement in your ability t maintain healthy choices for days, weeks, and months down the road. Still fresh out of ideas?  I’ve linked below a few of my favorite go-to snacks, all of which are packed with protein or fiber and free of gluten and refined sugar. Enjoy trying them out for yourself and feel free to let me know (if) and how you liked them!

https://www.livestrong.com/ recipes/almond-butter-stuffed- dates/

https://www.joyfulhealthyeats. com/no-bake-chocolate-peanut- butter-energy-balls/

https://www.superhealthykids. com/cheesy-cauliflower- dippers/

https://www.allrecipes.com/ recipe/26921/real-hummus/

https://cookeatpaleo.com/how- to-make-kale-chips/

http:// loriesmississippikitchen.com/ 2017/04/simple-rice-flour- pancakes-gluten-and-refined- sugar-free.html

Happy Snacking! 

By Cheyenne Ibrahim, CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist


 




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