Most people think of snacking as a bad habit when trying to improve their nutrition. However, snacking can be a great way to get in some more nutrient dense foods, keep your energy levels up, fuel your workouts, and help prevent overeating at meals. See below for some snack advice!
- When to Snack – Before your workouts, when going for a long period of time between meals (more than 4-5 hours), when you feel hungry in between meals, if you tend to experience signs of low blood sugar (dizziness, fatigue, shaking), when trying to build muscle, if you tend to overeat at meals.
- When not to Snack – If you’re bored, late at night, for stress/emotional reasons
- What to Snack On – A good snack will include a source of protein and a source of carbohydrates. The protein will help fill you up and help with muscle building. The carbohydrates will give you a source of energy, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. The difference between a good and a bad snack depends on what you are choosing to eat. See below for some healthy snack ideas.
|1-2 Tbsp Peanut butter/almond butter||Apple/banana|
|Handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)||Handful of grapes|
|Cottage cheese||Sliced peaches|
|Tuna||Whole grain crackers|
|Hard boiled eggs||Whole grain pita triangles|
|Low fat milk/soy milk||High fibre/low sugar cereal|
|Scoop of protein powder||Frozen fruits (blended into smoothie)|
|Hummus/Tzatziki||Mixed raw vegetables/crackers|
|Cheese (ex. 2 Babybel cheese)||Apple slices|
- Snacking Before a Workout – A snack with mostly carbohydrates and a smaller amount of protein will give you a boost of energy for your workout and can help prevent you from feeling light-headed or nauseous during/after the workout. A pre-workout snack can be eaten 1-2 hours before the start of the workout. A snack that is too high in protein, fat or fibre may cause cramps or indigestion during your workout. An example of a good pre-workout snack would be 1 slice of toast with 1 Tbsp peanut butter and 1 banana. You may need to experiment with what type of pre-workout snack makes you feel best before your workout.
- Snacking Before Bed – Have you ever heard that having a warm glass of milk before bed can help with sleep? This may actually be true, because milk contains the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is used in the body to make melatonin, which is a hormone that promotes sleep. Other foods containing tryptophan include turkey, chicken, cheese, eggs, fish, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts. Having a small portion of a protein-rich food such as these may help you fall asleep easier. On the other hand, having a large snack before bed, or a snack that contains too much sugar or caffeine, will likely interfere with your sleep. Snacks to avoid before bed include chips, fried foods, ice cream, sweets, pop, and caffeinated coffee/tea.