Healthy Snacking

It’s inevitable, no matter how determined you are to stick to a meal plan, at some point you are going to crave a snack.

There are any number of reasons why this might happen, perhaps a snack maker has hooked you with their clever advertising or perhaps you’re simply away from the kitchen and have forgotten your lunch box, the bottom line is, at some point you will snack. The good news is, snacking isn’t all that bad, providing you make sensible choices. Processed foods like chocolate bars, cookies or crisps are high in fat and sugar and won’t do much to help you reach your fitness goals. Here are some healthier alternatives to help you control those hunger cravings in-between meals:

Popcorn

As long as you avoid the varieties drenched in butter, salt and sugar, you’ve got yourself a very healthy snack. The reason being that popcorn has one of the highest level of polyphenols of any plant food, including fruit, and in case you’re wondering what on earth a polyphenol is; polyphenols are a type of micronutrient with antioxidant properties which play an important role in preventing and reducing the progression of diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. Popcorn is also high in fiber.

Nuts

Generally speaking, nuts are packed with protein, fiber and essential fats, which can lower your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, while clearing your arteries and preventing the build up of arterial plaque. The high protein content will also help you feel fuller for longer. Pick Hazelnuts, Almonds and Chestnuts over Brazil nuts, Macadamias and Cashews as the saturated fat content is lower. Walnuts, Pecans and Pistachios sit somewhere in the middle.

Sunflower Seeds

Despite being relatively small in size, sunflower seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals and essential oils. Vitamin E and folate promote cardiovascular health; Sunflower seeds are high in both of these nutrients. Sunflower seeds are also a great source of magnesium, which as well as being essential for maintaining a healthy body also promotes a healthy mood.

Sunflower seeds contain a lot of the same healthy nutrients as nuts. Choose low salt or salt free sunflower seeds; the salt on the shells can make this healthy snack much less healthy after all.

Smoothies

Fruit smoothies are a great healthy snack and can even be used to replace healthy lunches if you put in enough ingredients. Smoothies can contain up to 600 calories, as many as some healthy meals, and can keep you feeling full for hours.

You can make smoothies yourself in your blender at home, with ingredients like fruit, yogurt and peanut butter. Many juice bars and cafes also offer smoothies on the menu. For extra protein, ask for an added shot of whey powder. Just be advised that smoothies are often high in fructose (fruit sugar), and that sugar can lead to weight gain if it’s not burned off.

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is a great high energy snack that’s packed with protein. A one ounce portion of beef jerky contains roughly 116 calories, 7.3 grams of fat and about 9 – 10 grams of protein, although this will vary depending on brand and variety. Make sure you read the label when buying your jerky as many brands of jerky are high in fat and sodium.

Low or Non Fat Yogurt

An eight ounce cup of yogurt contains about 3 grams of fat and 150 calories. Yogurt is also high in protein and a good source of dietary calcium. Some studies show that consuming three eight ounce servings of low fat yogurt each day can help you lose weight (of course, this is in addition to maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime).

*The views and/or opinions expressed in the blogs are not necessarily those of Training Nation, but of the author

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