When you’re in a rush and constantly on-the-go, a healthy snack can keep your energy levels high and keep you from being hungry to ‘hangry’. But not all snack choices are equal, and choosing the right one is important to ensure you’re fueling yourself with the right nutrients.
When it comes to selecting a well-balanced snack, it’s best to opt for high-protein foods over foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates. That’s because protein will keep you fuller for longer until your next meal. It’s also ideal to look for snacks that are made with whole foods instead of overly processed options like chips, crackers or baked goods. Processed foods lack the nutrients our bodies need and crave, so while you may enjoy that chocolate donut in the moment, you’ll probably be hungry again a short time later.
Of course, there’s also the convenience and accessibility component to consider. The best snacks are those that can be stashed away in a bag and pulled out any time of day. Consider these healthy snack ideas to bring with you:
- Trail mix containing a blend of nuts and dried fruit
- Apple slices and a packet of nut butter, whether that be peanut butter or almond butter
- Roasted chickpeas
- Whole-grain crackers
- Cheese sticks
- Carrot sticks and hummus
- Tortilla chips with guacamole packet
- Greek yogurt
- Protein bars
Strategy Behind Healthy Snacking
- Stay prepared: Have nutritious snacks at the ready for when hunger strikes. This way you don’t have to scramble to find something and you’ll steer clear from unhealthy snack options.
- Prioritize protein and fiber: Protein and fiber are two nutrients that help with fullness and feeling satisfied. They also help with stabilizing blood sugar. A snack with protein and fiber will keep your hunger at bay until you make it to your next meal time.
- Stay mindful: Have you ever noticed we tend to eat more when we’re munching while distracted? It could be the TV, phone screens or a conversation with friends that keep us from focusing on the food in front of us. This can lead to missing hunger signals, or signs of fullness from our bodies.
- Aim to eat every 4 to 5 hours: Prevent hunger altogether and keep your energy levels topped off. You can avoid dips in energy by maintaining your blood sugar with a small snack between meals.
- Fill nutritional gaps: If you’re lacking nutrients from prior meals, pick healthy snacks that fill the gap. For example, you had scrambled eggs for breakfast (protein and healthy fat), so you snack on an apple (carbohydrates and fiber) for an afternoon snack.
Make Sure You’re Eating Enough Food
Snacks shouldn’t replace full meals throughout the day. Make sure you are eating enough food throughout the day to support your daily activity level and responsibilities. You could be lacking nutrients if you exhibit these symptoms:
- Constant hunger
- Unable to complete workouts
- Weight loss plateau
- Weak immune system
You can calculate how many calories you should aim to eat each day by using the chart in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Your calories needs can be determined by age, sex and physical activity level.
About the Author:
Ciara Lucas is a journalist, on-air talent, media professional, and fitness/wellness coach. Her multifaceted career brings a unique perspective and expertise to the Vionic Innovation Lab team.
Ciara’s professional career has encompassed contributing to local and national newsrooms including NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, NBC Sports for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, and NBC News coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. When she’s not on screen, she’s building connections strengthened through sweat as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, helping clients find their meaning of sustainable health and happiness.
Ciara has created a personal brand and platform titled “Fit For A Queen” where she aims to empower, motivate, and inspire women from all walks of life to nurture their health and live their best lives by treating their bodies well. She is also an active member of the nonprofit Girls on the Run where she serves as a run coach for elementary school girls.