To SNACK or not to SNACK, that is the question…..
Should snacks be a part of a healthy balanced diet??
Absolutely, the right type of snacks play a vital role in balancing blood sugar, regulating metabolism and providing the body with sustained energy throughout the day. A person that sleeps 8 hours per day spends 16 hours per day awake, if you eat 3 meals every 5 hours say at 8am, 1pm and 6pm that leaves you with about 15 hours of time in which your stomach is completely empty since it takes the body about 3 hours to digest a meal. The fourth hour or just before that is the window in which you should be having your snack, this will keep your from over eating during your next meal as well as regulate blood sugar and keep your metabolism in check. A modified schedule to include one snack in your day would be 8am, 12pm, 3:30pm (snack) and 6:30pm dinner, this leaves you with about a 14 ½ hour window of fasting. A sample schedule that includes two snacks in your day would be 8am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 8pm, this is a 12 hour window of fasting. Neither schedule is a one size fits all approach. If you currently are not snacking at all try adding one snack in your day. If weight loss is a goal, adding this one snack at a scheduled time in the day can have positive effects on weight loss.
What is a healthy snack??
Protein (At least 7 grams for women/14 grams for men) should be a part of every snack you consume. Protein will take longer to digest, whereas carbohydrates such as fruit will be absorbed quicker by the body and raise your blood sugar at a much faster rate. If you pair the protein and the carbs together as your snack this will slow the rate of absorption and keep you satisfied longer.
Sample Snack ideas
- Apple slices with 1.5 tbsp of peanut butter or almond butter (look for pre-portioned nut butter packets)
- Cheese stick and a piece of fruit
- Carrots and ¼ cup of hummus (Sam’s sells snack size hummus packs)
- Celery sticks with 1.5 tbsp nut butter
- 1 slice of whole wheat toast with nut butter & sliced bananas or strawberries
- ¼ cup of trail mix – make your own mix of nuts, seeds, raisins & dark chocolate chips.
- Greek yogurt topped with ¼ cup of granola
- Sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon & one ounce of almonds (put apple slices & almonds in a baggie , sprinkle with cinnamon & shake, apple will not turn brown – this is delicious)
- 1 small whole wheat tortilla with 1 oz. cheddar cheese – microwave for 45 seconds for a snack size quesadilla
- Steamed edamame – check your grocery store for individual snack packs that can be microwaved.
- 4 oz. cottage cheese with a piece of fruit
- Frozen grapes & 1 oz. sunflower seeds
- 10-12 whole grain crackers (3-4grams fiber), 1.5 tbsp nut butter
- 1 oz. fresh sliced mozzarella cheese & sliced tomatoes
- Sprouted whole grain bread (ezekial) with 1 oz. guacamole or sliced avocado
- Rice cake topped with 1.5 tbsp nut butter
- 1 oz. organic corn tortillas with fresh salsa
Nicki Hubers-Hall, MS, CNS, LDN