So, do you ever wonder why you are tired for simply no good reason at all?! Does your child seem lethargic in the middle of the day? Do you have a snack and then just want to go to sleep? Do you think it’s no big deal to have a cookie or a doughnut in the middle of the day? Would you like to live and function at an optimum level? Then, let’s talk about the science behind snacking.
This will make you think twice the next time you grab a plain apple! There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Today, for our snack purposes, we are going to focus on carbohydrates and protein.
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for your body. This is the macronutrient that we most easily break down for immediate energy. It’s what keeps our bodies moving and our brains thinking. There are complex carbohydrates which digest a little slower such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal and whole grain bread. There are two different kinds of simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates break down very fast for immediate energy. The first one is refined simple carbohydrates such as candy, cakes and doughnuts. The second is natural simple carbohydrates such as fruit.
Next, we need to understand how protein works in our body. Protein is critical to the human body as 45% of the human body is protein! Studies have found protein to be the most satiating macronutrient. The most important function of protein is to build and repair muscle. Some great protein sources are eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, and beans.
The magic happens when you combine a protein and a carbohydrate for the ultimate snack. Aren’t you eager to have a magical day? A snack that is only a carbohydrate will cause your glucose levels to spike up and then crash. This will leave you hungry and tired. This is why it is important to add a protein to the carbohydrate. It slows the digestion of the carbohydrate and energy is released slower. This will give you and your children energy for longer periods of time and keep you full longer.
Some great protein and carbohydrate snack combinations are apples with almond butter, bananas and string cheese, fruit and nuts, peaches and cottage cheese or grapes and walnuts Basically, any fruit with a healthy protein is a perfect choice for a snack. It will give you sustainable energy all day long. Also, if you are dieting, this is especially important! If you always have energy and you are never hungry, you will stick to your plan!
Here’s the good news to a magical, upbeat, high energy day. It is easier to grab for a healthy snack than locate unhealthy snacks. What do I mean by that? Keep fruit and nuts on hand in your office and home. Keep apples and a bag of almonds in your car, office and home. Keep cottage cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt in the refrigerator at the work. Combine that with a banana and you’ll be feeling great.
Imagine how you feel after eating a cookie or a candy bar. Do you really want to do that to your children? Just imagine how productive they can be in school and in life with the proper food. Don’t allow them to hinder themselves with the wrong choices of food. Coach them in the early years when they are young and impressionable how the body requires the right kind of fuel to keep on chuggin’. And of course, always teach by example first! So, make snacking and planning for snacking a fun activity. Make trail mix or cut up fruit with your children.
Just take a moment and read the short list of healthy snack ideas below. In fact, we would love to hear from you. Email us your family’s favorite snack ideas.
- Fruit with 10-12 almonds or walnuts.
- Yogurt with honey or nuts
- Apple slices with organic cashew butter
- Celery stalks with tuna salad
- Yogurt with granola and fruit
- Homemade protein bar
- Two slices of chicken or turkey
- Vegetables with hummus
- Hard boiled eggs and fruit
- Low sodium cottage cheese with raisins and nuts
- Low sodium cottage cheese with blueberries or strawberries
- Thinly sliced apples drizzled with honey and sprinkled with walnuts
- Small bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts
- Fried egg on one piece of toast
- Homemade trail mix
- Baked sweet potato sprinkled with maple syrup or agave nectar and nuts
- Small bowl of tuna mixed with any type of bean, extra virgin olive oil and a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar.
- One piece of whole grain bread with organic almond butter and honey
- Fruit salad topped with yogurt and generous amount of honey
- Cucumber slices with tuna salad
- Cannellini bean bruschetta on whole wheat crackers
- Small bowl of green salad with a piece of whole grain bread
- One piece of dark chocolate and a few nuts
- Bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal with nonfat milk or coconut milk
- Fruit smoothie with flax seed
- Tropical fruit salad (extremely high in antioxidants) with chia seeds