We talk a lot about meal planning here on the blog, but snacks are also an important part of a healthy diet. Snacks are a huge part of keeping you from getting too hungry between meals, which we all know can lead to some not-so-healthy food choices. Adding snacks to your diet can also help you avoid the afternoon slump at work, fuel/recover properly around a workout, and better control your blood sugar.
What makes a good snack? Most of what are advertised as snack foods are more of what I would consider occasional treats: chips, “snack” cakes, frozen appetizers, cookies…you get the idea. These foods provide lots of calories and few nutrients. Not to mention they leave you feeling hungry and craving more sugar, fat, and/or salt.
The size of your snack will depend on you individual goals and calorie needs, as well as the amount of time until your next meal. For the average person, 200-300 calories is just about the perfect size for your snack, assuming you consume reasonably sized meals. A highly competitive athlete or someone with a very active job will obviously require larger snacks and will need to snack more often than a less active individual.
If not “traditional” snack foods, then what kinds of foods make a good snack? Try to aim for a combination of carbohydrates/fiber with protein/healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide energy and fiber/protein/healthy fats help keep you full longer.
Below is a handy chart I made that might help you put together some healthy snacks. You’ll find things that you can pack at home to bring wherever you go, as well as things that can easily be found in vending machines or convenience stores if you need to make a healthy choice on-the-go. For those who have been following some of the posts on protein, I’ve included the grams of protein for each item in the protein column to help you keep tabs on your protein intake.
- 6 Triscuits + 2 oz tuna
- 1 Flatout wrap + 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1/2 cup Cheerios + 6 oz Greek yogurt
- 10 pretzels + 1 oz beef jerky + 1 string cheese
- 1 apple + 1 oz cheese
- wheat English muffin + 2 Tbsp hummus
- 1/2 pita pocket + 1/4 cup beans + 1/4 avocado + salsa
- smoothie: 1 frozen banana + 1 cup berries + 1/2 cup milk or yogurt