Thursday, December 10, 2015

Optimal Snacks for Optimal Health

Do you find yourself continually losing attention and dozing off between the hours of 3pm and 4pm? Not sure you can survive the 11am hour before heading to lunch? You will be happy to hear that snacking two hours after your lunch (or an hour before) can prevent this from happening. A snack that contains fiber, some protein, healthy carbs and healthy fat slows digestion and provides steady energy to calm your cravings. The same principle also applies in the morning, depending on the time frame between breakfast and lunch, if you find yourself ravenous. Otherwise, you may be more likely to choose unhealthy foods and risk overeating at lunch time.

While we focus on healthy eating to prepare our breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is equally important to consider the quality and timing of our snacks as well. Consumed throughout the day, healthy snacks will stabilize your blood sugar, serve as a source of protein for your muscles, and provide carbohydrates to keep you energized and focused on the task at hand. Carbohydrates are your brain's primary source of fuel. The body breaks carbohydrates into glucose, which it uses toward brain activity.

Popcorn and a Low Fat Cheese Stick
Be aware of the microwavable popcorn you find in the chips and dips aisle at the grocery store. Many are loaded with saturated fat and are high in calories. Without these additives, popcorn is a very nutritious source of fiber and many nutrients. Check out my previous blog for a simple and easy way to make a healthy version--using just seeds and a brown paper lunch bag!

Carrots and Hummus
A perfect combination of crunchy and creamy. The carrots provide a solid source of healthy carbs and the hummus is derived from chickpeas, a healthy source of protein.

Peanuts and Raisins favorite! I have this daily. It is a great sweety-salt combination and the fats from the peanuts are very satiating. While dried fruit and nuts tend to be high in calories, I prepare this snack in a plastic baggie so I have a single serving of each.

I like to pair an apple with a protein or fat source. Any of the following are great examples.
-Cottage Cheese
-Protein Shake (Quest Nutrition Salted Caramel is my current fave!)
-Peanut butter
-Greek Yogurt

Quest Nutrition Bar
Quest bars are a great source of whey isolate protein which has been shown to increase muscle mass, aid in the loss of body fat, enhance immune function and much more. They're gluten free and contain 17g of fiber too so they'll keep you full! Almost every ounce of carbohydrate in the bars comes from fiber, which will keep your insulin levels low and your stomach satisfied. Fiber has been shown to do many things such as controlling hunger, improving digestive health and preventing certain diseases. Click here to order your Quest bar (shipping is free on orders over $25).

Oatmeal with Peanut Butter
I have been addicted to this since a friend told me about it in college! Cannot tell you how many others have become addicted as well. Try it, you will love it! Keeps you full for hours.

Sometimes you may not be hungry at all, just restless and/or dehydrated. There are several benefits to drinking tea, including increased alertness without the jitters induced by the caffeine in a coffee. Green tea also improves your body's ability to burn fat!

Yogurt and Peanut Butter
This one may sound strange at first, but again, like the peanuts and raisins it's an amazing treat to satisfy your salty-sweet cravings. Add a piece of fruit for a complete snack!

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