“Are snacks good or bad?” I hear something like this a lot from clients. The answer is it’s not the snack itself that is good or bad. It’s whether or not it helps you meet your nutrition needs and health goals.
Let’s look at the potential benefits of a snack. First, a properly timed and balanced snack can help boost metabolism. The boost you’ll get is somewhat marginal, so this needs to be weighed against potential drawbacks, which we’ll discuss below. Second, if you have fruits and/or vegetables as your snack, you’ll increase the likelihood of meeting the daily recommendation, which has health benefits. If you go long stretches between meals, a balanced snack can help avoid reaching an over-hungry state that can lead to poor food choices and over-eating. Finally, if you are physically active, a pre- and/or post-workout snack will help you reap the most benefits from your workout. Clearly, healthy snacks can fit well into a healthy eating plan.
However, snacks can also be problematic. Many snacks on the market are highly processed and/or not balanced in nutrients. In addition, snacking can be a gateway, so to speak, to grazing or making poor food choices. For some, the habit of eating between meals can easily slip in to a pattern of eating continuously throughout the day. Some of us would rather wait until the next meal than be faced with choosing a healthy snack rather than a highly rewarding treat. Everyone is different, and the decision to snack should be based an individual’s needs, goals and lifestyle.
With all of that being said, if snacking lines up with your goals, make your choices healthy! Below are some options that I love. I hope you do, too.
Veggies and Hummus
Carrot sticks or baby carrots
Sliced bell peppers
Homemade or store-bought hummus
Carrots and peppers provide vitamins, especially vitamin C and folate
Veggies also provide fluid and fiber
Hummus provides plant based protein and prebiotics
Fresh and/or frozen fruits and veggies
Protein powder options: hemp, soy, whey
Add-in's are endless, but I like: ground flax meal, turmeric, collagen, ginger
This is fresher and healthier option than the store bought version, plus you get complete freedom to make your own flavors!
Why to try:
Smoothies feel decadent while offering a nutrient rich, refreshing treat!
Trail mixes aren't just for hiking and camping! This is another highly customizable option.
Here are some ideas to include in your trail mix, pick your favorites and mix away!
Coconut flakes or chips
Easy to store and transport
Combines plant protein from nuts and seeds with healthy carbs for energy
I love to combine dates, nut or seed butter, chia seeds, sea salt, and coconut oil.
Optional add-in’s: coconut flakes, oats, cocoa powder
Try one of my recipes here
Make a large batch and store in the fridge for a quick fix!
Apple slices with nut or seed butter
They taste delicious together!
This kid-friendly combination provides a nice balance of sweet flavor with crisp and creamy textures. This snack is easy to pack in a lunch and also makes a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
The granola/protein bar market is expansive. I recommend whole foods first. However, there is a time and place for convenient, portable foods. I’ve tried lots of different brands. When it comes to bars, I look for something that is low in sugar, made from whole foods and contains adequate protein. Real Food Bars check all these boxes, PLUS they help out the planet by using upcycled produce! I support what they’re doing in the food product space, and you can, too by using this link to try their amazing Chocolate Sea Salt bar. It's my fave!
Snacking can be part of a healthy and nourishing diet! The following guidelines may be helpful as you consider your own approach to snacking.
Contain a source of protein
Include a fruit or vegetable
Be eaten at least 2 hours before going to bed