Ready to Up Your Snack Game? This Will Get You There.
A good snack is one of life’s little pleasures. Nothing hits quite like that afternoon pick-me-up when your day is starting to drag on. But as awesome as a good snack is, a bad snack has a way of sending your day all out of control. You know what I mean— you think you’ll just have a handful of chips or one of those cookies in the breakroom, but when they don’t hit the spot, you spend the rest of your day hungry and craving all the wrong things.
Good snacking should boost your energy levels, balance your mood, and most importantly? Keep you full! It should be the bridge between meals that helps to keep you powering through your day. And creating a great snack doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does take some thought to make sure you're getting the right foods to keep your body fueled and feeling good.
So what does it take to create a killer snack? Here’s what you need to know.
Increase the fat content.
Most people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them to add fat to their snacks, but I’m not messing with you. When it comes to creating a filling snack — or meal — fat is key.
Why? Because of all the macros, fat takes the longest for your body to digest. This is key for several reasons. First, slow digestion means fat will help you feel full for longer periods of time after your meal. And second, fat helps to regulate your blood sugar and avoid those big spikes and drops that can leave you starving and feeling lethargic.
But not only can help to decrease your hunger, it can also increase your satisfaction. Because let's face it— just about everything tastes better with a little fat added in. And while improving the taste might seem trivial, increasing your enjoyment of the foods you eat can help you to feel more content and less deprived— helping to curb intense food cravings as the day goes on.
And the best part is that adding fat doesn’t need to be complicated. Mix some olive oil with a fruit-infused balsamic vinegar for a great salad dressing. Toss some root veggies in olive oil and herbs before popping them in the oven or air fryer for some easy fries. Slice up some avocado for just about any sandwich to up the flavor game. Or switch your fat-free greek yogurt to the low or full-fat variety. It doesn’t take much, but adding fat to your snacks can have a huge payoff.
Pack in the Protein.
After fat, protein is next on the list in the slow-digestion department. And like fat, that added processing time can help you feel more full and satisfied for longer periods of time.
You’ve probably seen this in action. Have you ever smashed a bagel or a big bowl of oatmeal in the morning, only to find yourself hungry an hour or two later? It doesn’t make sense— you just ate, but it doesn’t seem to stick. And that’s because you missed the protein part of the equation.
The really great thing about adding protein to your snacks is that it’s easy to come by and there’s something for everyone. If you opt to go the animal-based route, you’ve got your pick from chicken, to grass-fed beef, lunch meat, canned tuna, eggs, and so many more. Heck, even beef jerky makes an easy, portable option for a protein-packed snack. If you’re looking for plant-based options, tofu, lentils, chia seeds, nuts, and even whole grains like quinoa are easy ways to up your protein.
Not only is protein great for keeping you full, it’s also key for maintaining muscle— that’s why I recommended you add a protein source to every meal or snack.
Make the most of fiber and carbs.
Fiber is one of those things that doesn’t get nearly enough credit, which really is unfortunate because it’s a heavy hitter when it comes to improving your overall health.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that can’t be digested by the body, meaning it isn’t broken down and stored as glucose like other carbohydrates. Why does that matter? In short, because as fiber holds its mass while passing through your body, it helps you to feel full and regulates blood sugar, much like fat and protein.
And finding fiber isn’t tough. The best way to get more fiber (as well as increased doses of key micronutrients) is by eating more plants. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans— the list of high-fiber sources goes on and on. Plus, swapping out fiber sources is an awesome way to add variety to a basic meal equation.
And while we’re talking about fiber, let’s address other carbohydrate sources, too. Low-carb diets may be all the rage right now, but carbs are important when it comes to creating a filling and satisfying snack. Because if you’re skimping on the carbs, chances are that you’re not getting much bang for your buck when it comes to feeling full. Including a quality carbohydrate— like beans, fruit, or whole grains— will help to increase your energy, decrease your cravings for sugary carbohydrate sources, and feel more satisfied, overall.
Use the Rule of Two.
To get the most out of your snacks, you should always be following what I like to call the Rule of Two. What does that mean? Whether you’re raiding the fridge or pre-packing your snacks for the day, be sure to include at least two of the nutrients above— fat, protein, or fiber— in every serving. Because while each of these is great alone, they really become more effective when you layer them together. Here are some of my favorite, easy snack combos:
Apples and almond butter
Greek yogurt and blueberries
Whole-grain toast and peanut butter
Pita chips and guacamole
Beef jerky and string cheese
It might take a little thought, but creating more-filling snacks doesn’t need to be complicated (or boring). If you focus on eating more of the right things and balancing nutrients, you’ll be on your way to snacking success in no time.
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