It is important to eat a small snack every 3-4 hours in order to keep your metabolism burning and avoid overindulging later in the evening. Often, when people snack throughout the day, they choose convenience over nutrition. It can be hard to pass up a chocolate bar or bag of chips from the vending machine, but if you plan your snacks ahead of time, you can easily pass up sugary temptations and opt for more energizing choices. Planning snacks may take slightly more effort, but the payoff is huge: healthier snacks will give you more energy, better focus, increased health, and perhaps even a slimmer waistline. Look for snacks that are high in protein and fiber, but low in sugar and unhealthy additives to prevent energy crashes and keep you full for longer. Here are some easy, convenient snacks to incorporate into your workday diet:
- Nuts: Nuts contain protein, healthy fats, fiber, and a wide variety of essential nutrients! Unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios make an excellent choice for a satiating, nutrient-dense snack. Keep in mind that nuts are high in calories, so it is best to limit nuts to one serving size per day, or about one handful.
- Vegetables and hummus: The combination of fiber from vegetables and protein from hummus make this an excellent mid-afternoon snack combination. Fresh carrots, cucumber, celery, and broccoli are easy to prepare at the beginning of the week. You can also find snack-size portions of hummus in most supermarkets.
- Plain Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese: try adding your own flavoring such as cinnamon, honey or unsweetened cocoa powder. Low-fat granola, chia seeds, or fresh fruit are a great way to add more fiber and flavor.
- Apple or banana with nut butter: A perfect combination of fiber, healthy fats, and protein, this sweet and light snack is also convenient and portable. Look for a nut butter that does not contain additional sugars or oils.
- Granola bars: Make sure the sugar content is not too high, and opt for versions with 10 grams or more of protein. KIND bars are an excellent brand and are available at most supermarkets. The lower sugar KIND bars include satisfying flavors such as Madagascar Vanilla, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan. These are also gluten free for those living with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. Alternatively, you can make your own granola bars with oats, seeds, agave, nuts, unsweetened dried fruit and coconut.
In addition to incorporating nutritious snacks, make sure you stay hydrated. Limit soda and other sugary drinks and replace them with plenty of water. Insufficient hydration can make you feel sluggish and unfocused. Unsweetened herbal tea is also an excellent choice. Tea does not contain any extra calories and can provide a number of health benefits. Green tea is loaded with cancer-preventing antioxidants, may boost metabolism, and protects against numerous diseases.
Snacking smartly is an important part of a healthy diet. Choosing nutrient dense snacks over “empty calorie” snacks doesn’t have to be difficult. Many healthy snacks can be prepared easily ahead of time so that you can avoid a mid-afternoon indulgence from the cookie jar and feel more energized and healthy than ever.
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