Do you find that after you eat a snack you are still hungry or not satisfied? That could be a sign that your snack needs improvement. A perfect snack is a food item that satisfies your hunger, is nutritionally dense, and keeps you full until your next meal.
The perfect snack contains protein and/or carbohydrates, but the combination of both make it an excellent snack.
Ultimately, protein is used in the body to fuel and repair muscle mass. Protein is also essential to help you stay full or reach satiety, which is important when it comes to having a snack. Research has shown the improvement of satiety and appetite control when high-protein snacks are consumed.
Protein can be found in animal or plant products. Your most common protein sources are meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, legumes, and some dairy products.
Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of energy and are needed to ensure the body can function properly. There are two different types of carbohydrates: Simple and Complex.
Simple carbohydrates are found in candies, fruits, processed foods, and dairy products. Simple carbohydrates provide short bursts of energy because they are only made up of one or two sugars. Which means, your body will use those sugars faster.
Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grain food items (oatmeal, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta), beans, lentils, and some vegetables. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, meaning they provide a longer amount of energy to the body. Therefore, when it comes to creating the perfect snack, it is best to have a complex carbohydrate to ensure you are staying satisfied longer.
*Stay tuned for future posts about macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fats)*
My Go-To Snacks
Apple + Nut Butter
Peanut Butter and Almond Butter are my soulmates, they make my heart so full whenever I have them. So it’s no wonder why I always have some with me. With nut butter, I am getting a great source of protein. However, I always pair my nut butter with a crisp and cold Red Delicious Apple. Even though my apple is a simple carbohydrate, I am still combining a protein and a carb to ensure that I stay full until my next meal.
My favorite nut butter product is Justin’s Squeeze Packs. They come in a variety of different flavors, both with peanut butter or almond butter as the base. My favorite thing about Justin’s Squeeze Packs is their size. Each pack contains 1.15 oz of nut butter, which converts to about 2 Tbs, the recommended serving size of nut butter. Plus, being able to squeeze the nut butter onto my apple ensures I have nut butter with every bite.
Next to my love for nut butter comes my love for popcorn. I believe no week or movie is complete without popcorn. Popcorn is a whole-grain, aka a complex carb, which keeps me happy as can be until my next meal.
Now I am not talking about making a bag of microwave popcorn and calling it a day. I am talking about making some old-school air popped popcorn. Don’t think you have time to make popcorn, do not worry. I am all about having snacks that require little time to make. This past Christmas, I got a Lèkuè Popcorn Maker. Sounds fancy, but it is not and it has changed my life. With this popcorn maker, you can have fresh air-popped popcorn in less than 3 minutes. Simply add popcorn kernels, spray some canola oil, add a small amount of sea salt, put the lid on, cook about 2 minutes in the microwave, and BOOM popcorn is done. Quick and simple and you’re on the run again.
With always being on the run, there is not a day where you can’t find me without a granola bar. Granola bars consist of both carbohydrates and protein, with the amount varying in different granola bars. However, when choosing a granola bar, it is important to look for low-sugar options. Although high-sugar granola bars may taste better, the sugar content increases the simple carbohydrate amount.
My favorite granola bars are:
– Kind – Kind bars are great if you are looking for a granola bar with simple ingredients. All of the products are made with whole nuts, fruits, and whole grains. Making the products a great snack that will satisfy your hunger and keep you full until your next meal. When it comes to their bars, they offer a large variety of flavors. Their protein and sugar levels vary depending on the bars and the ingredients, but overall Kind is a brand that I trust to keep me happy and full.
– Nature Valley – There are many different flavors offered and all of the bars are made with whole grains. As well as, offer about an average of 3-4 grams of protein, enough to tie you over until your next meal. (My absolute favorite is the peanut butter one, of course.)
– Fiber One – Fiber One bars offer an extra bonus. Since most of their products contain 5 grams of fiber or 20% of the recommended amount, I know I am helping my digestive system. Not only does the added fiber help with digestion, it also helps keep me full. Depending on the product, there may be higher amounts of protein. Ultimately, the soft texture and bursts of flavor are my favorite components of Fiber One bars.
offer not only a good source of protein but they also provide healthy fats. Your healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Both mono and polyunsaturated fats help lower total cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats also help increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Polyunsaturated fats help lower total cholesterol and contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. So ultimately, you want a diet rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats, both of which are in almonds.
My favorite type of almond is dark chocolate oven roasted almonds. Not only is there more flavor but there are heart-healthy antioxidants found within dark chocolate. There is a difference between dark chocolate oven roasted and almonds covered in dark chocolate. Oven roasted almonds are covered in a dusting of dark chocolate and then roasted in the oven. Opposed to the covered almonds that add more sugar to the nutrition content. There are also other almond options that offer different flavors. So pick your poison and get some healthy fats in your diet.
With summertime and fall being a great time to be outside. I find that I am always packing beef jerky for an adventure. To me, a road trip or a hike is not complete without jerky. Jerky is filled with protein since it is essentially dehydrated meat. Especially, when being outside hiking or camping, it is important to have protein to help fuel your muscles. Jerky usually gets a bad name due to the amount of sodium found within the product. However, there are jerky products that contain lower amounts of sodium and still offer great flavor. When it comes to picking jerky, look for products that contain below 400 mg of sodium or 15% of recommended daily value, since it is a snack and not a meal.
Low-Sodium Brands I Choose:
– EPIC – EPIC makes bars, bites, and other products that all come from 100% grass-fed animals. They offer different flavors like Chicken Sesame BBQ, Beef Apple Bacon, and Salmon Sea Salt Pepper. I personally enjoyed the Beef Apple Bacon, but look forward to trying new flavors as fall weather comes and I spend more time outside.
– Krave Jerky – Krave Jerky offers many unique flavors. So whenever I am craving something different I always check them out. (The Black Cherry Barbeque is heavenly!) Most of their products contain around 10 grams of protein and average around 320 mg of sodium.
– Think Jerky – I love these packs of jerky because of the flavors offered and because Think Jerky is a Chicago-based company! (Gotta love local companies.) They offer both grass-fed beef jerky and free-range turkey jerky. They all offer at least 16 grams of protein, which will help keep you full and help your muscles while on a long hike.
Overall, snacking doesn’t have to be the same thing every day. It is important to mix it up so burnout does not occur. These are just some of my favorite go-to snacks but I do eat other things. I dare you to come up with your own snacks that contain protein and complex carbohydrates. The goal to a snack is to satisfy your hunger with a light food option that will help fuel you till your next meal.
Have your own favorite snack? Comment and share it with others who may be struggling on what snack to have. And as always, feel free to contact me if you have any personal questions or thoughts. I enjoy hearing from you!