Learning to Snack Strategically

Snacking is an important part of everyone's day and it can be a strategic component of an athlete's performance plan. Snacks should be thought of as mini-meals to avoid eating empty calorie foods such as chips, soda, or candy. To help provide balance in a diet, they should include at least two different food groups.

More: Raising the Bar: How to Choose Healthy Snacks

Many people have tried to avoid snacking to watch their weight but avoiding snacks just makes sticking to a healthy diet harder. Skipping out on snack time can result in more calories consumed throughout the day. How many times have you decided  not eat between lunch and dinner and ended up eating more at dinner than you planned or find yourself at the fridge door eating before you can put together a well balanced dinner?

More: Snack Yourself Thinner

Avoiding snacks can lead to cravings and cause you to make unhealthy choices out of extreme hunger. Additionally, giving up on your healthy-diet plan due to hunger can cause feelings of guilt or cause you to give up on your diet.  

It is also important to consider snacks as pre-workout fuel. Working out without the proper fuel could cause you to burn less calories during a workout or leave you feeling uncomfortable, unsatisfied or ill.  Planning and portioning snacks for the day can help you feel satisfied and motivated to work out after a long day.

More: To Eat or Not to Eat Pre-Workout?

By planning and allowing snacks it can help prevent cravings for sugary foods that occur when we let ourselves get too hungry. This planning is key to a healthy day, a successful workout and a healthy lifestyle.

Some balanced snack ideas include:

  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • ? oz almonds and an apple
  • Nature Valley Fruit and Nut Bar
  • ? tablespoon peanut butter & honey sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • 1 cup grapes and 1 string cheese
  • 1 cup edemame and baby carrots
  • Cottage cheese and pretzels
  • Light mocha and a banana

Resource: Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

More: Sports Snacks: Food Options for Hungry Athletes  

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