Is there a science behind our snacking habits?
Often snacking is seen as a naughty unpredictable habit that we wish to curb. It's usually a grab and go between meals, that consists of indulgent foods we crave. We snack for a variety of reasons, including hunger between meal time, cravings for certain foods or even just out of comfort. Snacking can become a problem, when vital nutrients are being swapped out for high calorie, sugar filled foods. This can often lead to missed mealtimes (so even more missed nutrients), unwanted weight gain and then our bodies build a preference for these food types… making the habit even harder to curb. Sounds like a vicious cycle doesn't it? One I am sure we are all guilty of at times. Whether your excuses are limited time, lack of motivation or something else… Hopefully we can give you a few tips on how to snack sensibly to move you a step closer to smashing your fitness goals.
How does high protein snacking help with muscle gain?
Enough about the shortcomings of snacking. More about how high protein snacking can actually aid muscle gain. Protein stabilises your blood sugar levels and slows digestion. Protein signals the release of those appetite suppressing hormones that make you feel satisfied for longer. Believe it or not, snacking is a mental battle with ourselves and our cravings. We can use ‘tactical snacking’ by keeping our hunger levels to a minimum and reducing the risk of ravenously grabbing the first calorie dense snack you see. To add to this, keeping your body fuelled aids brain power… to give you that extra boost of motivation to get yourself to the gym! The process of muscle protein synthesis is a combination of muscle training and protein intake. It is proven that this process is most effective when the protein intake is evenly distributed throughout the day. So snacking really can be your muscle building bestie.
What to snack on?
All sounds great doesn’t it? But I can hear you screaming ‘BUT HOW?!’. In this section I'll give you some tips and tricks to a positive snacking experience… and even share some of my favourite protein crammed snacks!
Tips to start a positive snacking experience:
- Mind over matter. Next time you feel an urge to reach for a snack, have a think; are you actually hungry or are you doing it for another reason? Could it be eating for comfort or eating out of habit? Taking a few extra seconds to evaluate your eating habits can make a world of difference for your decision making!
- Snack o’clock. Timing matters… and developing a strong routine with snacking and mealtimes can make things a lot easier to stick to. Evaluate your lifestyle, and decide what time snacking suits you. We all know the benefits of meal prepping… now it's time for snack prepping.
- The 150-250 rule. It can often be tempting to over eat during snack time and that is a quick way to ruin meals and therefore lose vital protein filled opportunities. Try to stick to no more than 250 calories per snack.
Now you know the whens are whys about snacking… let's look at what to snack on.
High protein snack ideas:
- Roll up Roll up… Roll ups. Essentially a sandwich without the bread. Grabbing a slice of turkey, spread on a thin layer of cream cheese and adding your favourite salad sticks inside (I like cucumber the best). If you’re anything like me, I love a sandwich. I find these roll up’s satisfy that craving without the added sugar that bread brings.
- For the love of dunking… hummus! Swap out chips and dips for hummus and veggies. Hummus is protein rich and definitely filling. It's a good excuse to cram in some fibre rich veg. I love a combination of celery and carrot sticks!
- Out with the eggs and in with the cottage cheese! Often it feels like an egg overload when trying to cram in that protein. Cottage cheese is a really great alternative to egg as it's actually lower in calories and higher in protein. Top it off with some berries and you have a top tier snack.
Get started in incorporating snacking into your meal plans… you and your muscles will feel the benefits!