Last week, we started a brand new 6-week Fuel Your Body Nutrition Challenge over here. If you missed it, you can read about it here. And if you didn’t start with us last week, no worries. It’s not too late to jump into week two, where we talk all about healthy snacks.
To get the most out of this nutrition challenge, make sure to join our private Facebook group where you can share your experience and get in touch with fellow members of the 12 Minute Athlete Community.
Being a part of the community will not only help you to stay accountable with your own goals, but also see how others are doing, find support, share your successes and struggles and of course, get some great, new to you meal ideas.
Every week, we’ll be focusing on one thing that helps us to improve our diet and keeps us on a healthy eating track. The focus of the Week 1 was to eat a protein-packed breakfast. Next Monday, it’s time to bring on Challenge #2: Eat healthy snacks!
Nutrition Challenge Week 2: Meal Prep: Healthy Snacks!
Snacks are good, aren’t they? Nuts, fruits, veggie sticks, and yummy protein bars are great snacks that you can easily bring with you.
Unfortunately, so many store bought snack items are loaded with unhealthy ingredients and are so high in sugar and fats that all that you may end up getting from them are swinging blood sugar levels and cravings for more (we’ve all been there!).
But don’t worry, not all snacking is bad, especially if you want to eat more often throughout the day like I do. A little bit of work in the kitchen goes a long way if you like to snack but also want to remain lean and healthy. And it’s not as hard as you think.
When You May Need a Snack
You don’t necessarily have to snack to have a healthy, balanced diet. Although I’ve found that eating every three hours works best for me, if having three solid meals and no snacks works better for you, you should go ahead and stick to that.
Yet even if you’re not a big snacker, snacks (or really, mini-meals) may come in handy every once in a while to hold you over till your next big meal. They may also save you from eating too much when you are finally sitting down to your lunch or dinner, because you’ve already taken the edge off from your hunger.
Here are a few occasions when you may need a little snack:
Pre-workout. Working out on a super full stomach isn’t a good idea, but exercising completely fasted doesn’t work for most people either (I sure can’t do it). A pre-workout snack may be the difference between crushing your workout and feeling like total crap.
Post-workout. Sometimes your workout is so intense that you don’t feel like eating right afterwards. It happens, because working out can suppress your appetite. It’s important however to eat at least something after your workout. If you’re not able to down a full meal, have a high quality snack like a protein shake right afterwards and eat a larger meal later.
Between meals. There are no doubt times when breaks between meals get too long and you need a snack to keep you focused and your metabolism fired up.
This is why it’s so important to have healthy snacks with you to help keep your blood sugar levels in check during the day and to help you avoid from eating everything in sight once you finally sit down to dinner. Having an easy, healthy option also helps you avoid caving in and eating a candy bar when there’s nothing else to eat.
With your afternoon pick-me-up coffee. Sometimes you just need a little something in the afternoon. You may not need a full meal, you are simply craving something small with your coffee… maybe these sweet and chocolate-y bars? Count me in! The great thing is that you can have your afternoon treat without doing any harm to your diet.
To still have your treats. Keeping a healthy diet doesn’t have to mean missing out on treats. In fact, constantly saying “no” and depriving yourself of all your favorite treats often leads to binging on those same foods when your willpower is at its lowest. may turn out to be very unhealthy decision, because the more you deprive, the more you want them. Simple homemade snacks are perfect for taming the sweet tooth if you have it!
When you are traveling. Having a decent food when on the road can be hard. While relying purely on snacks is not a good idea, they may save your day if there are no good food options.
Prepare Your Own Snacks
I am a firm believer in meal prep. Prepping your food for three days or even for a full week ahead is key to success if you want to keep a good diet and stay on a healthy eating track.
The same is true about snacks. You can make them in advance and enjoy one or two every day. Most of them, like protein bars, truffles, and muffins keep fresh in the fridge for several days. You can make a bigger batch of protein bread and muffins and even freeze them, which saves you a ton of time.
Why do I prepare my own healthy snacks? There are several reasons. Many store bought snacks are super high on calories, they are overloaded with sugar and their nutritional value is pretty low. When I make my own snacks, I know what I put into them.
That’s not to say that I never have store bought snacks or that I don’t enjoy a fresh pastry at a coffee shop. However, I do it only once in a while and the rest of the time, prefer to have my own homemade snacks if I need them.
If You Don’t Like to Bake
I like baking and trying out new snack recipes, but not everybody enjoys it or has time for it. You don’t have to bake if that’s not your thing! There are other healthy snacks that come together faster, and though you’ll still need to do a little bit of preparation work, you won’t have to turn on the oven or experiment with recipes.
Here are some baking-free snack options:
- Fruit, whole or sliced up and packed into ziplock bags
- Carrots, celery, cucumber or other veggies, chopped up and packed into ziplock bags
- Half of an avocado
- Handful of nuts
- Mixed dried fruit
- String cheese
- Hard boiled eggs
- Beef or chicken jerky
- Green juice
- Homemade smoothie
All of those things are also easy to bring with you since they won’t spoil. Eggs and cheese may spoil if they stay out for a long time, but all other snacks in this list are pretty safe to tuck into your bag whenever you head out, without having to worry about them going bad.
Join Us for the Nutrition Challenge Week 2!
Get ready for making some delicious and satisfying snacks for the next week! Join 12 Minute Athlete Facebook Group, chime in with your pictures of your tasty snacks and share your thoughts, comments and struggles and successes.
We are super excited about seeing those pictures and helping you progress towards your goals 🙂
We would absolutely love if you shared your recipes too, so also others can test them out as well.
Now, let’s do this!
Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.
Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.