When you make changes in your eating habits, one of the struggles you may face is that the little, unconscious calories you consume throughout the day add up.
Whether it’s the candy jar at the office or soft drinks while you’re running around doing errands, these calories can hinder your progress towards achieving the results you are looking for. Many quick and easy snacks you may find throughout the day are typically high in sugar and calories, and also often lack protein, fibre and other important nutrients.
Consuming adequate protein throughout the day is essential if you’re active. Protein you consume is broken down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle. During the day, and especially during exercise, your muscle fibres are damaged, requiring amino acids to help repair and rebuild them. However, unlike carbohydrates and fat, you don’t actually store any of these amino acids in our body, making it essential to consume protein throughout the day to constantly supply your body with the amino acids it needs to build muscle. In addition, compared to high-carbohydrate snacks, high-protein snacks can help you feel full for longer, reducing the amount of calories you feel the need to consume.
Fibre is critical for proper digestion as well as helping to maintain satiety. It also helps to reduce the spike in blood sugar you get when you consume carbohydrates, but as with protein, most on-the-go snacks have little to no fibre. This can result in a sugar spike, then a crash, leaving you searching for another snack.
Lastly, getting adequate vitamins and minerals every day is crucial for the proper function of many processes that are constantly occurring in your body. Again, fast foods and sugary snacks typically do not provide you with sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Given what we know about the lack of nutrients seen in many typical snacks, it’s important to plan ahead and take healthy snacks with you during the day.
Nuts and fruit (like apples and bananas) are good on-the-go options. To help increase your protein intake during the day, protein bars are also a good option. Aim for a protein bar with 10 to 20 grams of protein (the higher the better) as well as fibre with low levels of sugar. Protein bars will not only help keep you feeling full, but will also provide your body with the amino acids your muscles need.
Director, Sports Performance and Education,