Snacking The Metabolically Efficient Way
If you are looking for more healthy ways to snack and add quality foods to your diet, read this post from Fuel4mance sports dietitian Dina Griffin.
When some athletes think of snacking, many can turn to the dark side…like getting deep into the cookie jar or turning the fingers orange from the Cheetos bag. It’s as if snacking can only mean that we must be cheating and deviating from proper nutrition. If you are one of the athletes who is concerned about snacking habits, especially if you desire weight loss or body composition changes, then let us take a moment to talk about snacking the metabolically efficient way.
The concept of metabolic efficiency nutrition means that we put together meals and snacks that support stable blood sugar and insulin levels. Additionally, we use nutrition periodization principles to match our energy needs with the type of training we do and training cycle we are in. With these elements, our bodies can adapt to become better at utilizing fat as a fuel source. This comes in handy for endurance athletes, especially for the long course triathletes and ultra runners who are training and racing for several hours or even days. Why not teach the body to use its abundant fat stores for energy and hold onto those limited carbohydrate stores for as long as possible?
Now, how do we merge the idea of employing metabolic efficiency nutrition training (i.e., teaching the body to burn more fat!) with snacking AND be able to yield snacks that are still delicious and nutritious? For starters, think about this basic guideline: pairing proteins and/or healthy fats with high fiber, non-processed foods generally will result in a stable blood sugar level. You do not always need to include the high fiber food, but if you are desiring weight loss, then you are better off to consider this the majority of the time. Your basic and quickie snacks that meet this guideline are:
- almond butter and apple
- mozzarella cheese stick wrapped in deli turkey
- hummus to dip cucumber slices and jicama strips
- hard-boiled eggs stuffed with tuna salad or hummus
- guacamole to dip carrot sticks and bell pepper slices
For some other simple and fun metabolically efficient snack ideas, check these out:
- “‘Nana mash”: Mash a banana in a bowl with a fork. Next, mix in protein powder of your choice (15-20 grams of protein), equal amounts of flaxmeal, chia meal, unsweetened coconut flakes and nut butter of your choice.
- “Cottage cheese fiesta”: scoop 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese into a bowl. Next, add 1 chopped roma tomato, 1/4 to 1/2 avocado (sliced), 6 sliced black olives, season with pepper, garlic powder, and any other seasonings you desire.
- “Pumpkin smoothie”: blend 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt, 10-15 grams of vanilla or plain protein powder, 1/2 banana, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (more if you like!), and water/ice/milk to desired consistency.
- “Bacon wrapped dates”: Remove the pit from medjool dates and fill the center with a pecan. Wrap each date with 1/2 slice of turkey bacon and insert a toothpick to hold it together. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until bacon has browned.
As suggested by Nicole in an earlier post, snacking is just another way to supply fuel to your body for your day and your workouts. Although the volume of what goes into your snacks will likely be lighter than what you have at your main meals, the composition of the snacks can assist your body in the process of becoming a better fat burning machine so long as you eat to stabilize blood sugar levels, the underlying key to metabolic efficiency nutrition.
-Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD Sport Dietitian for Fuel4mance