Healthy snacks are an important part of healthy eating.

Healthy snacks are an important part of healthy eating.

Kalina_hunter_gathererChoosing the right healthy snacks can help you maintain vibrant health. Humans are naturally grazers and there are health benefits to eating throughout the day.

By nature, humans are hunter/gatherers.

Our modern lifestyle and the ease and convenience of living in an industrialized nation certainly reduces the importance of our hunter/gatherer origins but our biology didn’t change as quickly as technology did. We are designed to eat throughout the day. Spreading your food intake throughout the day keeps blood sugar levels balanced and actually helps your body burn more calories.

Healthy snacks are a valuable component of a healthy lifestyle for this reason. You’ll perform better at work when your blood sugar levels stay steady, you’ll have better control over your hunger at your big meals and you’ll burn 5% to 10% more calories by spreading your food throughout the day. That last benefit is called the “thermic effect” of food. Basically, it takes energy for your body to process food.

Choose healthy whole snack foods, not just anything you can find.

Fast food joints are NOT restaurants.
Potato chips, candy bars, something off the 99¢ menu at a fast food joint… none of these things are an acceptable substitute for healthy snacks. While most people understand that on a basic level, let’s get deeper about it. According to a study done at the Department of Biology of Pomona College in Claremont, CA, the thermic effect of processed foods is 50% lower than the thermic effect of whole foods. You know the idea of empty calories, here is scientific evidence of just how empty those calories are. Processed foods are exactly that, processed, and it take less effort for your body to break them down. And that’s not a good thing.

What to look for in healthy snack ideas

Choose healthy snacks like trail mix and fruit

All your meals, including your healthy snacks, should have a balance of macronutrients. Macronutrients is a way of subdividing foods in the biggest picture: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. A healthy balance of these macronutrients is: 30% protein, 15%-20% fat and 50%-55% carbohydrates. If you’re like me and you want to keep as much of your life as simple and easy to manage as possible, find snack foods like trail mixes or snack bars that come as close to this balance as possible. READ LABELS!

A single serving in nutritional information is 1 ounce or 28 grams. Seek out mixes that have these approximate balances: 8 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat and 14 grams of carbohydrates. As a plug for a snack that I eat regularly, NuGo Organic Double Chocolate bars have 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 26 grams of carbohydrates. That’s an excellent balance. The fat helps you feel satiated, the protein helps rebuild your tissues and keeps the thermic effect high and the carbohydrates give you the energy you need to keep mentally sharp through your day.

If you prefer more all natural and unprocessed healthy eating, have a medium sized apple and an ounce of raw almonds (about 23 almonds if you want to get all nerdy about it). You’ll take in 6.5 grams of protein, 14.7 grams of fat and 30.3 grams of carbs. While strictly by the numbers, that appears to be a bad ratio of fat to protein, the fat in raw almonds is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, both of which have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Again, you’ll feel satiated from the healthy fats, get plenty of carbs for alertness and energy, a respectable amount of protein PLUS a whopping 7 grams of fiber.

So eat two healthy snacks per day.

Put one between breakfast and lunch and the other between lunch and dinner. Choose your snacks wisely and keep it simple. Eating healthy snacks might be the easiest change to your lifestyle to help you become healthier.


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