Linda J. Laurenz, RDN, LDN, Clinical Dietitian at Northwest Community Healthcare
Do you find yourself feeling sluggish in the afternoon? Do you need caffeine to get through your day? The culprit behind your low energy levels may not be lack of sleep, but the lack of the right kinds of food for that quick pick-me-up snack.
Food is your fuel. What you eat can have a significant impact on how you feel. Ever notice, for instance, how you’re hungry an hour after downing a doughnut, but you can go for hours after eating an egg on whole wheat toast? That’s because the latter has a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and fat which is crucial for blood sugar management and a driving force behind your energy levels. With this combination, your digestion is slower, which leads to more stable blood sugar and longer-lasting satiety and energy. The doughnut, meanwhile, causes your blood sugar to spike and plummet quickly, leaving you sluggish.
The perfect pairing
So how can you achieve the ideal balance of nutrients to pump up your energy between meals? I recommend paired snacks. For example, pair one food with protein or healthy fat with another food that has a carbohydrate and fiber. Pairing carbohydrates, proteins and fiber can help you feel satisfied until your next meal.
Here are two weeks’ worth of healthy snacking combos that meet these guidelines:
- Apple with nut butter
- Carrots or sugar snap peas and hummus
- Cherry tomatoes and bean dip
- Whole grain toast with avocado
- Edamame and brown rice rolled in seaweed sheets
- Nuts and fresh or dried fruit
- Fresh fruit slices and Manchego cheese
- Guacamole and corn chips
- Fruit and plain Greek yogurt
- Roasted chickpeas and ½ cup fruit juice
- Tuna and whole grain crackers
- Air-popped popcorn and Parmesan cheese
- Mozzarella cheese with tomato and basil
- Baby cucumber slices with Tzatziki yogurt dip
Snacking constitutes approximately 25 percent of the calories consumed in the United States. It has grown to represent a full eating event or a fourth meal. Why not make it a power snack so that it can benefit your diet?
Tips for meeting your recommended dietary intake
- Plan out your healthy snacks.
- Include vegetables, which are often not met in daily intakes, as a part of your snack.
- Clean and cut vegetables ahead of time, so they’re ready to go.
- When shopping, consider purchasing healthy snacks to have on hand, so that when you open the refrigerator door, it’s the first thing you see.
- Before selecting a snack, ask yourself, “Is this a healthy combination?”
Get more snacks, including healthy late night study munchies for college students and a Chia Seed Pudding recipe.