Friday, 9 November 2012

All About Snacking (with a touch of Barack)

I suppose I must start this morning by congratualing BO, not the kind that often dominates individuals in the gym but the re-elected President of the United States, Barack Obama. I'm not really a follower of politics, especially American politics, but I think the right man won.. He just seems far more appealing, especially to us 'over the pond,' and when his nearest rival questions the state of our readiness over the greatest sporting spectacle in history and riles our boy Boris, we know that he's trouble! One thing I would definitely question is the total money spent on the entire election campaign.. it totalled $6 billion!! That's absolutely crazy.. Instead of going on a rant about those ludicrous figures, I'll stick to something I know about, and you definitely don't need $6 billion..

I want to briefly touch on the subject of snacking. In my eyes, regular consumption of food (every 2-4hrs) is vital if you want to change your body composition. Whether it's to lose a few stubborn pounds or to add muscle, those extra meals outside the 'big three' are crucial. I know Intermittent Fasting (IF) has had some good publicity recently and results to prove it, but I think there's a specific time and place for IF and it's very dependant on the individual. I like IF because there are many ways that you can perform it and it goes on the premise of eating healthy, nutritionally dense foods during certain 'windows.' However for many of my existing clients and other individuals who have busy working days and rely on their mental clarity, I would much rather educate them to eat regularly to maintain balanced blood sugar levels and keep a sustainable energy balance throughout the duration of the day.

Like with all aspects of a successful nutrition plan, snacks/small meals come down to preparation and organisation. By being organised you wont succombe to the temptation of the biscuits/donuts/pastries/crisps that is so easily accessible in the office environment. It's also a good refusal strategy, just to say 'no thanks, I've bought my own.' So as you see your colleagues slowly crashing due to the blood sugar level dip (and their waistlines expanding), you will be more productive and feel better as the snacks I mention below all help to keep you full of both energy and your appetite satiated.

With each snack, your first thought should be protein. Protein is an essential macronutrient and is made up of amino acids which help the body with the repair and growth of muscle tissue. Protein also helps the body to burn fat as more energy is needed to break down protein than fat molecules. As mentioned above, they keep you fuller for longer. What snacks contain protein...

Nuts and seeds (unsalted) - There's a big misconception that nuts are bad for you as they contain lots of calories.. rubbish! Nuts contain essential fats (mostly mono and poly-unsaturated fats), high levels of protein and plenty of fibre. The type of nut that you eat isn't important, (be careful with peanuts - see below). Nuts also pack a heavy punch when it comes to levels of Omega 3's. They are one of the best plant based foods for levels of this fatty acid. They are also high in vitamin E which has shown to help stop the development of plaque build up in your arteries, which can cause a narrowing of the arteries and increase the risk of diabetes and heart attacks. Have a handful of mixed nuts and seeds or any nut of your choice UNSALTED!! I know they are more-ish but just keep it to a handful!

Eggs - Yes, I know they can be pretty pungent (!), but they are one of the highest biological sources of protein. Packed with vitamins, minerals, all in all a great food source. You may be a bit hesitant about eating them and raising your cholestral level, again, absolute rubbish, numerous studies have shown that by eating eggs they actively lower you ldl (bad cholestral) and increase you hdl (good cholestral) levels. They are a great source of choline, this nutrient helps regulate the brain, nervous and cardiovascular system. Choline is found in the yolk of the egg so don't throw the best bit away! In one study it showed that eggs also promote the growth of hair, this is due to their high sulphur content and wide range of vitamins and minerals. Many people found their hair growing faster when eggs were added to their diet.. I better get a couple dozen in then!!! Boil a couple up the night before and take them to work.. try it!

Hummus and Carrot/Celery/Apple - Hummus, is high in fibre and protein and contains healthy mono-unsaturated fats which are heart healthy and will keep you fuelled until your next main meal. Combine it with a fibrous veggie and you've got a great snack... just try not to eat the whole pot in one go!!

Nut Butters on oat/rice cakes - Try and source out the Meridian Almond butter - you can get it from Sainsburys, tastes great and is better for you than regular peanut butter, as peanuts are highly inflammatory because they contain a toxin aflotoxin. Add almond/cashew/hazlenut butter to an oatcake with a banana on top.... tastes amazing, perhaps a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Dried fruits - Raisons, apricots, cranberries - Dried Apricots are packed with Vitamin A which is considered an anti-oxidant so it will help protect cells from all those roaming free radicals. These are sweet and would be ideal to have a handful of these before your workout, give you that bit of energy before those burpees!!

So there's just a couple of ideas for some healthy snacks to consume in between the 'big 3.' All are easily accessible, you don't need to take out a mortgage to buy any of them and they will leave you feeling full and with bags of energy. These are snack ideas for individuals who want to improve their nutrition and perhaps shift that little bit of stubborn bodyfat.

I'm off to buy a euromillions ticket.. £121 million the jackpot is tonight!! Still, that's not even a dent on $6 billion....


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