Remove the stigma of snacking
Fitness and Wellness Coach, Gideon Akande, shares his tips on how to snack guilt free while fueling your body for exercise.
16 Jul 2020
Keeping nutrition at the heart of health and wellness goals
When we think about our own personal wellness, we tend to focus primarily on our physical fitness first.
Nutrition is intertwined with fitness on the path to overall health and wellness. Food is the fuel for our bodies and we can’t function or exercise properly if we are not well nourished.
We can see the difference in the performance of athletes who are fuelling their bodies effectively compared with those that aren’t. To reach your peak level of fitness and wellness, it is essential to learn how to appropriately and healthfully fuel your body for physical activity and daily life.
I work with my clients to not only get physically fit, but to learn how to feed their bodies appropriately to reach their goals.
Eliminate the snacking confusion with this simple formula
If you're like 95% of U.S. consumers, you're probably snacking between meals on a daily basis. I frequently get questions about this meal occasion from clients and followers regarding how to do this better.
How we choose to snack is a defining element to our health and physical function. Over the last ten years, we've seen a shift in the trend toward healthier snacking as more nutrition information has become available and with increased product availability.
With so many options available nowadays, the seemingly endless choices can cause confusion! It is possible to snack without the guilt and confusion. Here are basic snacking principles that I share with my clients to use snacks as another source of energy and nourishment.
Protein or Healthy fat + Carbohydrate + Vegetable (bonus)
= A Better-for-You Snack
Protein and healthy fats will provide that much needed hunger satisfaction, while the carbohydrate portion is necessary for energy. When choosing a carb, opt for a complex carbohydrate, such as a whole grain, or even fruit. And colourful vegetables can always be added!
Here are a few examples of better-for-you snack combos:
- Hummus + whole grain crackers + carrots
- Mixed nuts + dried fruit
- Cultured and/or protein yoghurt + apple slices
And some products have it all in one:
- Whey protein smoothie
- Protein bars
- Protein bircher muesli
- Some ready-to-drink protein beverages
Using the formula before and after working out
How we use this formula to fuel the body for physical activity is largely determined by the time of day that you choose for your workout and it will vary from person to person.
- Before working out, grab a snack with more carbohydrates and less protein, about 30 minutes to an hour ahead
- Carbs = Energy. This ensures that you have enough energy to get through the activity.
- After working out, opt for a snack that has more protein, but still contains carbs. Have a snack within 30 minutes of completion, or skip the snack and have a full meal up to an hour afterward.
- Protein is necessary for muscle repair and recovery especially after strength-training and carbohydrates are still needed to replenish energy stores.
Choosing the right products and protein from so many options
The natural next question is "What about those 'healthy indulgences' like bars, shakes, or other protein-fortified foods?"
There are so many options to choose from all claiming some sort of nutritional benefit. These items have grown in popularity as a result of the demand for convenience and all-in-one snacks or drinks.
Even I love having a healthy indulgence for breakfast with some high protein pancakes or muffins. The combination of carbohydrates and protein gives me the energy I need for a busy morning and keeps me satiated so I don't feel like I'm starving come lunchtime.
So many options for products AND so many different options for proteins.
I recommend dairy-based proteins to my clients, such as whey or casein protein, because of their superior amino acid profiles
Gideon Akande | Fitness and Wellness Coach
Most dairy-based proteins are complete, meaning they contain all of the nine essential amino acids that the body needs.
Personally, I prefer dairy-based proteins for the taste factor as well with a more neutral flavor. In terms of a complete amino acid profile, soy protein is close but lower in the amino acid methionine when compared with dairy proteins.
Plant-based proteins, such as rice or pea, have less absorption power than dairy-based products, however, they have demonstrated the ability to stimulate muscle growth. These are good for vegans, vegetarians, or lactose intolerance.
Concentrate or isolate? I typically prefer protein concentrates over isolates because they undergo less processing, however, the processing of isolates results in a higher protein with less fat and lactose.
Tips to aid your snacking decision
So how do you choose a product with all that information? The choice is very personal, according to an individual’s nutritional and lifestyle needs. Here are my quick and easy tips:
1. Let the meal occasion help guide your choice. Is it a snack to satisfy hunger in the afternoon? Pre/post-workout? Meal replacement?
2. Look at the protein, carbs, and fat. Keeping in mind the snack formula above, a good bar will have at least 10 grams of protein (20 grams or more if you are replacing a meal), carbohydrates between 25-35 grams (pre-workout can be a little higher), and saturated fats lower than 4 grams (20% of your daily value).
3. Consider the type, source and taste of the protein. Whey, casein, soy, or plant-based proteins based on your needs.
Beyond these guidelines, it's all up to you! Vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, flavour, texture, etc. - all according to your individual preferences. For example, my perfect protein bar would have a balance of nutrients, plus:
- It tastes like cookies and cream
- I can finish each bite in 8 chews
- With a no longer than a 30 second after taste
- It sits well in my stomach (I don't want to regret having it)
- I only need one. I don't want to still be hungry after eating it
- It has to travel well
Food and fitness go hand in hand. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to nutrition or exercise. You have to find what's right for your individual needs and lifestyle and balance is key.
Just remember that what you eat at meals or snacks is the fuel that your body has to run on, so why not make it premium?
Fitness and Wellness Coach
Gideon Akande, Men’s Health Next Top Trainer 2015 winner, is a two-time Chicago Golden Gloves champ who runs the city’s toughest military-style boot camp fitness classes. His new RIPTENSITY program features fast bodyweight workouts that are so intense, they’ll rip away your body fat.