Nutrition Month 2022 is centered on the key ingredients for a healthier tomorrow, which includes building your health literacy. This Nutrition month, we’ve partnered with of Vitality Nutrition‘s Registered Dietitian Courtney Berg to build your food literacy skills. Click here to meet Courtney.
Imagine this: it’s 3pm and you’ve breezed through the first part of your work day. Suddenly, you feel your energy drop and your motivation fade. You can’t decide if you should grab an extra cup of coffee or scrounge up a sugar-y snack from the office breakroom! Before you reach for caffeine and sugar, you remember that you have a third option: the balanced snack you packed from home! You enjoy your strategic snack and return to your alert, energized state of mind.
How to build a strategic, energizing snack
An energizing snack is one that provides your brain with fuel in the form of carbohydrates while also being rich in fibre, protein, and/or fat. Fat, protein, and fibre slow the rate at which the body digests and absorbs carbohydrates. A snack containing a fibre-filled carbohydrate source paired with protein and/or fat gently nudges blood sugars upward. A gentle rise in blood sugar is what leads to sustained energy without the unwanted consequences of a low blood blood sugar which include fatigue, sleepiness, cravings, and headaches. In other words, you get an energy lift without a crash!
A Dietitian’s top tips for successful snacking
It does take some planning and thoughtfulness to build a snack that powers you through the day. Consider these tips when selecting your energizing snack:
- As discussed, aim to include a protein, fibre, and/or fat source for lasting energy. (eg. pair a fibre-filled apple with almonds that contain both fat and protein)
- Plan a snack when you have more than 5 hours between meals. Blood sugars tend to fade around 4-5 hours after eating, so planning a snack between meals will support your energy and help you manage hunger (for example, if you eat lunch at 12pm and plan to have dinner at 6pm, then you’ll likely benefit from an afternoon snack!)
- Take a moment to plan your snack the night before or the morning of. By thinking through your day, you can avoid impulse snacking and be prepared with a snack that will support your energy!
- Consider your environment and what type of snack will be most suitable. For example, do you have access to a refrigerator to store a fresh snack like yogurt, or will you need something shelf-stable and portable like a protein bar or beef jerky?
10 quick and energizing snack ideas
Now that we’ve reviewed the importance of strategic snacks, let’s consider some energizing snack combinations that include fibre, protein, and/or healthy fats alongside key vitamins and minerals to support your overall health.
1. Greek yogurt with berries
Plain Greek or Skyr yogurt and berries make a delicious, nutrient-dense snack. Greek yogurt is high in protein and berries are packed with filling fibre. Using frozen berries is often more budget-friendly, and the juices from the frozen berries release as they thaw to sweeten the tart yogurt. For a crunchy element and source of healthy fat, consider sprinkling in your favorite nut or seed like pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds!
2. Oysters with whole grain crackers and cream cheese
In addition to being a source of protein, oysters are packed with health-promoting nutrition like iron and omega 3. Enjoy oysters on their own or pair them with whole grain crackers and cream cheese for a boost of fibre and fats.
3. Chia seed pudding
Chia seeds are incredibly nutritious and high in healthy fats and fibre. To make chia pudding, combine 3 tablespoons of chia seeds with 1 cup of dairy or plant-based milk. If you’d like, add vanilla extract or maple syrup for flavour! Let the mixture sit in the fridge overnight and top it with fruit, nuts, or seeds in the morning and take it with you to work.
4. Roasted chickpeas
Seasoned and roasted chickpeas require no further food combination as the beans themselves are rich in both fibre and protein. To make roasted chickpeas, simply rinse and drain a can of chickpeas and toss them in olive oil and your favorite spices. Roast at 425°F for 20-30 minutes or until golden and crispy!
5. Tuna or hummus with whole grain crackers and veggies
Canned fish may not be the first food that comes to mind when you think of snacks, but it’s a protein-packed option that requires no refrigeration. If you don’t love tuna, consider swapping it out for hummus as a spread for crackers and a dip for veggies!
6. Homemade muffin with peanut butter
A homemade muffin made with fibre-filled oats and spread with nut butter will satisfy your sweet tooth without sending your blood sugars on a roller coaster ride!
7. A piece of fruit with cheese sticks or almonds
Pair your favorite piece of fruit with cheese sticks or almonds for a portable snack and a winning combination of fibre, protein, and fats.
8.Turkey sticks, hard boiled eggs, or beef jerky with almonds or fruit
Pair turkey sticks, hard boiled eggs, or beef jerky with nuts or fruit for a quick and portable snack. Turkey sticks and beef jerky are higher in sodium which may be ideal for individuals with higher sodium needs (eg. athletes) and less ideal for people with lower sodium needs (eg. individuals with high blood pressure). For a lower sodium option, choose the hard boiled eggs as a protein source alongside fruit and unsalted nuts!
9. Sweet or savory cottage cheese
If you happen to enjoy cottage cheese, you can satisfy either a sweet or savory craving depending on the toppings you choose. Mix cottage cheese with berries and seeds for a sweet version or top cottage cheese with dill, cucumbers, and cheddar cheese for a savory combination.
10. A high fibre protein bar
Having a portable bar to stash in your purse, desk drawer, or travel-bag is a powerful strategy to stick to supportive snacking while on-the-go. Consider selecting a protein bar that has >12g of protein and >3g of fibre per bar. For example, an Rx bar or Simply Bar.
Dietitian Tip: Be cautious of bars that contain sugar-alcohols (eg. xylitol) or added fibres (eg. inulin) as these additives can disrupt digestion for some individuals.
A well-planned snack can help to manage hunger and support blood sugar balance throughout the day. When building snacks, consider combining two or more food groups to obtain a combination of fibre, protein, and/or fat for long-lasting energy!
Meet Courtney Berg, RD, B.Sc. Nutrition
About Courtney | Courtney Berg is a Registered Dietitian and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan in 2016. Her approach to nutrition continues to evolve as she learns and grows with her clients at Vitality Nutrition. However, a holistic approach remains the base of her philosophy with an emphasis on understanding how nutrition as well as sleep, mindset, exercise, and the environment work together to influence whole body health.
About Vitality Nutrition | Vitality Nutrition is a collective of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists supporting clients in Saskatchewan and across Canada! We incorporate a unique and meaningful approach to food, fitness, and performance that empowers clients to build life-long habits and see lasting results.