If you find yourself running into dead ends when trying to decide on what it is you should be eating during that mid- morning hunger strike, then you’re not alone. Snacking is historically seen as a bit of a gap filler, something that delivers a hit of energy, something that occupies time, satisfies boredom or satisfies us emotionally. Well, you’ll be pleased to know that as we have evolved scientifically, snacking is now held in much higher esteem compared to days gone by.
A lead researcher for food company Campden BRI has looked into where we are with snacking right now. He reflects that back in the 70’s it was all about high glycaemic index (fast releasing carbs), it was about a quick fix product that ‘gap filled’ between meals and producing cheap, readily available, usually highly processed foods that satiate hunger…if only for a short time. Since the 70’s, it seems we are now looking at snacking as a functional activity, one that serves a real purpose that we can feel. These days we are using snacks as a way to improve overall health, wellbeing and performance.
Snacking must now deliver sustained energy
Foods can cause a sustained, gradual release of energy in several ways, but two of the main ways is by consuming a carb source that is naturally low glycaemic index (GI), meaning it releases the sugar within it into your blood nice a slowly. Another way is to consume a higher GI carb (carb that releases its energy more quickly) but combine this a protein and/ or fibre source. A snack that combines carbs, protein and fibre is, in effect, a mini- meal, similar to that of a meat, potato and 2 veg meal your Grandmother would have made. A snack should be balanced if possible, not so much for nutritional adequacy but more for the sustainability of the foods energy release.
It is well understood how a snack that is high GI causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin, and although there is a time and place for this spike, such as during the closing stages of a distance race, or as you begin to flag during a workout, you DO NOT want this spike during your mid- morning or mid- afternoon at work. Such spikes during the day result in disruptions to your blood sugar (glycaemia) regulation. Conversely a low GI carb, or a higher GI carb consumed with a protein source won’t have this effect, which is only positive for energy and wellbeing during a working day.
Some useful medium to low GI snack ideas
Rice cake and nut butter
This is a prime example of a high GI carb (yep, rice cakes are actually high GI) that can have their GI reduced by adding a protein and fat source. Have a rice cake with a heaped teaspoon of nut butter and the release of energy will be more gradual…and nutritious.
Despite Beef Jerky not containing any carbs, a protein snack that follows a carb based breakfast such as oats is ideal. The protein hit will satiate you (feel full), deliver a slow release of energy, and provide your muscles with amino acids to keep those gains ticking along nicely.
Hummus and veg sticks/ pitta
Hummus is actually made from chick peas which are a great source of protein and fibre, 2 of the things that reduce the GI of a food. By combining a serving of hummus with a carb such as pitta, you’re giving your body a perfect sustained release snack. Just be sure not to demolish a whole tub of hummus, this is when things start to get messy.
Natural yoghurt and banana
This is great combination, a banana is low on the glycaemic index as it is, but combine this with natural yoghurt and you have a prize winning combo. Slice your banana into your yoghurt and enjoy, the protein content of the yoghurt is the icing on the cake (but don’t have icing, nor cake for that matter).
A low calorie, high carb protein bar is a perfect snack, it’s protein content keeps you fuller for longer as well as supplying your muscle with the amino acids it needs. The chewy consistency of many protein bars also makes them more of an eating ‘event’, plus the mastication (chewing) process also triggers a hormonal release which supresses hunger.
For other great snack ideas Check out >>> MUSCLE SNACKS : 3 Protein Packed Snacks That’ll Keep You On The Right Path…
Nutraingredients.com. Diet expert: Low- GI, energy dense snacks should be the future. Retrieved 19th May, 2015, from http://www.nutraingredients.com/Markets-and-Trends/Low-GI-snacks-Energy-density-still-important/?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=18-May-2015&c=FN21qK%2FOpvJnOHvcGW8WL3Ey74oANkMN&