It`s easy to fall into the pattern of skipping breakfast, siphoning down numerous cups of coffee, and snacking on high sugar, high fat snacks throughout the day. Problem is, you probably end up so famished by the time you get home that you end up over indulging at dinner and spending the rest of the evening as an award-winning couch potato.
The trick is to eat strategically. This means having small meals and healthy snacks every few hours. By eating at regular intervals, you will keep your blood sugar levels steady and balanced. This in turn will increase your energy levels and your capacity to get things done. It may also help you lose some weight!
What’s in a smart snack? Ideally, a snack should meet the following criteria:
• A smart snack should fit into your hand. After all it is a snack and not a meal.
• Each snack should contain about 500 kJ for women; 750 kJ for men.
• The carbohydrate content should be no more than 25 g for women; 35 g for men.
• The fat content should be about 10 g per snack (although for weight loss closer to 5 g is better)
• The fibre content should preferably be at least 2 g fibre per snack.
• Fresh fruit is best. Single pieces or fruit salad – no more than two tennis balls in size.
• Dried fruit – small handful or dried fruit bars – one dried fruit bar.
• Health bars – to meet the criteria above.
• Lean biltong, boiled egg, protein shake.
• Mini crudités (cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, baby corn, sugar snap peas) with a low fat dip.
So don’t ignore your hunger! Going for long periods without food can compromise energy and performance. It may also decrease your metabolism, cause muscle loss and lead to overeating and weight gain.
In short, be a grazer…not a gorger.