One of the hardest battles in a person’s quest to lose weight, burn fat and build muscle is the paradoxical question “What do I eat?”
Snacks are the perfect complement to a healthy and efficient diet. They help keep your metabolism running, aid in your fitness goals and keep your blood sugar and insulin levels from spiking or tanking depending on your respective goals.
If you’re training intensely, snacks are paramount to help aid you as they provide energy and help melt your fat while building lean muscle mass. But just as there are good snacks, there are terrible snacks and these are the ones that doom most people. Some of the worst foods that doom most people’s nutrition plan include:
- Chocolate Bars
- Small meals (Bagel, Wraps, Smoothies)
If you snack smartly, you can curb your hunger, keep hydrated and full while also providing your body with a much needed fuel source that can keep it performing smoothly while providing it with nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
Follow this snacking plan & you’ll burn fat, build lean muscle mass & gain energy.
Best Snacks to Burn Fat
A number of studies have confirmed that individuals who regularly consume crunchy nuts are at lower risk of being overweight than those who do without it. Nuts contain an abundance of protein, fiber, unsaturated fats and minerals and definitely help individuals in their quest to rid themselves of fat.
Scientists at Eastern Illinois University found that the extra work of shelling pistachios caused people to consume 41% fewer calories than when eating shelled nuts. To limit your sodium intake, go for unsalted nuts such as pistachios and almonds rather than salted peanuts and almonds.
Another study found that pistachio nuts, eaten as part of a healthy diet, increased the levels of antioxidants in the blood of adults with high cholesterol. Pistachios are also a great source of Vitamin B6, which is essential for the production of haemoglobin, which, in turn, supplies oxygen to the cells, also increasing the amount of oxygen supplied.
Of all the foods I’ve written about, green tea is my absolute favorite. There is no food I’m more attached to and I recommend this to each and every one of my clients. Great tea has so many benefits, I could write an entirely article on it alone (and I plan to).
Drinking Green tea throughout the day keeps your water intake high, keeps you hydrated and secretly burns fat by boosting your metabolism. A 2012 study by Pennsylvania State University study proved that individuals who regularly consumed hot tea were less likely to have stomach fat than those who did without it.
A potent antioxidant found in green tea called Epigallocatechin Gallate (ECCG) stimulates your metabolism to help shed fat as well as inhibit fat storing enzymes. And it’s not just green tea. Virtually all teas have some type of health related benefit.
Be sure to brew your own tea and not buy it from the store. Homemade Green & Black tea have upwards of 20 times more fat fighting antioxidants than bottled varities.
Avocados have been hailed by nutritionists and health practitioners for years as being a superfood. From a nutrient perspective, it has everything one needs in order to survive and be healthy and on top of this it has many illness reducing benefits.
Among some of the illnesses that avocados help prevent; cancer, heart disease and diabetes. So how does it aid in fat loss? Simple, each avocado is full of fiber which helps the digestive tract and system process food efficiently while keeping blood sugar levels steady.
It is full of healthy monosatured and polyunsaturated fats which include Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, A, C, D, E, K and B vitamins including thiamine riboflavin, niacin, biotin, vitamin B6, B12 and folate as well as potassium.
If these benefits weren’t enough for you, neurosurgeons recommend eating avocados to stave off early onset Alzheimer’s disease and to keep the brain functions normal and healthy.
Nutrients and enzymes in avocado reduce inflammation in the stomach and small intestine’s mucous lining. This also improves the body’s ability to absorb carotenoids and nutrients. This allows your body to process more healthy food (such as the other great food choices in this post).
Best Snacks to Build Muscle
Hard Boiled Eggs
There’s no question, eggs are a superfood when it comes to fitness results.
No other food provides a higher quality of protein and a combination of the egg white and yolk provide’s you with an abundance of amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Together, these contribute greatly to muscle building especially in tandem with a great training program.
When you exercise, you’re breaking tiny microfibres of muscle. One of the best ways to help repair those torn muscle fibres is through the consumption of protein. A single large hard boiled egg contains approximately 6.5 grams of protein.
The best time to consume an egg is during a post workout phase.
Jerky gets a bad wrap in terms of healthiness, but it is a great food for muscle building. The one caveat is that you must choose the right brand and product.
Avoid beef jerky that contains MSG & high levels of sodium. Instead, look for organic jerky as the animals it comes from would only have been fed organic food without preservatives or hormones.
Let’s get to why jerky is great; it has a 10:1 ratio of protein to fat, making it a perfect snack if you’re trying to increase your protein intake. Additionally the amount of B Vitamins & Iron are great for muscle building as they help aid your immune system, nervous system and red blood cell formation.
Jerky doesn’t just come in beef variety. Look for chicken, pork, turkey, salmon and buffalo varieties to try different flavours.
Greek Yogurt has a lot of buzz going for it these days. It’s being consumed in record amounts and most people equate this food with healthy eating. They’re not wrong in making this assumption.
The dairy in Greek Yogurt is particularly effective at stimulating muscle growth, while the friendly bacteria in yogurt can keep your digestive tract and immune system running smoothly.
Greek Yogurt is packed with protein providing about 20-25 grams for an 8oz serving. That’s close to double as much protein as traditional yogurt varieties. Greek yogurt has reduced sugar, so choosing a product without added variety gives you a great and tasty food without additional sugar calories.
Lastly, calcium in Greek yogurt is more easily absorbed by your body than by more traditional yogurt varieties. One serving of Greek yogurt provides you with approximately 20% of your daily calcium needs.
Best Snacks for Boosting Energy
Pumpkin seeds are the perfect snack to munch on at anytime during the day. They’re healthy, packed full of magnesium and antioxidants. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of zinc and help the prevention of diabetes and cancer. Additionally pumpkin seeds have antimicrobial benefits.
Additionally, magnesium has been proven to help improve blood-sugar control, which can keep your energy level steady throughout the day.
Consider pumpkin seeds the perfect pick me up snacks.
Oatmeal has long been at the top of the list for best foods to eat. This is because oatmeal contains the good type of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates in Oatmeal are released into your bloodstream gradually, which helps you keep your energy level elevated, while keeping your hunger down.
In a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, eating nutrient rich whole grains such as oats led to an increase in fat loss.
One thing you should be aware of, is that the Instant Oatmeal sold by Quaker Oats is often full of sugar which can negatively impact your dietary goals. Stick to ones with low sugar and/or the plain ones and add your own fruits and flavors to it.
Beet juice is one of the best pre-workout drinks to consume as it is full of nitrates, which widen your blood vessels allowing for increased blood flow to your working muscles. Nitrates also help to improve how efficiently your muscles use oxygen during physical activity.
Nitrates are compounds which improve blood flow throughout the body, including the brain, heart, and muscles. These natural nitrates increase a molecule in the blood vessels called nitric oxide, which helps open up the vessels and allows more oxygen flow as well as lower blood pressure.
Additionally, Nitrates help to protect your cardiovascular and heart health. Your cardiovascular risk decreases immensely and beet juice also helps lower incidences of metabolic syndrome.
Simply, if your body is able to increase bloodflow and process oxygen more efficiently, you will have more energy and stamina and this will allow you to train more efficiently in the gym, yielding greater results in a shorter period of time.