Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.”? While this rings true, the good news here is that you are in control of your destiny when it comes to eating well for health.
To get the most from your time in the gym and to really make a positive impact on your health, you have to eat three healthy meals per day, plus a couple of healthy snacks if you like.
- Snacks should always be low in sugar, even natural sugars such as fruit (2 pieces of fruit per day is plenty).
- Snacks should also ideally contain a mix of complex carbs and protein to make them count.
- Importantly, snacks should be small; they should not replace a meal.
- Please keep in mind that snacks, however healthy they are, contain calories that also need to be considered when formulating your weight loss plan.
- Snacks need to be prepared and kept handy. Don’t fall prey to walking into a shop and reaching for the nearest muffin/chocolate bar. That’s an absolute “must not do”.
Read on for my top healthy snacks for weight loss and health.
Mid-morning snacks should be light and contain a little carb mixed with protein to keep you going until lunch. Try to keep this one small, as it’s only a short while until lunchtime. Keep it simple. Ideas include:
- Banana/apple and a small handful of nuts
- A packet of oat cakes and hummus/avocado dip
- A couple of dry biscuits with a cup of tea
- A couple of rice cakes with nut butter
Afternoon snacks “keep the wolf from the door” to tie you over until dinnertime.
I prefer to recommend higher protein snacks in the afternoon to keep you going longer, and to give you enough energy for the gym after work possibly. They should be low in sugar and small enough to keep you hungry for your main meal. Ideas include:
- Small low-sugar nut bar (Aldi offers a great sea salt/peanut low-sugar bar in the free-from section)
- Small pot of natural yoghurt with seeds and a piece of fruit
- Carrot/celery/pepper/cucumber sticks and hummus
- Rice cakes and nut butter
- Homemade low-sugar flapjack
- A small homemade green salad with tomatoes
Post-workout snacks can potentially be very important.
Ideally, you need to eat within half an hour of the end of your workout session, but at the latest, within 1 ½ hours of the workout session ending. If you can get yourself home and make/eat dinner in that time, I recommend you use dinner as your post-workout meal. If you have to keep going and face the risk of “running on empty” for a while, do reach for a nutritious post-workout snack. Ideas include:
- Wholemeal pita bread with hummus and dark green leaves
- Banana on 2 rice cakes with a little nut butter
- Small handful of nuts and dried fruit
- Protein balls
- Homemade flapjacks
- High protein smoothie/recovery drink
If you have mastered your healthy snacks, here are some handy ideas for healthy meals.
- Start your day with a wholesome breakfast that has to contain protein. Examples include a couple of fried/scrambled/poached/boiled eggs on wholemeal toast, bacon and eggs on wholemeal toast, good quality muesli with yoghurt or milk/milk substitute, and avocado on toast.
- Next, make sure to eat vegetables for lunch. For example, vegetable soup with a little protein such as beans or chicken; wholesome salad of quinoa/couscous, nuts and greens; leftover dinner from the night before; chicken/Caesar wrap.
- Make dinner count. Enjoy a plateful of fresh food that consists of half green and colourful vegetables, ¼ meat/fish/alternative and ¼ complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, wholemeal pasta, quinoa or wholemeal rice.