Eating on the go has never been so complex. From crisps made out of fruit to kale that has been doused in spicy cacao, the choices are mind-boggling. It’s time to get back to basics.
Personal trainer Sam Heffer picks five, simple go-to snacks that promote fat burn, build muscle and crush any mid-morning cravings.
1. Skinless Chicken breast
No need to dehydrate, reconstitute or sprinkle this most basic of foods with any spirulina. Chicken packs a punch when it comes to nutritional benefits. Its high protein content helps build muscle. It is rich in phosphorus and calcium, which keep bones strong. It contains selenium, which has been known to cut the risk of arthritis. And it contains two nutrients that help relieve stress: tryptophan and vitamin B5. Cook the night before and you have a tasty, versatile, low fat snack the following day that is unquestionably good for you.
Did you know? There is no food that will literally “burn fat”, however making smart choices will help. Snacking on high protein food (and exercising) fuels the growth of lean muscle, which boosts metabolic rate and increases calorie burn.
2. Hard boiled eggs
The humble egg is one of the easiest (and cheapest) muscle-building snacks to munch on mid-morning. The whites contain an abundance of branched-chain amino acids, which are metabolised in your muscles and provide an important source of energy. They also reduce exercise-induced muscle damage. Boil up a few at the beginning of the week and store them in the fridge at work for those moments when the vending machine is tempting you.
Top tip: Always pick snacks that appeal to your taste buds. No matter how nutritious a food is, if you don’t like it then you’re not going to eat it. This leads to the quick fixes (it’s just one biscuit) resulting in an over consumption of calories.
Another satiable and high-protein food that is endlessly versatile. The lactic bacteria it contains helps support your immune system, protecting you against food bugs and ensuring your digestive system is tip top. Go for the low-fat versions if you are really watching your calories, just make sure there is no added sugar. And don’t pour off the whey liquid that separates from the milk solids, it is full of protein.
Did you know? Icelandic yoghurt skyr has more protein than its Mediterranean counterpart and is virtually fat free.
Nuts reign supreme as nutritional powerhouses, packed with loads of protein, cholesterol-busting monounsaturated fat and energy-boosting B vitamins. However the high fat content makes them calorie-dense, so it is important to keep portions small.
Top tip: Pistachios with shells on are a great snack option: the extra work needed to shell them can put a brake on mindless overeating.
5. Protein shakes
Although a processed food, whey protein shakes are worth stocking up on as a super convenient snack. They are easily consumed, high in protein and have a variety of flavours that would appeal to almost anyone’s taste buds – a vitally important factor when trying to lose fat. Whey protein shakes are not to be confused with steroids – they have no direct influence on your hormones – or mass gainers. Protein shakes deliver amino acids to muscle cells, helping them to recover after strenuous workouts.
Top five tips for choosing healthy snacks:
– appealing to taste buds
– low calorie
– sufficient protein (roughly 20g)
– low fat
– easily accessible