Are Snacks Making You Fat?
There’s this one drawer in our parents’ home that we call the snack drawer. When we go over to our Aunt’s house, she’s got one too. Well her’s is more of a cupboard. Hell, even Grandma’s got the Andes Chocolate Mints stashed in her not-so secret place.
Just think, you probably have one too.
Everyone in the family knows that upon our arrival, we go straight to these hiding places and start ravaging for the goodies. To this day, our mother cracks up at the routine search through every corner, high and low. Stop judging us, Ma.
You could say it’s more of a habit to fill our curiosity of what snacks may be behind those doors.
Unfortunately, what lies in these snack drawers becomes the downfall of hitting our macros for the day and typically ends with Ryan passed out on the couch; drool and all.
You could call it a Snack Attack.
Whether it’s developing a nutrition strategy and macronutrient breakdown for an online coaching client or working with a private chef to design a meal plan for our in-person client, we always stumble upon this single question…
What about snacks?
A simple answer: There are no snacks. Just smaller meals.
Maybe we should call them something like “sneals”. On a second thought, that’s not very appetizing.
For the sake of breaking down the best muscle-building snack ever, let’s go a bit deeper.
When you hear the word snack, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Most individuals think of something small, quick and easy to get them between one meal (lunch) and the next (dinner). Typically, it’s something packaged and processed that comes to mind and craving. Don’t believe me? Just do a quick Google image search for the word snack…
The problem that arises with snacks is that they lead to a host of behaviors that could be detrimental to achieving your goals of a smaller waistline or more lean muscle.
Snacking is synonymous with the act of grazing. Or as I like to call it “finger-picking”.
By picking your food and not having set portions in front of you, we start going down the rabbit hole and creating more problems.
After all, there’s a reason why 100-calorie snack packs were created.
For one, you are most likely going to over-eat. It’s like Pringles: “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop”. Most snacks are processed carbohydrates and extremely easy to consume. Particularly in a moment of weakness or fatigue.
Personally, I’ve seen this first hand while being on a movie set over the last five months. The catering company constantly walks around offering little snacks through the day. Already fatigued from long hours, add in a night shoot schedule, and it gets very easy for your willpower to waiver for that Anzac cookie or chorizo with rice. Mhmm, those are legit examples.
This snacking makes it pretty difficult to count calories and macros. When the food you are eating is in front of you on a dish or in a bowl, you can at least estimate your portion size using your hand as a measurement tool or eyeballing portion from a history of tracking your macros.
Most of the time, you will probably just forget about that little snack. Over time, that’s a lot of added up calories that could seriously derail your fat loss efforts.
Ok, easy enough. So you combat that by grabbing a delicious and nutritious red apple.
Not a bad choice at all. But you can do better than that.
That medium sized apple contains about 75 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber. Something you can totally fit into you macros for the day. Looking at the bigger picture, this apple creates a potential small conflict. Without any protein or fat, your blood sugar levels are spiked and then lead to an energy crash.
Now you’re starving before your next meal comes because you didn’t consume enough calories and your blood sugar levels are crashing; causing you to crave more sugar to stabilize them.
It’s a vicious cycle. One you cannot always power through. Eventually it will come nip you in the ass and possibly pack the pounds on there, too.
Most snacks are heavy on the carbohydrates and fats. Now, there’s nothing wrong with either of these macronutrients in our opinion. On the contrary, they are necessary for a balanced diet and their totals will be dependent on your current body composition and desired goals.
However, protein is often neglected when it comes to bridging the gaps between your bigger meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
A majority of our clients need more protein in their diets to support building more muscle. Protein is the building blocks of muscle, ya know?
As our fellow bro, John Romaniello, wisely states, “for most people, it’s almost never a good idea to combine fast digesting carbohydrates and fats in excess in the same meal.” Think your typical snacks and cheat meals.
To go even further, he breaks down meals into two simple yet extremely effective categories:
Protein + Carbohydrates (with minimal fat intake)
Protein + Fats (with minimal carbohydrate intake minus veggies)
Certain protein bars can be a solid solution here. Let’s save that for another time and conversation. But first…
What is the perfect snack AKA smaller meal?
Before we go into specifics, any meal — no matter its size — should ideally…
- Provide and stabilize your energy levels.
- Keep you full, satiated, and satisfied for at least 3 hours.
- Assist you in hitting your daily macro targets.
- Presents no additional cravings.
- Gives you mental clarity. Brain Fuel; NOT Brain Fog.
- Does NOT cause you digestive distress.
Even if you do everything right, hunger can and will get the best of you at one point or another. We totally get it. Sometimes, you just need a “snack” to survive that half hour as you prepare dinner, can’t stomach another protein bar, or need a quick bite before your workout.
Instead of grabbing a snack that’s going to leave you unsatisfied, try a smaller (meaning less calories) meal. Change your mindset around snacking and start making these “snacks” work for you and transforming your body.
Since we can’t just leave you hanging, we’re sharing the BEST muscle-building “snack” you can find or make on your own. You could call it a family secret. Yeah…we gave it up to you, boom just like that.