Do You Even Snack Bro?
You know that hangry beast I mentioned in my last post?
Well, it turns out it is a very sneaky beast and it likes to strike when you least expect it. Usually a few hours after your last meal and one or two hours before your next one. And if you do not keep it at bay, it will come out and devour whatever crosses its path.
That could mean destroying that doughnut box in the breakroom or swerving into a drive-thru on your commute. Even if you’ve been a good boy/girl and have all of your meals prepped for the day, this beast is just waiting to seize your first moment of weakness and ruin your clean-eating streak. And nothing will get in its way.
Now this hangry beast is no urban legend. It is very real and you probably have been its victim without even knowing it. Let me explain it with a little bit of science.
You see, your body is a perfectly-designed survival machine. It has a lot of mechanisms in place to make sure you don’t die and so we can continue to survive as a species. It is designed to turn everything we eat (carbs, proteins, and fats) into glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids, which are then distributed by your bloodstream throughout your entire body to be used as energy (aka your fuel).
A few hours after your last meal, the blood-glucose levels in your body start to drop. When they reach a low point, your brain perceives it as life-threatening. And in order to not let you die, it instructs other organs to release hormones that regulate your glucose levels. These include epinephrine and cortisol, the same stress hormones that your body releases when it’s in fight-or-flight (survival) mode.
So being “hangry” is a survival mechanism and you become irritable and angry because your body is literally under stress. That’s when the hangry beast is unleashed. And in order to relieve that stress, it will compel you eat very regrettable and shameful things. Yes, you know exactly what I mean, don’t give me that innocent look.
But you’re not alone, we all have these moments of weakness. The good news is that you can easily keep the beast from striking. What’s even better is that it involves doing something you already love doing. Snacking!
Because who doesn’t love snacks? You’re probably a little confused because the snacks you are used to eating may not be something you are proud of. You might be asking yourself “Is this meal prep dude really recommending snacks?” or “Is he really encouraging me to keep eating my Cheetos?”.
I know it sounds too good to be true, but snacks are key in making sure you don’t fall off your healthy horse and into the clutches of the junk-eating hangry beast within you. The thing is, not all snacks are created equal and there is a smarter, healthier way of snacking. And no, that does not include Cheetos.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the key to eating healthy is convenience. You have to have the food you need conveniently available to you at all times. You have to make it more convenient than other convenient but unhealthy alternatives like fast or processed foods. And the only way to do this is by preparing the healthy food you need ahead of time (aka Meal Prepping).
But, contrary to what the name may suggest, meal prepping is not just about meals. It involves preparing all of your meals for the week and everything in between. Snacks will help you fill in filling in the gaps between your meals, so they are complementary to your meal prepping routine.
Think of it this way; if you keep your body fueled with good food throughout the day, the chances of you overeating or going on a junk food binge are very slim. Thus, you will be less susceptible to a hanger attack.
Now here are a few quick tips on Meal Prep Snacking:
- Always have quick snacks available at home, at work, and in your car — I like to have a fruit bowl at home and at work. I also keep mixed nuts on my desk and a few protein bars in my car. Make it a habit to replenish these once a week.
- Avoid sugary snacks — Sugar will kill you. Period.
- Select pre-packaged snacks wisely — A good rule of thumb when selecting pre-packaged snacks is to look at the list of ingredients. If it includes names that you can’t pronounce, they are most likely not good for you. Avoid snacks with added fats and sugars and go for ones high in fiber and protein.
- Select snacks that are made from whole, natural ingredients.
- Pre-portion your snacks — It is easy to overeat snacks and ruin your appetite for your next meal. Remember, snacks are there to keep you from getting hangry, not to replace your meals. Avoid eating them out of the package and pre-portion them in zip-loc bags or containers.
- Avoid the C-List Snacks — Chips, candy, cake, cookies, and ice cream.
- High-protein snacks will keep you full longer
Here are some quick and healthy snack options:
- Dried or Fresh Fruits
- Dried or Fresh Vegetables
- Low-sodium Beef Jerky
- Hard-boiled eggs — Pair them with some avocado, a little salt and pepper, maybe a few dashes of hot sauce and you got yourself and incredibly delicious quick snack.
- Low-fat Dairy with No Added Sugar — Plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese
- Air-popped popcorn
- Whole grain crackers
- Protein bars — I recommend Quest bars.
Of course, as a chef, I’m all about creating recipes. If you want to get more creative and elaborate with your snacks, I will be sharing incredibly delicious recipes for snacks on my blog and at mealprep.kitchen.
Also, I will soon be releasing a Meal Prepping 101 Tutorial to all of my subscribers where I share the essentials of Meal Prepping.
Be sure to stay tuned and subscribe to my blog for more Meal Prep tips, tricks, and recipes.
Until next time. Happy Meal Prepping!