Yes, you read that correctly! It is possible to stay healthy while snacking! Many people find themselves snacking throughout the day, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Now, that doesn’t mean you can eat any kind of snacks you want, but there are ways of doing it to keep in line with your goals. If you know you’re prone to snacking, it’s better to plan your snacks to stay healthy than try to force yourself to stop, only to find that when the urge strikes you eat the closest thing to you that, lo and behold, is unhealthy! The types of snacks you should be looking to eat will depend entirely on your end goal – someone who’s looking to bulk up will be eating differently to someone looking to slim down. I’ve split out the suggested snacks below into two sections to deal with that.
The most important things to do to ensure your snacking doesn’t have a negative impact on your nutrition goals is to understand your calorie needs and plan your meals and snacks accordingly! How specific you need to be with this will depend on how specific your goals are. If you are just generally working towards losing/gaining weight without a specific goal in mind, you might be able to get away with a vague understanding to ensure you are in a general calorie deficit/surplus. The more specific your goals are though, the more you will benefit from getting a specific understanding of your calorie needs and intake.
As you’ll know from our post on nutrition basics for bulking, in order to bulk you need to be in a calorie surplus, but that doesn’t mean you get a free pass on eating anything you like! You should work out how many calories you need (check out our post on calorie counting for beginners) and plan your meals ahead of time so that you know how many calories you have to play with for your snacks. Then, once you know that, plan your snacks accordingly.
The principle is similar for slimming down, except you need to be in a calorie deficit rather than surplus. Check out our post on top tips for losing fat for more information on losing fat!
Now you know the principles for bulking up and slimming down, which snacks are best suited to helping you achieve that?
Snacking ideas for those looking to bulk up
If your goal is to bulk up, then you’ve probably got the slightly easier time of it here, as you’ll be less restricted on what/how often you’ll want to be eating to support that goal. You’ll likely be able to eat more high calorie snacks, but you still want to make sure they are nutrient dense and healthy! Some ideas include:
· Healthy brownies (here)
· Healthy muffins (here)
· Healthy cookies (here)
· Healthy flapjacks (here)
· Dried fruit and nuts
· Apple slices with peanut butter
Snacking ideas for those looking to slim down
If your goal is to slim down, then you need to be a bit more careful with the snacks you choose and how often you eat them. You should be looking for low calorie, nutrient dense foods. Those that are high in fibre and/or protein will keep you full for longer so you should look to include those as much as possible. Some ideas include:
· Chopped vegetable sticks (carrot, celery, cucumber and peppers are all a good idea)
· Roasted chickpeas
· Apple/orange slices
· Frozen grapes
· Dried fruit