We’ve all experienced the 3 o’clock slump. It’s usually only remedied by two things: coffee and a snack. You reach for a banana, but it’s not as filling as you thought it would be. That’s because your body isn’t getting all of the nutrients it needs to feel full and satisfied. Building a healthy snack can keep your metabolism going strong and make you less likely to overeat come mealtime.
Here are a few easy tricks to building a healthy snack.
Meet the Big Three Nutrients
The three main nutrients in your diet are proteins, fats and carbs. Just like you would eat a little bit of each during a meal, you should include a little of each in your snack.
Here’s an example:
Bananas are a very nutritious food, but they’re mostly made up of carbohydrates. The sugars in a banana are quickly digested and absorbed; this means they can spike your blood sugar. After your blood sugar spikes and then drops, you could start to feel more hungry than you were before.
Let’s say you skip the banana and reach for almonds instead. Almonds are full of healthy fats and proteins. Snacking on almonds alone might not supply you with enough carbohydrates to raise your blood sugar to the point of satisfaction. In fact, you could easily make it through a 600 calorie bag of trail mix until you finally feel full.
Solution: Think 2 or More Foods
Combining the banana and almonds in one snack gives your body a little bit of protein, fats and carbs. The fat slows down how fast the carbs and sugars are absorbed, and this prevents your blood sugar from spiking. The protein keeps you satisfied until your next big meal. Together, they all keep you fueled with fewer calories than a full meal.
In order to eat a snack filled with all the big three nutrients, you’ll most likely be eating two or more foods.
Bonus Points for Fiber
In order to make your snack healthier, include foods high in fiber. Fiber has no calories and keeps you feeling full longer. An easy way to tell if a food has fiber is to consider whether it came from a plant or an animal. Almost all plant foods have fiber and animal foods have none.
Three Healthy Snack Ideas
1. Yogurt Parfait
- Yogurt (protein)
- Berries (carbs)
- Chopped nuts or chia seeds (fat)
2. Hummus and Pita
- Hummus (fat and protein)
- Whole wheat pita (carbs and protein)
When combined, chickpeas and whole wheat pita are a complete source of protein.
3. Avocado Toast
- Avocado (fats and protein)
- Whole wheat bread (carbs and protein)
Avocado is mostly known for its healthy fat, but it’s also a hidden source of protein.
Want more snack ideas? Check out the following:
- Bagel Gone Bananas
- Apricot-Walnut Cereal Bars
- Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Crackers
- Pizza Roll-Up
- Couscous & Fruit Salad
Bobby is the community and social media manager at Zipongo. He has a degree in nutrition and dietetics and previously worked as a health educator.