Snack Attack: 14 Smart (And Easy) Go-To Snacks
Crinkle, Crinkle, Crunch. I dunno about you but when I used to hear the word snack, my mind instantly connected with brightly colored bags/boxes packed with nutrition-light, crap-heavy stuff that rhymes with “shmoritos”, “shnandy” and “bookies”. Since you’re on a quest for better health and a better body with P90X2, P90X, Insanity or any other awesome Beachbody program, it’s time to give that lame association a good, solid roundhouse kick–and maybe a well-intentioned insult– to keep him down.
Done? Awesome! Now that “crappy snacks” are behind us and you’re looking for a few clean, body-fueling snacks throughout the day, what to do? First, let’s define “snack”.
The Who, What And Why of “Snack”
To put it plain: Snacks are a critical ally in keeping your nutrition focused and on point. Not because snacks have some kind of special, metabolic, fat-blasting powers but simply because snacks are the little brother/sister of breakfast, lunch and dinner– IE, smaller calorie (2-300) meals meant to keep you full, fueled and satisfied throughout the day. They’re you’re “relief” so when lunch and dinner time comes, you’re not coming off 5-6 hours of starvation, good and ready to pound anything served from a drive-thru/take-out window.
Snacks also enable you to fit in the “5-6 meals a day” rule and get enough good food to keep your transformation firing in the right direction. The “eat 5-6 times a day” may take some getting used to (especially if you’re used to eating like most of us used to– no breakfast, crappy lunch, huge dinner and snacking til bed) but with some ideas and food on hand, righteous snacking will be the glue that holds your nutrition plan together. Snacks are the secret weapon to nailing calorie goals and staying on track.
Become Snack Savvy: Coach Dan’s Snack List
Most of us are on the go and while it can be done, carrying your ice box filled with good food isn’t always feasible for everyone. Still, hitting the vending machine or pounding some Energy Drink/Soda is no longer part of the game plan– so what are your options for portability and ease of prep that will jive with your nutrition plan and keep you happy? Glad you asked because here’s my list.
Keep in mind, just because these items are good choices doesn’t mean you can eat them with reckless abandon. You’re still trying to stay within your needed calorie goals and protein/carb/fat (macronutrient) ratios for ultimate results. Fit these snacks in as needed with some protein/carb/fat mixing, matching and culinary creativity:
- Sugar Snap Peas: Veg. Green, sweet and crunchy. A serving is roughly 20-25 sugar snap peas. I usually add these as chaser to a protein bar/jerky snack.
- 0% Greek Yogurt (unflavored– Fage or Chobani): Protein. I ditched cottage cheese for Greek Yogurt because it had less sodium, was creamier and packed a huge protein wallop. Add a half to full cup of berries and some almonds (parfait!) and you’ve got a sinfully textured treat. Still, plain Greek Yogurt is sour. I’ve heard it described as “licking a dead donkey’s you-know-what” but it has so many benefits with protein and live probiotics, I love it, despite my on-again-off-again relationship with dairy.
- Shakeology: Veg +Protein + Carb. You knew I’d go there. Great for on-the-go nutrition. Perfectly balanced as a low-cal snack if you don’t turn it into a full meal with added protein, fruit or other mix-ins. Can’t say enough about this stuff.
- Protein shake and apple: Protein + Carb. A scoop of whey protein and an apple. An old bodybuilding stand-by and one that works great when lined up with your daily macros.
- Fruit. Berries are best. Low glycemic, nutritionally packed and sweet, sweet. Apples and kiwis are cool too. Bananas are awesome for pre and post workout but they are high glycemic and I avoid them as a later day snack. Remember to eat these with a a serving of protein.
- Turkey Jerky- Protein. Crazy easy. Measure out a serving or two, bag it and you’re on your way. I use sugar snap peas with it to add some veg. Still, don’t go too crazy. This stuff is frighteningly high in sodium.
- Beef Jerky- Protein. A “sometimes” food. Buy Jack Link’s original or skip this all together. Far too many beef jerky brands go overboard on sugar. Jack Links keeps things in parameters I can live with. Actually lower in sodium than Turkey.
- Almonds- Fats + Protein. King of the nuts! Now this is tricky. There’s all kinds of flavored varieties and they are made addictive on purpose. They’re slightly lower on the nutrition scale and you’ll eat the whole can in one shot and that ain’t good. I prefer raw as there’s some controversy surrounding the cooked varieties and their potential to release acrylamide.
- Cottage Cheese (non-fat or 2%): Protein. Heavy on the protein and can be mixed with virtually anything. Except maybe peanut butter. I dunno, I haven’t tried it. BUT, I’ve seen it used with hot sauce, so who knows. I prefer a moderate serving of berries.
- Protein Bars: Carb + Protein + Fats. A necessary evil in my opinion but there are bars MUCH better than most of the filler-packed, candy coated stuff you’ll see on store shelves. Quest Bars are my bar of choice. They’re about $2.00 a pop.
- String Cheese- Protein. Decent protein, a little high in sodium bu easy to pack. This is what I’d call a “sometimes” snack– not something I’d take every day but I’ve been know to tear into it from time to time.
- Baby Carrots- Veg. Higher in sugar but these satisfy the crunch. The serving size is about 8-9.
- Apple Tuna Salad. Protein + Carb + Fat. I like it. It’s easy, low cal and portable if you have a fridge on hand.
- Sugar Free Jello–Nothin’. DISCLAIMER: I don’t use it as there’s nothing to it and I can’t figure out what to use it with as a “meal”. Heck, it’s not really a food or any worth to your body whatsoever but I know plenty of folks who use this to punch their sweet tooth when it comes knocking.I advocate skipping it but hey- if you need baby steps…
These snacks fit nicely into the Fat Shredder and Energy Booster phases of a nutrition program so I didn’t include many snacks on the higher carb Endurance Maximizer phase (peanut butter and Ezekiel Bread, for example). Most of the Beachbody nutrition guides have lots of ideas for snacks as well (The Recovery Formula, despite the P90X nutrition guide suggestion, is NOT a snack). Snacks are pretty cost-efficient and should be designed to keep your body fueled and full. You get the idea. Protein, Carb, fats.
Pack that into your nutrition and calorie percentages for the day and you’re good to go!