Just because you’re focused on fitness doesn’t mean you’ll never crave a mid-morning, afternoon, or before-bedtime snack. But if you truly want to be fitness-forward, you’ll have to switch up your snack choices, replacing empty calories or sugary options with healthier alternatives that support your fitness goals. Here’s a list of our ten favorite crave-worthy, nutrient-rich snacks.
Nuts get lots of attention in health blogs—and rightfully so. The unsaturated fatty acids found in most every type of nut can actually promote a healthy heart. Plus, choosing nuts over fried, fatty, or ultra-salty snacks is a benefit that needs no explanation. Nuts also contain fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol and will make you feel full, so you resist the urge to eat constantly, and mindlessly. Almonds, cashews and walnuts are always excellent choices. Of course, it goes without saying that you should avoid honey-roasted anything, and try going raw. Don’t counter-act the benefits of nuts by adding lots of salt and sugar! If you need a sweet kick once in a while, throw some dried fruit, raw coconut, or even a few dark chocolate chips in the mix for a healthy snack that satisfies your sweet tooth.
Fresh fruit is always a great way to take in nutrients while filling up on something light. The water, fiber, and antioxidants in fruit will help promote hydration and boost your overall health. Eating some protein with a bit of healthy fat along with the fruit. This can help avoid a spike in blood sugar that can then be followed by a drop shortly after when fruit is eaten alone. Having a tablespoon of nut butter, a slice of raw cheese, or some nuts are a great pairing with your fruit snack.
Smoothies are a fun and creative way to pack a lot of nutrition into a small container. Starting with a handful of organic greens (spinach, kale, etc.), add some organic frozen fruit, organic vanilla whey or vegetable protein, water, and blend. To kick up a notch, add some superfoods to the mix like chia seeds, hemp seeds, extra greens and reds powder, or coconut oil. This is also a great time to add in your probiotic!
Juice extractors pull tons of nutrients out of fruits and vegetables and can fill you up while delivering essential vitamins, and powerful enzymes. Stay away from ultra-sugary juice like pure orange juice; instead, base the foundation of your juice on Celery, iron-rich spinach, or nutrient packed kale. Green juice can be an acquired taste, so to sweeten it up without going overboard on sugar, simply throw an apple and a carrot or two into your juicer. Spicing it up with some ginger or garlic can create a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory juice.
Hummus is typically prepared with chickpeas, sesame paste, olive oil, lemon, garlic, and a bit of salt. This trifecta of healthy protein, fiber, and fat can be made in an endless variety of added flavors. For example, substitute chick peas with cannellini or black beans. Don’t be afraid to spice it up either. That is just another way to pack in the antioxidant power of herbs and spices. Use the hummus to dip veggies, or in a lettuce wrap with some sliced turkey and veggies.
Seeds are often overlooked tasty snack but they are packed with vitamins, minerals, essential oils and protein. Did you know that sesame seeds are loaded with calcium? Sesame seeds are a perfect way to increase your calcium intake! Flax seeds contain disease fighting compounds, primarily the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linoleic acid (ALA), fiber and lignans. ALA. An essential fatty acid found it flax, improves the metabolism of fats which is especially helpful for endurance sports. Flax seeds must be ground to release their benefits. Don’t grind them until you are going to eat them as they can oxidize and lose nutrient value. Add the ground flax to your smoothie, oatmeal, or yogurt. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are great sources of magnesium, zinc, Omega-3s, vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Add some seeds to your nut mix for a great after workout repletion snack!
7. Greek yogurt
Yogurt is loaded with calcium and beneficial bacterial cultures and chock full of probiotics, which boost the health of your digestive system. One of the main benefits of going Greek (plain) is the lowered sugar count, compared to other yogurts. You can add your own fresh fruit if you are used to fruit flavored yogurts.
Not just any chocolate; raw chocolate! Raw unprocessed cacao contains many important vitamins and minerals including:
- Magnesium, and other essential minerals including calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese
- Polyphenols called flavonoids, with antioxidant properties
- Vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, E
- Essential heart-healthy fat: oleic acid a monounsaturated fat
Raw chocolate can also neutralize free radicals! There are many components of cacao including alkaloids, proteins, beta-carotene, leucine, linoleic, lipase, lysine, and theobromine, that all work together to improve physical and mental health. For example, theombromine helps to stimulate the central nervous system, relax smooth muscles, and dilate blood vessels, giving the body a boost of energy; “bliss” chemicals found in cacao.
There are many ways that you can incorporate raw cacao into your everyday diet.
Raw Chocolate Eating Tips:
- Blend into your smoothies.
- Add whole beans or nibs to granola and trail mixes.
- Add nibs or powder to oatmeal or yogurt.
- Mix powder with dairy or nut milk.
- Add powder to your favorite protein drink.
- Raw cacao balls (dates, walnuts, and raw cacao in a food processor).
Go for guacamole as a source of healthy fat and vitamin E. Made with ripe avocados, aromatic garlic and fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro and lime juice, guacamole adds texture and flavor to your snacks. Guacamole serves as a source of several essential nutrients that benefit your health. However, it also packs a hefty caloric punch — a cup of guacamole can contain almost 400 calories. Eat the food in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Guacamole makes for a nutritious topping for sliced cucumbers, red peppers or other vegetables.
That’s right, leftovers. Have a little bit of that roasted chicken and veggies from the night before. You can keep it from being a boring repeat by chopping things up and adding some fresh veggies and salsa.
Snacking doesn’t have to ruin your fitness and weight loss goals. In fact, choosing the right kinds of nutrient-rich snacks can actually promote your health while ensuring that you don’t unravel your progress the moment you feel hungry. The snacks above prove that you can have the freedom to graze while feeling—and staying—fit.