Everything in this world can be rated by quality. This includes fuels: some burn efficiently and are considered high performance fuels while others come up a little short. The same holds true for the fuel for our biological machines. Not all food is created equal and our bodies burn high quality food differently than its lower quality versions.
For instance, there’s been a lot of hype about the glycemic index of foods and the GI diet. Basically, the GI ranks carbohydrate-containing foods and measures their effects on the body’s blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI (or sugar content) get digested and metabolized faster by the body.
Protein, on the other hand, tends to be a high performance fuel. It takes longer for the body to process it and so it also satisfies our hunger long after consuming it. So comparably, carbohydrates are a low-grade fuel used for immediate energy sources.
Snacks that last, then, combine a protein with a healthy carbohydrate. The body burns the glucose from the carbohydrate first and then tackles the protein, making your snack last longer. Actually, studies show that protein lowers the GI in carbohydrates (source: SparkPeople.com’s Glitch in the Glycemic Index).
Here are a few tasty, healthy and relatively fast and easy snacks that last:
- Apple & cheddar cheese (my fav is granny smith with aged cheese)
- Apple & peanut butter
- Hummus & whole wheat pita
- Cheese & crackers – look for crackers with the most ingredients that you can pronounce.
- Cottage cheese & fresh fruit (like banana, apple, blueberries, strawberries)
- Yogurt & granola – try to choose kinds with the least amount of sugar that you still find yummy.
- Sardines & buttered bread – don’t turn up your nose until you’ve tried it!
- Tuna, olive oil, chopped onions and tomatoes & crackers – thanks to my good friend Chris for introducing this scrumptious snack to the list. 🙂
- Dried fruit & nuts (cranberries & almonds, apricots & pecans, etc.) – try to pick up raw nuts rather than those treated with salt and dry roasting.
- Try adding a few dark chocolate chips to your dried fruit &nut combos for extra health benefits and of course, yumminess.
While these snack suggestions are all healthy (the more natural ingredients, the healthier), increasing your protein intake may be a double-edged sword. The long satiety level of protein is the number one reason why protein helps in weight-loss.
But protein sources tend to also be high in fat and calories. This presents problems for people trying to lose weight. If you’re playing the “burn more calories than you consume” game, then choose protein sources with low in fat versions, lean meats or eat less.
What are your snacks that last suggestions?