Lesson 2: Snacking With a Purpose, or Not

As far as nutrition is concerned, we've covered macros and micros, vitamins and minerals, and eating the rainbow. Next, we are going to explore the concept of snacking. In this lesson, you will learn the importance of snacking, when and why you should snack, and how to build a snack that incorporates your favorite foods, while keeping you satisfied longer.

Snacking seems to have developed into a negative connotation in our society. It’s often looked at as something to cut back on or try to manage. What if we changed the way we thought about snacking? There are two more common scenarios in which snacking might take place:

  1. It can be used as a way to resolve a craving.
  2. It can be used as a way to fuel our body.

Resolving a Craving

What are cravings?

  • Cravings are our bodies way of telling us what we need. It’s important to listen!
  • I’m sure you’ve had some sort of craving before whether that’s for sugar, your daily Starbucks for caffeine, or a burger and fries. We all experience cravings, and the majority of the time we’re taught to fight the craving in order to be disciplined.
  • What if we looked at cravings as something to be curious about instead of something to be shameful of?
    • Cravings don’t mean you don’t have willpower, it simply means there’s something your body is trying to tell you.
    • Our bodies are meant to function at 100% and your body has the capability to tell you what to do and what you need through some of these cravings.

Why should we listen?

  • If our body needs protein, carbs, or fat, it's going to tell you to eat those foods; however, the trick is that our bodies often have created substitutes for these macros within our diet.
    • For example:
      • a craving for sugar or caffeine may be from a lack of protein
      • a craving for sugar may also come from a lack of carbs
      • a craving for something like ice cream may be a lack of fat within the diet
      • feeling excessively hungry may come from not being fully satisfied after a meal which would also come from a lack of fat or carbs

What does it mean to be satisfied?

  • The key to any meal or snack is to feel satisfied when done eating.
  • While this is all true information, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a time and place for caffeine, sugar, ice cream, or just munching on some chips.
    • Sometimes satisfied means giving the body the nutrients it wants, and sometimes being satisfied means having ice cream with your friends.
  • The key is finding the balance between these things, but it’s not easy, and sometimes you fail, but listening to your body and meeting its needs is an extremely important skill to develop.

Fueling Our Body

When do you use each macronutrient to aid in recovery or performance?

  • When to use protein as a snack:
    • As a snack, protein is valuable after a training session to replenish or when you need help staying fuller longer. If you are going for a longer period of time where you won’t have access to food, it would be beneficial to have a snack with protein in it.
  • When to use carbs as a snack:
    • Carbs are a great quick energy source.
    • Simple carbs are a great pre-training or game time snack.
    • Complex carbs are a great post-training or game time snack as a way to replenish our depleted resources.
  • When to use fat as a snack:
    • Fats typically take longer to digest so they are a great thing to incorporate into a snack when you want to feel fuller longer.

Snacking Steps - Things to Consider

  1. Timing of snack
  2. How long do you need to stay full for?
  3. What’s going to be satisfying and fulfilling?
  4. Build your snack
    • Choose 1-3 macros depending on the above questions
    • Incorporate some of your favorite foods or mix in something new
  5. Slow down and enjoy

Applied to Athletics

As an athlete, it’s important to remember that the way we eat is different than the way our teammates eat but can look very different than the way friends eat who don’t play sports or aren’t active.

  • This isn’t wrong
  • What you’re asking your body to do requires energy from food to do it.

While snacks are not necessary, they are a tool to incorporate foods throughout the day to keep you fueled and sustained.