As an athlete, we understand that you are often on-the-go and remarkably busy, running from the gym, to practice, and then back again. And not to mention your personal responsibilities as well. We know that with such a busy schedule, it can sometimes be hard to prioritize your nutrition. However, it’s very important that you pay attention to your dietary habits, especially in between what are considered the “standard” daily meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Nutrition plays a huge role, not only in body composition and aesthetics, but also in performance. Playing a sport can be extremely demanding on the body, especially when training and exercising for several hours every day. A balanced diet that includes frequent healthy snacks will help you to perform at your best.
But how do you make such adjustments when you must factor in your work, practices, gym time, plus your family, friends, community and other obligations that demand your time? How is it possible for you to maintain a healthy diet when you simply do not have enough time to cook a nutritious meal?
This is when you can rely on the concept of healthy snacking which will help you to meet your daily calorie requirements, maintain your energy levels, and can act as pre- and post- training fuel. To attain the goal of improving your performance and athletic ability, here are six key considerations regarding healthy snacking:
Consider the 40/40/20 rule
When considering which macronutrients to include in your snack, think about this rule, which means that your daily calorie intake should be comprised of 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat. Carbs are your primary energy source, which is why they are especially important for athletes who need all the energy they can get to complete their training routines. Protein is the building block of our muscles, organs, bones, and more. And fat is a healthy and necessary part of our diet, that is often given a bad wrap. However, it is essential for proper bodily functions.
Not all protein is equal
Many protein products on the market position themselves as saturated with healthy ingredients from which you’ll derive substantial benefits, but this is not always the case. The biggest concern is whether the product contains high-quality protein with a high Biological Value (BV). Bars or powders comprised of soy protein or milk concentrate are at the low end of the scale. Egg albumen is moderately superior, and the king of all proteins is whey isolate with the highest BV. Whey is also very efficient at being absorbed and broken down into amino acids which re-build and grow your muscles. Check out Bodylogix® Natural Isolate for 25 g of high-quality protein per scoop.
Watch the sugar content
Many pre-made and packaged snacks are filled to the brim with added sugar. These unnecessarily high amounts of sugar are not good for your body. If you are buying pre-packaged snacks, ensure you are checking the nutrition facts on the label and keeping an eye on the sugar content. There are of course exceptions to this rule, such as for an athlete that requires immediate, high, short-term energy. But as a general practice, keep your sugar intake relatively low.
Get your nutrients
As important as your macronutrients are, they are not the end all be all. You must also ensure you are consuming enough micronutrients. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals which are crucial for proper functioning of the body. To ensure you are getting all the micronutrients that your body requires, you will need more than a post-workout protein shake.Try adding additional fruit or veggies and make a healthy protein smoothie to get the nutrients your body needs.
Fibre is your friend
A few manufacturers, who are aware of the dietary benefits of fibre, began including amounts like 10 to 15 grams of fibre in their bars and powders. This means you’ll reach satiety quicker and you’ll stave off hunger longer. It also means that your intestines will have a means to keep digested food flowing quicker and ultimately keep you regular. If your system is clogged up, you’ll not only carry more matter inside, but you’ll retain water like crazy.
Not all snacks are packaged
As active consumers, we tend to think of snacks as foods wrapped up in convenient packages like protein bars, granola bars, rice cakes or protein chips, etc. But don’t forget you have a full spectrum of fruits and vegetables available too. Fruits may not provide a high amount of protein, but they do contain a lot of antioxidants and fibre, both of which are very important to your overall health. They also prevent you from dipping into a bag full of sugar-laden processed junk food. Vegetables are arguably even more filling than fruit and provide a similar array of nutritional benefits. Both fruits and vegetables can be prepared in seconds for convenient consumption while you’re on the go.