Justine SanFilippo—Everybody is busy these days, and it seems when we get really busy, it’s easy to grab unhealthy foods or even to forget to eat.
Between work or school or taking care of the kids, sometimes our health is the last thing on our minds. Suddenly our stomach starts growling and talking to us, and then it’s very easy for us to reach for an unhealthy snack options, like chips or candy or fast food.
One way to figure out if incorporating healthy snacks into your day is best for you is to pay attention to how you feel at mealtimes. Do you skip breakfast? Are you completely starving by lunch? Do you want to eat everything in the fridge by dinner? Do you find yourself having cravings for sweets late at night and sneaking into the freezer for a pint of ice cream?
One of the best ways to keep your metabolism boosted throughout the day and to keep your blood sugar stable is to eat a little something every three hours. After the three-hour mark, the body starts to go into “fasting mode” or “starvation mode” and it thinks that perhaps there is no more food left in the world.
Not only that, but our blood sugar crashes, which is why cravings for sweets and simple carbs occur—the body is looking for quick energy. By waiting too long between meals, oftentimes you’ll end up feeling very, very hungry, and you’re more likely to grab anything in sight.
The best way to keep your metabolism humming along all day is to have healthy snacks handy that are full of protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. This combination will also ensure that your blood sugar stays stable because these macronutrients are broken down slowly in the body.
Here are 10 quick and easy healthy snack ideas to keep your metabolism boosted. Keep them in your purse, at work or in the car for easy access.
1. Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries (or any berries)—Greek yogurt is full of protein with 14 grams per serving. It also contains probiotics, which are good for gut health. Add your favorite berries and you get a low-glycemic carb with fiber and antioxidants. You can also use plain goat or sheep yogurt if you want to try a different option.
2. One-half or one full avocado—Avocado is high in heart-healthy fats called monounsaturated fats. Avocados also contain fiber, potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid. Enjoy a piece of fruit with the avocado because the avocado will help absorb the vitamins and nutrients of the fruit as well.
3. One tablespoon almond butter on a piece of sprouted toast, like Ezekial bread—Almond butter is high in omega-3s, healthy fats and protein, and the sprouted bread adds protein, fiber and complex carbs as well. You can find this bread in the freezer section at the grocery store.
4. Two hard-boiled eggs—This is a very easy and portable snack and can be prepared the night before. Choose pasture-raised or organic eggs. Eggs are high in protein, low in calories, and contain 11 essential vitamins including biotin, which helps cell metabolism. Add an apple for some fiber and healthy carbs.
5. One serving unsalted nuts, like almonds or walnuts—Nuts are portable and very healthy for you. They contain healthy fats and protein. The main thing to watch out for is the portion. One serving of almonds is about 23 nuts and one serving of walnuts is 12 to 14 walnut halves, or 1/4 cup. You can also choose pistachios, macadamia nuts or cashews. Just choose the unsalted variety and pay attention to portions.
6. Veggies with hummus—Choose your favorite raw veggies with one to two servings of hummus. Hummus offers protein and fiber since it is made of crushed chickpeas. The veggies offer healthy carbs and that crunch to make this snack satisfying.
7. Nut butter with celery— Have one or two tablespoons of natural peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter spread on sliced celery. This is a snack even kids would love.
8. One string cheese with a piece of fruit—Try one serving of goat cheese if you are milk-sensitive. Choose your favorite fruit, especially those that are in season because they taste better, are more budget-friendly and are full of vitamins.
9. Low-sodium turkey wrapped around bell pepper slices—This is a delicious snack full of protein and vitamin C from the bell peppers, which is an antioxidant. Yellow, orange and red bell peppers are highest in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps produce carnitine, which helps boost the metabolism because carnitine helps our muscles use more fat for energy. When choosing the turkey, opt for unsalted or very low-sodium kinds and choose a brand that contains no added hormones or antibiotics. Add some hummus to this super-satisfying snack for some added fiber and protein.
10. Whey protein shake or smoothie—This is one of the easiest snacks because you just put some ingredients in a blender, mix it and you’re done. It’s great for on-the-go. When choosing a protein powder, opt for a whey protein that is low in lactose, has no added sugar and contains no artificial sweeteners. Whey protein is also the most bioavailable, which means the body absorbs it quickly. It also improves satiety and contains an amino acid called leucine, which is great for building muscle and lean tissue, which boosts the metabolism.
My favorite brand is Muscle Foods Labs Chocolate because it is sweetened with stevia, has no gluten or sugar and has 30 grams of protein in one scoop. Use one to two scoops of protein powder, some almond milk, one tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter, half of a banana, maybe some chia seeds for some additional omega-3s, add ice, blend and enjoy!
Justine San Filippo is a certified health coach, nutritionist and ACE certified personal trainer. She’s the author of “Lose Your Inches Without Losing Your Mind!” and loves to teach others about health, wellness and nutrition.