By: Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ACT/L
Regular snacking is vital to a healthy and active lifestyle. Fitness-friendly snacks should be quick, delicious, and balanced to satisfy your exercise and nutrition needs (as well as your hectic schedule). Active women should aim for snacks in the 100- to 200-calorie range (active men may need a bit more) and keep in mind, you may need to eat up to two snacks a day between meals to keep your energy levels steady all day long.
Fresh fruit provides carbohydrates for quick energy. Pineapple, orange, and kiwi fruit are packed with vitamin C, a powerful nutrient for joints and connective tissue that also boasts antioxidant properties. Yogurt and almonds add protein and healthy fat to make this fruit salad super satisfying. Enjoy for a mid-day snack a few hours before your afternoon workout.
Hummus delivers a winning combo of protein and healthy fat from beans and tahini (ground sesame seeds). Chickpeas are full of fiber, iron, and many B vitamins, including folate for proper cell formation. Make a large batch of hummus early in the week and enjoy with nutrient-rich fresh veggies or fiber-filled whole grain pita chips for dipping.
These quick-and-easy muffins make a guilt-free sweet treat. Peanut butter replaces some of the regular butter for a muffin with more heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Peanut butter gives you long-lasting energy to sustain a gym workout or yoga class. Make a batch and freeze them. Grab one from the freezer in the morning and it will defrost in time for an afternoon snack.
A simple salad makes a perfect mini-meal. Green beans are low in calories (1 cup contains only 35) and navy beans are a good source of magnesium for muscle building and bone health. Vitamins C and A from fresh vegetables and a sprinkle of calcium-rich cheese add up to a tasty and nutritious snack that won’t leave you searching for the nearest vending machine.
One 72-calorie egg contains just 1.6 grams of saturated fat and a multitude of nutrients: vitamins A and B12, and the antioxidant lutein, which nourishes the eyes and skin. Many of these nutrients are found in the egg yolk, so eat both yolks and whites to take advantage of all the health benefits. Eggs got a bad rap for relatively high cholesterol levels, but new research shows they can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. In this recipe, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and herbs add tons of flavor without many extra calories.
Why spend extra money on packaged snack mixes when you can make your own? This mix of cereal, pretzels, crackers, and spices is chock full of energy-boosting carbohydrates. Experiment with different spices to create your own signature flavors. Have a few handfuls along with a piece of fruit before a workout, or pair up with a protein-rich string cheese after a workout.
This light and fresh tomato soup can be enjoyed hot or cold for a delicious and hydrating snack. All fluids contribute to hydration―even soup! Tomatoes are a very good source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium, an electrolyte founds in many sports drinks because it helps your body maintain correct fluid balance and aids in preventing muscle cramps. Cooked tomatoes contain especially high levels of the antioxidant lycopene.