Summer is arguably one of the most on-the-go seasons of the year, with an endless amount of outdoor adventures and activities to enjoy. But that also means you may need to plan for more quick-and-easy snacks and energy bites that can be thrown in your bag for that impromptu beach day or afternoon hike.
While there are countless opinions when it comes to snacking (and how much is too much, really), it’s best to focus on choosing balanced snacks that will keep you full and satisfied, and trust your body to know how often you need a snack. Most likely, depending on the day or week, your body’s needs and cravings will change and that is 100 percent okay!
1. Avoid the 5pm Crash
Despite varying opinions, almost everyone can benefit from having some type of pre-dinner/late-afternoon snack to avoid reaching dinnertime in a state of ravenous hunger. Oftentimes, the span between lunch and dinner is the longest period people go without eating, which is why having a balanced on-the-go snack handy for when that late-afternoon crash starts to hit can come in really handy.
Packing a balanced snack for your commute home or as pre-workout fuel will prevent you from making unhealthy choices or overeating later, and help sustain your energy (and mood) throughout the rest of the day.
2. Find the Perfect Nutritional Balance
The point of having a snack is to help maintain your energy levels, keep hunger in check and balance blood sugar levels, which is the exact opposite of what will happen if your snacks are full of processed grains and refined sugars. It’s important to know what to look for in a balanced snack so that you can avoid the dreaded blood sugar dip or ravenous hunger later.
The next time you’re choosing a snack, make sure to look for a combination of the following nutrients that will help you stay energized and satisfied all day long:
- Fat: Fat is an essential macronutrient that helps increase satiety, meaning you’ll feel fuller, longer. So, if you find yourself always feeling hungry within 30 minutes of having a snack, chances are you need to add more fat.
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are critical sources of energy for your body and they’re especially important if you’re heading off to do something active. Carbohydrates can be found in vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes, and are best consumed in their whole form. Opt for whole grains or whole fruits and veggies over processed or refined grains and sugars.
- Protein: Protein is another macronutrient that helps balance how quickly carbohydrates rush into your bloodstream, which, in turn, helps ensure a steady stream of energy. Protein also helps you feel fuller, longer and is an especially smart option after a workout to help repair and build muscle.
- Fiber: Fiber is found in plant-based foods like chia seeds, vegetables, beans, grains and dried fruit, and is the material that can’t be fully broken down by the body. Technically, fiber doesn’t contain any nutritional value, but it is essential for keeping your blood sugar balanced and improving digestion, and is a key component in improving satiety.
3. Prep Ahead to Grab and Go
There are a variety of options to choose from when it comes to convenient snacks, including anything from pre-packaged snacks that are already made to homemade options that you can prep ahead of time. Whatever you decide works best for you, it’s important to make sure that your snacks are made from whole, nutrient-dense ingredients that will support your body’s needs all day long.
To help you get started, here are a few of our favorite options for balanced, on-the-go snacking:
With these snacks ready to grab on-the-go, you will have everything you need to feel your best, no matter where the busy summer days take you. What else do you like to pack to make your summer adventures the best they can be? Tell us in comments!
Author Bio: Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN is an experienced global health and sustainability advocate and creative entrepreneur specializing in social impact communications strategy and content development. Prior to founding The Well Essentials, Megan worked in global health nutrition and water security programming both internationally and domestically. Megan holds a Master of Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine and a Master of Science from Tufts University School of Nutrition. She also is a Registered Dietitian and completed her dietetic training at Brigham and Women's Harvard Teaching Hospital.