Posts tagged ‘healthy snacks’

June 3, 2013

Bedtime Snack

This could be you!

This could be you!

Good morning, friends! It’s Brooke, here. I know a bedtime snack is probably the last thing you’re thinking of right now, but sooner or later, the idea of a little nighttime nibble will cross your mind. And when it does, will you be prepared? A bedtime snack need not completely dismantle your whole day’s progress up to this point. In fact, you can harness the power of food for good and not evil—just choose wisely! Here are some tips to avoiding a complete meltdown in front of your open fridge.

fridge

 

1. Keep your snack light (under 200 calories): As you prepare for sleep, the last thing you need is something heavy sitting in your stomach. You want a snack that is small and easily digestible, that will usher you into dreamland. A cup of warm, fragrant herbal tea is a low-calorie way to help you relax and take the edge off of a late-night craving. If you’re like me, however, you may want something a bit more substantial to nibble on.

2. Include a complex carbohydrate and a low-fat protein: You’ve always heard that a cup of warm milk before bed helps you sleep, right? Turns out, it’s true! Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid notoriously associated with turkey dinners and post-dinner naps. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that figures largely in the body’s ability to relax, regulate mood, and maintain a sleep cycle. All animal proteins contain varying amounts of tryptophan (turkey, chicken, seafood, eggs, animal milk, cheese, and yogurt), as do nuts, seeds, and legumes. Complex carbs, such as whole-grain bread or oats, help your body digest tryptophan more effectively. So, when you are choosing your snack, think complex carb (or maybe a simple carb, such as fruit) + low-fat protein. Some great snacks include:

  • Whole-grain cereal with milk
  • 1 c. yogurt topped with granola, berries, and/or fruit
  • Almond butter sandwich
  • Small apple or whole grain crackers with almond butter
  • 1 graham cracker sheet with milk
  • Small bunch of grapes with 1 oz. cheese
  • Handful of pistachios or pumpkin seeds with ¼ cantaloupe

weights

3. Eat a more substantial snack if you are building lean muscle: The nighttime snack is almost a given if you are on a muscle-building mission. As you know, if you are trying to sculpt sexy muscle, eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day is essential, and this snack may be part of your plan. The time between dinner and breakfast is a long time to go without nutrition, so this snack is an excellent way to promote anabolism, or the building of muscle tissue, while you sleep. Bodybuilders need to add more protein to their snack than the amount shown in the examples above. Lean protein like eggs, yogurt, milk, and protein powder are great additions. Research has shown that casein protein is even more effective than whey protein in providing slow-digesting nutrition as you sleep. Casein protein can be found in animal milk, cottage cheese, or in powder form. Here are several good options for you if you are interested in building lean muscle:

  • 1 cup cottage cheese with 2 sliced strawberries
  • Protein shake with milk
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies
  • Oatmeal with protein powder added

4. Avoid snacks that are spicy, sugary, and caffeinated: This advice seems pretty obvious, but we’ll run through it anyway. Hot and spicy foods can contribute to heartburn and reflux, which does not make for peaceful rest. If your bedtime snack is high in sugar, your blood sugar levels will be affected, which will also make catching those ZZZs a challenge. And if your snack of choice is hot tea, be sure it’s herbal (such as peppermint or chamomile) and not just decaffeinated black tea—there’s always a bit of caffeine lingering in those leaves, even those marked decaf.

Happiness!! (or My Favorite Yogurt Snack)

Here’s my favorite way to fix yogurt—this makes an excellent pre-workout snack, provided I’ve eaten enough complex carbs throughout the day, but as a bedtime snack, it’s wonderful! It always makes me feel full, relaxed, and happy.

  • 1 c. low-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese
  • Small mix of berries (sliced strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
  • About 10 raw almonds or 5-7 walnut halves
  • 1 packet Truvia (stevia) for sweetness

Mix everything together in a bowl, and enjoy.

Yum!

Yum!

Friends, have a wonderful week, and happy (healthy) bedtime snacking!

Brooke

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May 24, 2013

Get bikini ready the healthy way

I took the hard road but years later I have finally learned how to get bikini ready the healthy way.

I took the hard road but years later I have finally learned how to get bikini ready the healthy way.

We all want to look and feel our best this summer. I know that many people still think that by skipping meals, you are doing a good thing. It’s always a hard concept to grasp that eating more and more often can actually help you lose weight. Only eating lunch all day is not a good thing.  I think that’s just unfortunately a mentality many of us women have had since our youth.  We often equate no eating to weight loss.  Yes, of course you can lose weight if you don’t eat, but you feel terrible and you’re not setting yourself up for success long term. Trust me I know this all too well, I had an eating disorder in college.

I was a National Champion track and field athlete at LSU and the pressures to have my body a certain way for competition were fierce. If you weren’t performing as well as you were expected to, losing weight was usually one of the first things that was said needed to change.  For example, “she’s not running fast enough I think she needs to drop some weight”.  Problem is that when you’re training and competing at such a high level, you are hungry non-stop and your body needs so much fuel.   I would of course try not to eat much, which in turn would typically set me up for a binging episode later on that day.  I used to have four hour workouts in the middle of the day, and was being to only eat a couple of fruits for lunch, to try and help me drop the pounds.  I look back now and wonder how I allowed myself to take that direction seriously.  During our extensive warm-up routine one day I was doing walk over hurdle drills and can vividly remember having to stop because I was having such bad hunger pains. When I expressed out loud why I stopped, I was told that it was normal and that my stomach was just shrinking and that it would eventually go away when my body would got used to it.  WHAT?  Why did I actually try to do this? This is when my unhealthy relationship with food started.  I was trying so hard not to eat that all I could think about was food. I am that person who never gives up to a fault and I tried that mentality even with my “not-eating”.  I wanted so badly to excel at the highest level and any direction I was given I took to heart and tried to 100% implement. However, even at that time I couldn’t stop myself from my binging ways. I was hungry and my body screaming for energy.  Therefore this started an unhealthy bulimic struggle for me, which I did a lot of work on then to overcome. The beauty of going through something like that is taught me some valuable lessons and since learned so much that I don’t struggle with that disorder anymore.  I also learned the right ways to keep my body healthy and looking/feeling its best. Am I sometimes still guilty of mindlessly eating? Yes. However, when I find myself getting in that emotional-eating place, I work really hard to stay present while eating; instead of trying to solve my emotions while binging on comfort foods.  In case you have never experienced it, eating basically a whole tub of ice cream does not make you feel better.

With all that being said I understand, all too well, the pressures of trying to obtain the ideal body and how the pressures of trying to do so can often times can create us to have unhealthy relationships with food. Bulimia didn’t do anything except for make me look bloated and feel terrible. I also saw first hand how not eating enough caused me to lose that precious muscle that I had worked so hard to build.  I needed my muscle to compete my best.  Even if you’re not a hard core athlete, muscle not only makes your body look healthier and pretty, but also the more muscle you have the more your metabolism increases.  I could talk about this subject for hours. However, to get back to the main reason I started this blog; in order to lose weight, you need to snack regularly to keep your metabolism up.  I’m not talking about any snack but healthy snacks. My go-to’s used to basically consist of a protein shake or almonds, and occasionally fruit. Marzia has a helped me to really expand my snack options, along with my own research and experimenting.Remember that in order to keep the muscle you’re working to gain, it is important to combine a lean protein with a clean carb together at each meal.

I often get asked what some good, quick snack options are and here are some of my favorites. I am on the go a lot because I am in sales, so I pack my snack in the morning and then keep in my car.  With my protein shake I will put the powder separated out in one of those kid snack containers. The one I use is perfect for carrying the protein powder. It has three compartments and an opening that makes it easy to pour out the powder. I am a picky eater so keep that in mind as you read my top five favorites options:

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  1. A piece of fruit and a kind bar
  2. Green drink (my juicing mix of fruit and veggies) and almonds
  3. Almond butter (I like Justin’s and it comes in travel packs) with celery or apple slices
  4. Whey protein shake and a handful of almonds
  5. Turkey slices (not packaged of course) and carrots (or any veggie)

Looking at different snack options always helps give me ideas that I then tweak and make my own.  I hope you enjoy a great, long holiday weekend.  Remember that planning ahead so you don’t skip meals is key.

Loren Silas