Sunday, September 30, 2012

Healthy Snacking

On this slightly rainy weekend that has me between races and major training events, the idea of writing about healthy snacking options came out of a conversation with a friend.

I work primarily in an office environment, with the occasional option to be out of the office. These situations offer ample opportunity to indulge myself during between meal periods, and that is something that I have long fought to control. For much of the recent year I have felt more successful than not at healthy snacking. I don't like to go more than a couple hours between meals or snacks as I feel like doing so puts me at a greater risk of overeating at the next meal. During heavy training cycles, I may need to eat almost every hour just to consume enough healthy calories to keep my body properly fueled. I know it might seem difficult for some to accept, but when you're burning an average of 2,000 calories on your "regular" training days you need to eat at least 4,000 calories to maintain your body's needs. It can be really hard to eat that many calories when you commit to eating a healthy diet.

As to my specific strategy, it really is very simple. I make sure that I provide myself an opportunity to be near a healthy snack option as much as possible. My desk drawer will keep a stock of healthy options available. These may include small amounts of nuts, mini CLIF Bars, microwave popcorn, protein powder mix, and so on. In my refrigerator at work, I keep apples (I like them cold.), almond milk (low calories and mixes well with protein mixes.) for snacks. I also will keep salad mix, including fresh spinach and/or arugula, plush a low calorie dressing for many lunches. After this as a base, I need only keep some chicken breast in the freezer, or bring something from home to add to the salad mix for a good meal.

My current protein powder of choice is the Vega One and Vega Sport line of products, which I also use for some of my racing electrolyte and caloric needs.The Vega One provides a good mix as a base supplement as part of my diet. The Performance Protein provides a healthy source of an extra protein supplementation during my heavier workout days.

During the past year, I have become more conscious of the importance of my diet as part of my attempt to live an overall healthy lifestyle. I'm far from perfect, and still enjoy the occasional ice cream, cupcake or similar unhealthy treat, but this is a true treat and no longer the rule of my snacking options. For the first time in more years than I can remember, I have kept a relatively stable weight all year. Other than for short periods related to my activity levels, I have spent most of the year between 175 - 179 pounds, which is something I never thought possible a few years ago.

I'd be happy to answer any questions asked by blog readers and would love to read your own ideas on the subject of healthy snacking by posting as a comment to this blog post.



K said...

Excellent post, Richard! I find I need to snack often in order to fuel myself. I often "forget" to eat things like breakfast and then get busy and forget to eat lunch. By dinner I'm very behind on calories and feel pretty bad. Since most of my workouts happen well before dinner time, this can be problematic.
Having easy to eat, healthy snack foods is a great way to be certain we take in something small consistently rather than three large meals. I also find when I am deep into a training cycle, my appetite disappears. I really do have to force myself to eat in the morning. I like to keep yogurt with a gluten-free granola that I can mix in, rice cakes spread with almond or peanut butter. Tuna is a great quick protein boost as well.
I use many of the same snacks you do as well.
I will admit, making sure I eat enough is often more difficult than getting the workouts in. I am a work in progress!

Rae! said...

I like the Vega products too. I find them much easier to digest.
I went back to juicing too. I have some recipes for inflammation.Tasty and finding that I want to snack less on sweets. Like you it has become a treat instead of I have to have it.
Love your writing.