Snacking is defined as “a light, quick meal between main meals” and normally occurs spontaneously when we feel hungry. Nonetheless, however spontaneous your snacking is, you need to add an element of planning to it, to ensure that what you are snacking on is contributing to your training and goals. If your goal is muscle growth, a protein snack may be more beneficial to provide the muscles with amino acids to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, the process of muscle repair and growth. Whereas, if you are an endurance athlete and are recovering or preparing for a training session, a carbohydrate snack may be beneficial to replenish your muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) stores.
- Snack according to hunger.
- Choose foods according to your goals.
- If you are training early, a snack (such as a fruit smoothie) may be more practical than a large breakfast.
- Snack immediately after exercise if your next meal isn’t for a couple of hours, as this will allow recovery to occur straight away.
- Plan snacks while travelling to avoid unhealthy food options.
- Snacking before bed will provide nutrients for recovery to occur over-night.
Protein containing snacks are useful for muscle repair and growth, as well as assisting weight loss via a satiating effect (make you feel fuller for longer). Protein snacks include: nuts, seeds, yoghurt, milk, eggs, cottage cheese, beef jerky, nut butter, edamame, smoked salmon, protein shakes and bars.
Carbohydrate containing snack are useful for fueling training sessions through replenishing muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrate) stores, and maintaining blood glucose (sugar) levels. Carbohydrate snacks include fruit, fruit smoothie, dried fruit, cereal bars, flapjacks, mixed vegetables, cous cous and butternut squash, and fruit juice.
About the Author
Mark Funnell holds a BSc (Honours) degree in Sport and Exercise Science and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Nutrition from Loughborough University. He is currently working as a Performance Nutritionist for the England and Wales Cricket Board with both the England Women’s Academy and Midlands Regional Disability Cricket squads. Additionally, Mark is a graduate member of the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr), an ISAK Level 1 Anthropometrist and a UK Anti-Doping advisor.