We've all been there: Lunch was 2 hours ago. It's 3.30 pm, you've been working since 7am and your energy levels are on the floor. You venture to the coffee machine, and if you have half a conscience, you offer to get your colleagues a coffee too. At the drinks machine you have 6 drinks to collect. Your mind is strong and although the snickers in the vending machine is talking to you, you are strong!
After the 5th drink has vended your inner voice says "have the Snickers, it'll tie you over till tea time'. -So you do! Later, that evening, after dinner you begin to feel bad about your indulgence and weakness. Your inner voice is now saying- go on, you fu*ked up earlier so eat what you like. You can try again tomorrow!.
At the root of the problem here, is a dip in blood sugar and no plan. In this blog, I will look at how to prevent this happening.
Whats happening with blood sugar levels?
On a very basic level, low blood sugar levels means low energy. Blood sugar will peak after meal and drop between meals.
Low blood sugar has an array of symptoms:
-Heightened emotional state
The symptoms above will result in a moment of weakness at the vending machine.
What to do?
Work out your calorie requirements, according to your aspiration:
1. Calorie deficit (weight loss)
2. Maintenance (remain the same weight)
3. Calorie surplus (Weight gain).
Use the following link to calculate this: flexible diet.co.uk
For example: A female: Age 55: Height 5ft: Sedentary lifestyle: Weighs 144lbs: Goal weight loss: Calories required to lose weight 1300kcals (using the calculator above creates the deficit).
Split these calories:
300 kcal breakfast
200 kcals snacks (split am and pm)
1300 TOTAL calories consumed per day
Purpose of snacking:
The reason for snacking is to prevent the symptoms above, the drops in blood sugar. To allow us to have the energy for life/ work/ parenthood etc.I like to think of snacking as a punctuation in the day to give me energy. A pit stop or a bridge to the next meal.
Snacking helps my clients and I avoid high sugar and over processed foods. Snacking well helps to avoid the guilt emotions, attached to these foods too!
Snack on what?
Food! Foods fit into 3 categories from a nutrient perspective:
Carbohydrate 4 Kcals per g: The ideal carbohydrates are near to their raw state and include fibre. Compared to protein and fat, carbohydrate is the easiest food for your body to convert to energy.
Fibre in carbs help to slow down digestion, this increases satisfaction. It also helps to release energy over time. The most valuable carbohydrates are fruits and vegetables: 4 Kcals per g
Protein: 4 Kcals per g: Snack containing protein, challenge the body to raise it's temperature to digest them. Called thermogenesis, this process takes time and increases satisfaction. Metabolising protein is a complex process for your body, also which requires energy.
Fat: 9 Kcals per g Fats are an important part of the diet too. A large part of a diet can be fat, be aware that as these foods contain twice the energy of protein and carbohydrate.
A nutritious, healthy snack includes a small amount of protein or fat for satiety and slower conversion to energy. Add to this an unprocessed Carbohydrate (fruit or vegetable). These are high volume low energy foods.
This is approach is the HIGH/ LOW snacking.
Using the calorie needs for our example client a snack could be 3 long lengths of celery and 2 tsp of peanut butter (no added salt or sugar)= 95 kcals This example is also a winner as it is quick, easy and doesn't need a fridge for safe storage-I call this a triple win!
To calculate the calories in my food I use: https://cronometer.com
Combining macro nutrients as above helps with satiety, so you are less likely to eat in a reactive way. Planning snacks is key, so that when you are tempted to stray you have a nutritious alternative to hand. Use the basic snack builder here, to twin macro nutrients which you enjoy- Keep an eye on portions and ensure that the volume of snack eaten is in line with your calorie requirements and goal: Weight loss, maintenance or gain.
The list is for inspiration purposes- other snacks, do exist!