What to Eat Between Meals! - More or Less Calories?
For people with a very active lifestyle their daily calorie intake needs to match the amount of exercise their doing! In a lot of cases this isn't practical, or even achievable, from only 3 meals a day.
In come the snacks!
Snacks are a flexible and easy way to top up your nutrition intake but not all snacks are created equal. You should take the same care over the content and quality of your snacks that you do with your meals!
Choosing your snacks and when to have them depends on both your larger goals and your more immediate exercise plans.
Snacking for More Calories!
The most straight forward benefit to snacking on top of your meals is raising your daily calorific intake.
If your meals are providing you with 3000 calories but you are burning 3,500 from your training then you're body needs that extra 500 or it will start burning your body's emergency fuel instead. This will first be from your fat stores but will also involve breaking down your muscle, the last thing anyone wants!
For snacks aimed at hitting a large calorie target the best content is complex carbs. Wholefood snacks such as wheat or oat based bars are ideal. Slower releasing carbs are more effective at keeping your blood sugar more level and consistent. This means if you are exercising later on then the energy from the snack will still be available to you, and won't have already been converted to fat.
Try to avoid snacks which are high in simple or processed sugars such as chocolate or doughnuts (sad, I know). Simple sugars will be broken down more quickly causing a spike in your blood sugar. If you are not using this energy up straight away then your body will convert it to fat, leading to weight gain and also making the energy harder to access for exercise.
For maximum calorie uptake, complex carb snacks should be spaced evenly between meals. The body can only digest a limited amount of carbohydrate at a time! Snacks eaten directly after a large meal will be wasted as the body will be unable to make maximum use of them.
Snacking for Less Calories?!
Although it might seem backwards, snacking can really help limit your daily calorie intake as well!
For people looking to lose weight, their arch-enemy is usually their appetite. A small healthy snack just as you start reaching for the biscuits can control your urges and help you go the distance between meals more easily.
When snacking for appetite control, the nutritional content makes all the difference!
Again, a sugary snack is more likely to be turned to fat if you don't burn it off immediately. Sugary food will also drop your blood sugar just as fast as it rises, making you reach for more, so you should still avoid these where possible.
Things to look for are high protein and high fibre snacks. These tend to be lower calorie and also are much more filling so you can eat them less frequently. Great examples are Nuts! Nuts of any kind are high in protein and natural fat.
Timing is even more important for these as if you are eating low calorie meals you are likely to be hungry earlier. If you go for your last protein bar straight after breakfast then you will have nothing to keep you going until lunch, making the crisps cupboard look even more inviting.
Your snacking schedule should stay flexible in accordance with your appetite. Try to go for as long as possible after each meal and then reach for a snack at the last minute to tide you over.
Another great appetite cure is drinking water! A lot of hunger pangs are a result of being low on water rather than food, so hitting your water bottle hard and often will usually make these go away.
You can kill two birds with one stone here by taking advantage of a protein powder shake! With water to ease your hunger pangs, and protein to make you feel full while preventing muscle loss, protein shakes are the ideal snack between meals when trying to limit your calories.
You can check out our premium PRO MIX here!
Before a Workout or race - Snacking for Maximum Energy!
When snacking without exercising we are trying to slow the absorption rate down to prevent any fat gain.
Before a workout we want to do the opposite, and maximise the glycogen immediately available to our muscles.
If you are using a complex carb snack before your exercise this should be 30-45 minutes before to give your body time to digest and absorb the nutrients.
If you are using a sports drink or energy snack then you only need to snack 10-15 minutes before.
The ideal sports fuel for longer workouts will have a blend of carbohydrates to improve efficiency. Glucose on its own can only be absorbed by the digestive system at around 1g per minute as this is the maximum limit of the path which it must take to enter the blood. By using alternative carbohydrates such such as Fructose, the total amount of carbohydrate can be split across two pathways, increasing the speed of absorption by up to 40% if the ratio of carbs is perfect!
If you prefer solid foods you can do this yourself by combining one of our Recharged Kendal Mint Cakes (Glucose) with some fruit (Fructose).
For a more precise carb ratio and easier digestibility you can also get 27g of our Dual Charge Carb blend in our new KMC Energy Gels!
The body can store around an hours worth of muscle glycogen for moderate exercise.
It is widely accepted that you should supplement your fuel if you are competing or exercising for longer than an hour, but the common misconception is that this means you should wait until the hour mark before taking anything on board!
By then it is too late, and your muscle glycogen levels will have already dropped to the point that it will effect your performance.
You re-fuel your car before it runs out, not after.
Get the edge on your competitors by fuelling earlier on!
After a Workout - Snacking to Recover!
When your body is finished working hard it will be crying out for nutrients.
Make sure you are giving it what it needs to help your muscles recover and to give you enough energy to carry on with your day!
Now is the time for those simple carbs to lift you back up.
For an instant pick me up why not try our Recharged Kendal Mint Cake or any of those guilty treats you've got hidden in the cupboard.
Your muscles will be low on fuel so most carbs you eat at this point will be used immediately rather than stored.
Now is the time to treat yourself to some sugar and your post workout meal can be more carb heavy as well.
With your energy sorted, your muscles will also need protein to help recover and rebuild for next time.
Using your snacks post-workout and throughout the day to increase your protein intake will allow you to train more frequently, and see the results sooner as well!
In the 15-30 minutes afterwards, a recovery shake such as our PRO MIX will be the fastest way to get this into your system and is also great for your hydration.