Health & Wellness Blog

28/06/2023

What Makes An Energy Boosting Snack

Ben Cooper

Sustained energy is seemingly becoming more and more elusive for many of us, especially healthcare workers!

Snacks can provide sustained energy with just a little bit of forethought. This means making smart choices with the snacks we choose in order to nourish the body, keep energy levels stable, and help you feel full off of less food.

 

Here’s the key: The best snacks balance “Macronutrients”.

 

The three macronutrients are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Healthy Fats

In order to get the most out of your snack, balance these three and you’ll be able to tailor your snacking to your required energy levels.

Let’s break down each of these three.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy. They are found in foods such as grains (bread, rice, pasta), starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn), legumes (beans, lentils), fruits, and sugars.

The important thing to remember with carbohydrates is that they come in two forms:

  1. Simple Carbohydrates

For short-term, rapid energy boosts, you’re looking for simple carbohydrates. These are best acquired from natural sources, such as fruits and vegetables. We should definitely be limiting our intake of added sugars as they often lack the nutritional value of naturally occurring simple carbohydrates, and increase risk of chronic diseases.

  1. Complex Carbohydrates

For longer term, sustained energy, it’s time to bring out the complex carbs. These take longer for your body to absorb, and so they provide a decent amount of energy over a much longer timeframe  Typically, they’re also rich in dietary fibre and other nutrients, which will contribute to your overall health and wellbeing. Whole grains, legumes and other vegetables are packed full of these.

Getting the right formula of carbohydrates into your system can really change your energy levels throughout the day.

 

Protein

Proteins are essential for growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues, as well as for various metabolic functions, like getting mad gains at the gym.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 kinds of amino acids, and 9 of them are considered essential, as they cannot be produced naturally in your body must be obtained through food intake.

Mixing your intake of amino acid forms really helps create a well-rounded nutrient makeup, providing you with sustainable energy, and to a greater extent, physical capability.

You can gain protein from both animal and plant-based sources. Given that all animals also use proteins and amino acids, eating them will mean you’ll gain more complete sets of essential amino acids, so animal-based protein sources tend to be a little more efficient.

Plant-based sources of protein include legumes, soy products, quinoa, seeds, nuts and some grains. These tend to have incomplete sets of protein but mixing them is easy enough if you’re looking to incorporate more vegetables into your snack routine, as they’re also a great source of complex carbohydrates.

 

Healthy Fats

There are a few kinds of fats, and they all have difficult names to remember, though you may have heard of some of them.

These are saturated fats, trans fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.

To be a little reductive, the healthy fats are monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega 3. You should limit saturated fats and try to avoid trans fats. Fats contain 9 calories per gram, making them the most energy-dense of the macronutrients.

So where can you get these healthy fats that have long names? You can find them bountifully in avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, as well as canola, flaxseed and vegetable oils.

 

Snack Ideas

If you can balance the intake of Protein, Complex Carbohydrates and Healthy Fats, then you’re in business for some long-lasting energy from a relatively small snack.

In saying that, here are some snack ideas that can nail these on the head:

Carrot sticks with hummus

Crackers with avocado and smoked salmon

Roasted cumin chickpeas

Other ideas:

  • Greek yoghurt with berries and chia seeds
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter and banana slices
  • Apple slices with almond butter
  • Baked kumara fries with greek yoghurt dip

 

If none of these snack ideas sound super appealing, I understand. Each to their own! The trick now is to figure out how to hit 2/3 of the macronutrients on this list.

The more of these you can get, the better the energy you’ll gain from the snack, and hopefully, your day will be that little bit cheerier.

 

Until next time!

Ben the quasi-wellness writer.

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