Weekly Meal Strategies: Part 5 (Snacks)

muscle-chef-back-to-the-basics-series

Part 5 Snacks:

Snacks……I prefer to call them Meals, even though they tend to be smaller than regular meals.  For the intent of this blog I will call them snacks to differentiate between bigger meals such as Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

There are no hard rules on snacks.  There are guiding principles, however, that often apply and they may differ for various individuals.

Key Points:

  1. Most people should adhere to the “Eat every 3-5 hrs” principle.  Snacks allow you to maintain a constant stream of nutrients in your bloodstream.
  2. Snacks are used as a tool to suppress hunger cravings that will lead to a potential nightmare at dinner time.
  3. Snacks often serve as a supplement to make sure you get adequate levels of protein into your bloodstream.
  4. Snacks can often serve as pre-workout boosts or post-workout recovery aids.

How many snacks should I have in one day and how many calories?

This often depends on the individual, his lifestyle, and his eating preferences.  Some people prefer bigger meals. Others prefer smaller meals throughout the day.  Some wake up very early and need a midmorning snack whereas others have the opposite problem; they are up later in the evening and need a snack at 9pm.  Your snack choice and size of snack will be dependent on these factors.

I have devised countless plans that vary from person to person.  However for the most part, people usually select one of three basic plans:

A) Breakfast – Snack – Lunch – Snack – Dinner

B) Breakfast – Lunch – Snack – Dinner

C) Breakfast – Snack – Lunch – Snack – Dinner – Snack

The Snack choice often depends on what their protein prescription is and how they are fulfilling those needs throughout the day.  The other key factor is activity levels.

Examples:

John has protein needs of 180g per day.

John’s Protein breakdown:  Breakfast 40g  Lunch 45g  Dinner 45g

John still needs 50 grams of protein.  We can fulfill those needs in a number of ways. One way is to add another meal.  Another way is to divide the protein into two 25g snacks placed strategically throughout the day.  The possibilities are numerous.

Sharon has protein needs of 120g daily.

Sharon’s Protein breakdown:  Breakfast 30g  Lunch 30g  Dinner 30g

Sharon still needs 30 grams of protein.  She may get 25g in the form of a protein shake and get the other 5g with the almonds she has later in the day. We could also set up another “meal” if we wanted to, consisting of 30g of protein.

Once again, the options are numerous based on one’s needs.

Question: Is your snack always dependent on your protein needs?

The answer is no. Often times, we might meet all of our protein needs through 4 solid meals and use the snack strategically to meet other needs.

Here’s the MAIN POINT:

ALWAYS HAVE A PURPOSE FOR YOUR SNACKS

and…… have that purpose fit in line with the overall goals for the week and the day, with the guidance of a Coach who is well aware of your needs.

HOW I DO SNACKS…

  1. Protein Boost.  I will often have a protein based source at some point in the day.  This is often after a workout but not confined solely for this purpose. That snack is usually one of the following:
  • Chicken breast
  • Cottage Cheese and Protein powder blend
  • Protein Shake
  • Protein Bar
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Egg White Omellete
  • Whole Eggs

2. Volume Boost.  There are times when I’m just downright hungry and the only thing that will squash the hunger is some volume food like a big salad with low cal dressing. This snack can go a long way on days where I may have been extra active and tolerable hunger becomes a little intolerable.

3. Treat.  This is rare, but if I’m super rigid with my food and know that I’m in a situation where I just want the flavoured coffee or a cookie, I will subscribe to the 80-20 rule, 80 percent of my  nutrients being high nutrient yield food, thereby meeting my needs and 20% of my food meeting “emotional/psychological” needs.

The Bottom Line:

Work with a trained Coach to develop a plan to meet the needs that you have and develop a plan around your daily consumption. Snacks have a place; use them wisely.

 

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