Easy ways to snack for success
This year is going to be big for fitness fanatics in the UK, there are a whole host of sporting events from the Olympics to the European Football Championships taking place, which are sure to persuade Brits to pull on those trainers and get outdoors. All good fitness routines begin with a healthy diet but it’s not always easy to figure out what’s really good for you in the process of building - or maintaining - a healthy body.
There’s no question about it: if you’re exercising regularly, the food you eat should support your workout routine. Whether you’re a casual visitor to the gym or training for your first 100-mile bike ride, proper nutrition is essential. That means paying attention to the nutrient content of the foods you’re eating, as your body will use and demand them differently than if you were living a sedentary lifestyle. And don’t be fooled - there are lots of foods which are packed with sugar and calories, with no or few important nutrients, aimed at athletes.
For fitness fanatics and newcomers alike, smart snacking options can provide an added boost of nutrients that the body needs - even when you’re on the go. Consider making a combination of these snacks a regular part of your routine.
According to Dr. Cathy Kapica, Adjunct Professor of Nutrition at Tufts University, and a science advisor to the American Pistachio Growers: "The odd snack here and there isn’t a bad thing. In fact snacks can be an important part of a healthy eating style. Choosing snack foods that are nutritious and taste good, such as pistachios, will help to alleviate the sense of guilt around snacking.”
Pistachios. Not all nuts are the same, and studies are increasingly finding that these little green treats might just be an athlete’s best friend. Pistachios (americanpistachios.org) are packed with nutrients that rank among the most important for optimal performance and health. They provide wholesome protein that is crucial for building and repairing muscle, in addition to gamma-tocopherol (a member of the vitamin E family) that has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant nutrients, which can be sapped during intensive exercise. The healthy fats in pistachios, which are the official snack of the USA Water Polo Men’s and Women’s teams, are no threat to your workout results, either – in fact, they’ll bolster your routine because they are a fuel for endurance.
Fruits and vegetables. The government’s Change 4 Life campaign makes no bones about it – fruits and vegetables are an incredibly important part of a healthy diet (nhs.uk/Change4Life). And for athletes, they’re a great source of vitamins and minerals that are important when your body is subjected to the extra demands of exercise. Choosing fruits and vegetables over juices can also give you added fiber to keep your body healthy. Whether you pack fresh or dried fruits and veg for your pre- or post-workout snack, you can be sure that you’re giving your body the extra vitamins it needs for top performance.
Whole grains. No, you don’t need to carry a loaf of bread with you. Instead, look for small, portable bars that offer the multiple benefits of natural whole grains. They’re yet another source of healthy fiber that can help keep you going and will keep you from feeling hungry again shortly after you’ve eaten. And because they’re whole, these grains retain much of their vitamin content that your body craves. If you can find bars that incorporate honey, so much the better, as it is yet another great source of energy.
Taking care of your body will help it serve you well over the years, whether you’re a student athlete, an active senior citizen or anywhere in between. To do so, keep in mind that fitness and nutrition always go hand in hand and you’ll be able to get the results you really want.
For more information about healthy snacking, visit AmericanPistachios.org.