I have never been a "5 meals a day" girl...ever. I have tried it and failed repeatedly - it simply doesn't work for me. I respect that it may be the "ideal eating method" (according to nutritionists and trainers), but I have always been a three meals per day girl. I believe everyone is different and we have to stick with what actually works for us personally - not what a magazine says "everyone" should do.
That being said, I've recently identified a need to find effective, reasonable snacks as it relates to my exercise schedule. For the past few weeks I've been way more active than I was before, and am getting back into my gym routine. When I do a really solid workout in the evening after work, I am beyond hungry when I get home - it even starts setting in about half way through my workout! This is because I haven't eaten since noon and am blasting calories at the gym, adding to my hunger level by the minute (I realize I'm sounding a bit dramatic but I'm trying to do the best job describing my situation :).
When I workout in the morning (my normal routine) I am always at a loss when it comes to a "meal" beforehand. I am not the one to get up at 4:30 in the morning just so I can make breakfast, wait for it to digest, and then head to the gym an hour later. However, when I don't eat anything, I do notice that my workouts aren't as powerful and my energy level is a bit low. By the time I get home, I am really needing food!
The other day I decided to take a trip to the grocery store to QFC (my favorite) to try out a few options and see what works. Here were my findings, which I am already loving:
Kashi TLC Peanutty Dark Chocolate Layered Granola Bars
I love these granola bars for three main reasons:
1. They don't taste processed and gross, leaving me with an icky feeling after I eat them - they are just the opposite!
2. The dark chocolate feature is fantastic - totally satisfying without tasting too sweet.
3. They're only 130 calories per bar with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Great mini meal that doesn't make me too full before a workout. I can even eat it on the way to the gym.
Nature's Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Granola
This stuff is great. It's lower calorie than the heavy, rich (sweet and fattening) standard granola types, and provides a great twist with the pumpkin flavor. It's also whole grain, not too much sugar, and a decent amount of protein and fiber. The flax and pumpkin seeds are omega-rich too! I like putting this on a small serving of yogurt or alone with soy milk for a complete snack at least one hour before I workout. It's also a great breakfast option!
Chobani Greek Yogurt
I featured this yogurt a couple months ago, as it was recommended to me by my boot camp instructor, Kimae. I love Chobani because it's made with all natural ingredients and is creamy and satisfying (I've never been much of a yogurt person, by the way). It's also a great portion (around 150 calories per container). Lastly, Greek yogurt tends to have more protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. Yesterday when I went to QFC, I bought about 10 of these and the cashier goes "wow, you got a lot of those!" - it was pretty funny. I then, of course, told her all about the wonders of Chobani yogurt.
La Panzanella Whole Wheat Croccantini crackers
I love these crackers. They are a bit more of an indulgence for me because they are my favorite after work snack (with brie cheese) for when I know I'll be eating a late dinner. They are whole wheat but do not have the gross cardboard taste that many whole wheat varieties do. Just about just 100 calories per cracker/sheet, they are the perfect serving size with a bit of cheese.
What is your favorite snack to help fuel a workout (without filling you up too much)?