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Snacks On, Snacks Off

Posted 8/7/2017 by UHBlog

Are your snacking habits keeping you on track for your workout goals? We can help.

Snacks On, Snacks Off

When the munchies strike and your snack game is “on,” do you keep your sport in mind? Even your smallest meals can make a big impact.

“Working out requires fuel, and this fuel comes in the form of carbohydrates, fat, protein and fluids,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Amy Jamieson-Petonic.

If your mentality when snacking is “I’ll burn it off later,” your munching habits may be inhibiting your athletic performance. Snacks like potato chips don’t contain the nutrients you lose during exercise.

According to Jamieson-Petonic, easy snacks to replenish lost nutrients include:

  • A turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato
  • A glass of chocolate milk
  • Whole grain pasta with meat sauce
  • Fresh fruit
  • Whole grain tortilla chips and salsa
  • Hummus and fresh veggies (carrots, cucumbers, peppers and celery)
  • Whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese
  • Nuts, such as almonds or pistachios

Even if you’re munching on snacks that are better for you, it’s easy to overdo it and eat too much. “The palm of your hand is a good gauge for a snack portion size,” says Jamieson-Petonic.

After a hard workout, there’s a five-hour window in which it is especially important to pay attention to what you’re taking in.

“The recommendation is approximately 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight in the first hour and then 1.5 grams/kg for the next two to four hours following exercise,” she says. “For protein, 20 grams is the magic number for replacement and repair of muscles.”

For example, a 154-pound athlete (70 kilograms) needs 105 grams of carbohydrates after exercise, which is roughly one-and-a-half cups of pasta.

Jamieson-Petonic says that generally, endurance athletes will require more carbs, whereas strength athletes may require more protein. However, all athletes must consistently take in nutrients during their day.

“Athletes need more fuel than their less active counterparts. The recommendation is consuming three meals and three snack per days to fuel your body for athletic performance,” she says.

One of Jamieson-Petonic’s recommended snacks for athletes is trail mix, which is an easy grab-and-go option:

Trail Mix Recipe:
  • 1 cup almonds
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Mix and store in an airtight container.

For more snacking ideas, you can speak with a registered dietitian. To make an appointment, call 216-844-1499.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, MEd, RDN, CSSD, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Jamieson-Petonic or any other health care professional online.

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