Snacks: Connecting the dots between meals

Welcome to part 4 and the final portion of building your ideal day!  We've gone through all of the main meals of the day but haven't accounted for snacking.  Incorporating a few *healthy* snacks throughout the day can have an incredibly beneficial impact on your satiety and energy levels.  Plan for one or two snacks each day that will fuel your workout and help keep you full between meals.

The best time to incorporate these snack is surrounding your workout.  In general, you need more calories on days you exercise and snacking before/after the workout is an ideal way to utilize these calories for muscle growth and fat burn.  Today we are going to discuss both pre- and post- workout snacks to determine why they are important and how they differ. 

Pre-workout snack

Pre-workout snacks are not always 100% crucial, depending on when you workout and when your last meal was.  If you ate lunch at 12:00 and workout at 2:00, you don't need an additional snack.  These snacks are ideal if you have gone 4+ hours without eating and will be exercising hard for at least 45 minutes.  In other words, have a snack if you work out in the morning before work or following work before dinner.

It should consist of primarily carbohydrates to fuel your workout and some protein to aid in muscle building and reduce soreness. Some ideas are:
- Half slice of whole wheat toast with nut butter
- Small cup of greek yogurt & granola
- Apple slices with small amount of nut butter
- Small homemade granola bar

To recap pre-workout snacking... Consume a small snack about 30-60 minutes prior to an intense workout if you need the extra energy boost and/or haven't eaten a meal in the previous two - three hours.

Post-workout snack

Following an intense workout, you want to make sure to consume something within half an hour max.  During a workout, including both strength-based and cardio-based, muscles are broken down and torn apart.  The sooner you can replenish your energy stores, the quicker your muscles will begin to repair and grow back stronger than before!  If you exercise immediately prior to one of your full meals, a post-workout snack may not be necessary, but it never hurts to consume a small snack ASAP.

The snack should be part protein to assist with muscle recovery and part carbohydrates to release high levels of insulin which assists in the transport of amino acids (proteins) to the muscles for a fast absorption. Some ideas are:
- Small protein smoothie
- Low fat chocolate milk
- Handful of almonds with bowl of berries
- Oats with fruit, flaxseed, and small amount of peanut butter mixed in

To recap post-workout snacking... Consume at least a small snack within thirty minutes following a workout

Try this fall favorite for a change in your normal routine:

Fall Granola Bars


2 cups extra-thick rolled oats (don’t use instant or quick oats!)
1 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup packed pitted Medjool dates
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ teaspoon  salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread oats, almonds and pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet with sides. Toast in the oven until slightly golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. Chop dates in a food processor in short bursts until you have a rough paste. Scrape into the bowl with the oat mixture.
  3. Warm maple syrup and almond butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring to blend. Add to the bowl along with the dried berries. Mix well to evenly distribute the chopped dates.
  4. Line an 8x8in pan with baking parchment so the paper hangs over the sides. Spoon the oat mixture into the pan and pack it down with the back of the spoon. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  5. Lift the contents out of the pan and set on a cutting board. Cut into 16 bars. Store the bars in an airtight container for a few days or freeze for longer storage.

Recipe from:


Some extra little facts/tips about snacks:

  • Try to limit each snack to 5-10% of your daily calories (75 - 150 Kcals if you are following a 1500 Kcal diet)
  • Consuming snacks throughout the day isn't 100% necessary and does not have a direct affect on metabolism.  It helps curb hunger, especially carbohydrate cravings, which typically leads to less over consumption
  • Limit late night eating/snacking unless you consumed a very early dinner (4+ hours before bedtime).  In that case, it may be beneficial to eat a small snack (less than 100 calories) of mostly carbohydrates and fat (think half an apple and 1/2 TBSP peanut butter) before bed to help keep insulin levels more stable overnight.

Now you have the basic tools to try to make each day as healthy, yet deliciously satisfying as possible!  In future nutrition series, we will go into much further detail on individual topics (macronutrients, nutrient timing, carbohydrate cycling, importance of micronutrients, and much more), so be on the look out for those!  In the meantime, give the granola bar recipe a try and let us know what you think of it.  Please visit our homepage for more information on our various programs and customized plans. and let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you for tagging along on this journey to create a full, healthy day of meals and as always; happy eating, all!