When I tell people about the Paleo diet, the first thing most people ask me is “so what do you snack on?” I can tell you straight up, its not a bag of chips, a candy bar and a soda. Although most college students’ snack plans consist of something like this. Any dietitian or nutritionist, Paleo or not, will tell you that you can’t get or stay healthy while snacking on ice cream, candy, chips and a few beers. Ahhh snacking, seems so easy doesn’t it? There is often lots of food available on campus, and if not, then campus shops and stores are always willing to take your money. Pick up a cup of coffee and a muffin here, a quick power bar there, maybe even a healthy piece of fruit wherever you are. IT ADDS UP.
Let’s look at some snacks:
Potato chips, universally considered an unhealthy snack, definitely live up to their title of “the worst”. 16 chips (one ounce, one serving):
- 150 calories
- 15 grams of carbs
- 150 mg sodium
- Some vitamin E, and C
- Not to mention, the second ingredient in chips: Vegetable oils
The presumably “not-so-bad”:
Protein bars seem to be a simple, easily accessible, healthy snack on the go. You figure “I’ll just get some protein while I’m at it!” Yah, sure you get SOY protein. Oh, and all of this:
Protein Blend (Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Isolate ), Coating (Maltitol Powder, Palm Kernel Oil, Nonfat Milk Solids, Cocoa Powder, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Hydrolyzed Collagen, Glycerin (a high calorie sweetener), Soy Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Milk Chocolate Drops (Sugar, Whole Milk Powder, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Butter Oil, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Maltitol Syrup (a low calorie sweetener), Water, Canola Oil, Natural Flavors, Maltodextrin (a high calorie sweetener), Calcium Carbonate, Almond Meal, Wheat Germ, Vitamin and Mineral Blend (Ascorbic Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide,
Cyanocobalamin), Xanthan Gum (a sweetener and allergen derived from corn and wheat), Peanut Flour, Sucralose ( aka: Splenda), Soy Lecithin.
That’s 48 ingredients too many.
The Possibly Better?
Clif Bars are synonymous with health for any standard dieter. The packaging even says “made with organic oats and soybeans” right on the front! What could be bad?
- 44 grams of carbs per bar (23 grams of sugar)
- 28 ingredients of its own (including sunflower oil, soy protein, and brown rice syrup, which is very high glycemic index)
- Peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes. Avoid them and their highly processed oils.
- Dried fruit is not fruit. It is usually loaded up with sugar, and then dried down into tiny, bite sized pieces so that you will eat more of them. In other words: if its smaller, it wont fill you up as fast and you wont feel as if you have eaten as much. So you will keep eating them, which means you will consume way, way more sugar than just eating “a piece” of fruit. Its candy with a few extra vitamins and fiber.
- Cashews are not too terrible for you. They do offer some good fats and minerals. However, they are very high in phytic acids (an antinutrient). Thus, if you are going to eat cashews, don’t eat too many and make sure they are first soaked to get rid of the phytates.
When it comes down to it, any packaged snack you buy is going to be loaded with fake sweeteners, preservatives, over-processed vegetable oils and more fake sweeteners. Your best bet, if you’re going to snack, is to stick with fresh, whole, real foods like these:
- Macademia nuts (great source of saturated fats with a few carbs and a plethora of vitamins and minerals)
- Almonds (good source of protein, higher in carbs and calories, good source of vitamins and minerals)
- Cut up veggies (always good sources of vitamins and minerals for very low carb counts, but filled with a nice energy pick-me-up)
- Cocoa Nibs, aka cocoa beans, are delicious, somewhat bitter tasting nuts that are fun to eat and full of great anti-oxidants, fat and saturated fats.
- 2 cups of each: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias,
- 1 cup of each: pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
- 1 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1 cup chopped dried dates
- 2 tablespoon of Extra virgin coconut oil (melted)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (make sure it does not have any high fructose corn syrup in it)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut shavings
Did you catch that?
The eating pattern commonly known as “grazing” makes you fat. By eating for only part of the day, and doing an “intermittent fast” the other part of the day, mouse “B” was thinner, and overall more healthy than mouse “A”. What does this mean? well, it probably means if you want to lose weight, you should have set meal times and not really snack, or “graze”. Mice trials are not always accurate and cannot be taken as the 100% truth always. They’re just something to consider.
So, snacking is not quite as simple as we previously thought. Scientific studies done on lab mice have suggested that “time restricting” your food intake can help you lose weight and stay healthy, however, lab rats are not always to be trusted. For now, we should just consider the rats as “food for thought” ;). Hopefully, the snack ideas provided in this post help you feel more comfortable making the “Paleo plunge,” and trust me, they are pretty delicious, too. Every time I make a big batch of trail mix, my friends and family snatch it up before I can even taste it. It even makes your kitchen smell ridiculously good.
Have any other snack ideas? Recipes? Questions? Comments? Complaints? Leave a comment!