You started a Nutrition Challenge, you're feeling committed, and then that 2 pm feeling hits. The vending machine, Wawa, and GrubHub are calling your name. Now what? First, let's debunk some myths.
1. Veggies, fruits and nuts are great snacks!
This is mostly false. If you read more about the Macro conversation under 'Food Guidelines', then you know that all meals, from large to small, need to include all three Macros (Protein, Carb, and Fat). Read the 'Snack Smart' post for some suggested building blocks to create snacks. The only exception here is the pre-workout snack, which I'll talk about below.
2. If I'm going to cheat, I might as well cheat on a small snack instead of a large meal.
This is 100% false. Even a small intake of something high in calories, sugar, or another inflammatory food group sends mixed signals to your brain. You might feel satisfied for a short time, and get a burst of energy, but you'll eventually crash, and impede your overall progress.
3. There's no need for snacks - three meals a day is sufficient.
This is partly false. If you're working out 3-4 or more days a week, a snack can definitely benefit you on your workout days. Here's a good rule of thumb:
Eat a snack 15-60 minutes before you workout, as a signal to prepare your body for activity. Include a small amount of protein, and a small amount of fat. Do NOT add fruit or vegetables to this snack.
Eat a meal with 15-30 minutes of working out. This meal should include a full portion of protein, carbohydrates (vegetables), and fat. Do not use fruit as a primary carbohydrate after your workout.