I don’t like dealing with absolutes when it comes to nutrition and exercise. So while I won’t say that it is necessary to have protein with every snack or meal, I will say that it is ideal. As someone who exercises on a regular basis, it is important to fuel your body with adequate protein to help with strength and muscle development. By consuming protein throughout the day through snacks, you can be sure that you are hitting your daily protein requirements without consuming uncomfortable amounts at lunch and dinner time.
Another reason to consume protein with every snack has to do with keeping your macro-nutrients balanced. (Recall that the three macro-nutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat). If your goal is fat loss, then we want to minimize the effect of insulin in our bodies. To do this, we want to pair slow-digesting carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) with healthy fats and proteins.
A simple guideline to follow is:
1) Avoid only having any one macro-nutrient as a snack (i.e. don’t just have protein or just carbs or just fats as a snack)
2) Pair Carbohydrates+Protein or Fat+Protein, or Carbohydrates+Fat+Protein, but try to avoid pairing just Carbohydrates+Fat.
Protein doesn’t just mean meat! Here are some examples of some delicious, on-the-go protein options
• Hard boiled eggs
• Protein Powder
• Almonds or other nuts/seeds
• Plain Greek Yogurt
• Cottage Cheese