These healthy high-protein snacks will help you stay on track without making you feel like you’re sacrificing your favorite foods.
How many times a day do you find yourself mindlessly reaching for something to savor in between meals? Tonal coach Gabby Sansosti is right there with you. “I’m definitely a snacker, and I think that’s because my body naturally wants to eat smaller bites more often than full meals,” she says.
And that’s not a bad thing. A third of Americans surveyed said they snacked at least once a day, according to 2020 data from the International Food Information Council. Healthy snacks can provide energy in the middle of the day or pre- and post-exercise; help you get extra nutrients and calories; decrease hunger and keep you from overeating at mealtime, and boost your brainpower and stabilize your mood.
“But my brain doesn’t always want to reach for the healthiest thing,” admits Coach Gabby. “So I’m making a commitment to shift toward better-for-me options.”
What you don’t want are snacks full of empty calories—a.k.a. little nutritional value to fuel your body. And, yet, the most common snack choices in the United States are cookies, chips, ice cream, candy, popcorn, soft drinks, crackers, and cake, according to 2018 research published in the journal Physiology & Behavior (some healthy options like fruit, nuts and seeds, and yogurt did make the list). These less-healthy choices can lead to sugar crashes that mess with your mood and energy levels and may lead to unwanted weight gain.
One of the most popular reasons for snacking in the International Food Information Council survey was the mere fact that snack foods were easily available. So just stocking your pantry and fridge with the right options can go a long way toward keeping your nutrition on track. “That’s why I love a snack box—there’s so much opportunity for variation,” says Coach Gabby. Think: crunchy (veggie sticks), creamy (hummus), sweet (fresh fruit or dark chocolate), and savory or salty (a few cubes of cheese and nuts). Try to fill your box with a protein, a carb, and a color, she says—that will help you get the most filling nutrients in between meals.
You also don’t really need to cut out any particular type of snack. “I don’t believe in depriving the body of anything,” says Coach Gabby. “It’s more about moderation and making subtle healthier choices when you’re reaching for something to tide you over.”
Coach Gabby, for example, tweaked a favorite family meatball recipe to incorporate lean turkey, which has fewer calories and saturated fat than beef. “I’ll meal-prep these on a Sunday, and then grab three or so on my way out the door to have for my lunch break or in between workouts,” she says. The best part: All that protein and vitamins like B12 help her stay full longer, so she doesn’t crave even more between meals.
Still, the reality is, “we do crave sweets, so how do we go about fulfilling those desires in a way that’s healthy but still enjoyable?” she asks. The answer: a delicious frozen treat made with creamy Greek yogurt and frozen mango that you can whip up in a blender in minutes.
Plus, you’re working hard during this Four-Week Fast Track Challenge. “When you work hard, treat yourself!” says Coach Gabby. “I really believe you can have it all. That’s where the moderation part comes in. In the same way, you don’t over-exercise and burn yourself out, don’t eat an entire carton of ice cream in one sitting.”
A little bit goes a long way—especially when it comes to Coach Gabby’s healthy, satisfying grab-and-go snack options. Keep these ingredients on hand to stay fueled and full throughout the entire Four-Week Fast Track Challenge.