“I’m too busy to eat healthy”. If I had a dime for every time I heard that excuse… well, you know the rest. Come on, admit it- when it comes to exercise and eating right, you’ve probably made that excuse. Heck, we’ve ALL used that excuse. The truth is, most of us ARE really busy, but if we prioritize living healthy lifestyles, we can make it happen.
When it comes to eating well, preparation is key. Dedicating a little bit of time each week to do some grocery shopping and cook in bulk can go a long way toward helping you reach your health and fitness goals. Still, there are times when we are so rushed that we just need something to eat fast, really fast. Like less-than-five-minutes-to-prepare fast or grab-and-get-out-the-door fast. So with that in mind, here are some of my go-to snacks for when I’m on the go.
*Remember, these aren’t necessarily complete meals, but they’ll do a good job of holding you over with a boost of high-quality nutrition until you can get a real, complete meal.
This tried and true classic does a good job covering all of the bases; you’ll get a decent amount of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which may be cardio-protective. The protein, fiber, and fat will help you feel satiated and also help prevent the fruit sugar from having a tremendous impact on your blood sugar or insulin levels. For a significant boost of protein, add a serving of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese to this snack- it tastes pretty good!
It’s hard to go wrong with veggies- they’re packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, all while providing very few calories. However, for some, these incredibly nutrient dense foods can taste pretty boring. Dipping them in hummus does a good job of solving that problem, and the hummus will also give you a little bit of protein along with some healthy monounsaturated olive oil. If you’re well prepared, you can throw in a piece of pre-cooked chicken breast (I like to cut it into strips) for a quick, substantial meal.
Lentils and beans give you good bang for your buck; they’re very affordable and provide a ton of protein and fiber, all while providing low-glycemic carbohydrate. Add in some avocado or guacamole for some more fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, and a ton of vitamins and minerals. The protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats will also do a great job keeping you full. Beans and lentils can take time to prepare, so if you have to occasionally resort to canned beans or lentils, don’t feel too bad- just don’t make a habit out of it. The best way that I’ve found to prepare beans and lentils is to use a slow cooker or crock pot; just throw the beans/lentils in with some water and let it cook overnight. It’s that easy, and you’ll have enough beans and lentils to last you for several meals!
Jerky is a good source of protein, keeps for a pretty long time even at room temperature, and is super easy to just grab when you’re on the go. It’s a great protein source to take with you when you’re traveling. Some pre-cut, raw veggies and/or a piece of fruit are a nice addition that will provide some fiber, vitamins, minerals, and all of the other good stuff mentioned before. Not all jerky is created equal, though. Conventional jerky often contains a lot of preservatives, artificial coloring, MSG, and even trans/hydrogenated fats. Not good. Fortunately, there are some organic jerkies like WholeFoodToday and Snack Master’s jerky that don’t contain all of the nasty ingredients.
For some, protein shakes can sound a bit intimidating. Some people are worried that protein shakes will cause the growth of huge muscles- after all, don’t bodybuilders drink protein shakes? While protein shakes can be used effectively to stimulate muscle growth, drinking them alone certainly won’t make one grow muscles overnight. Furthermore, some muscle growth- even for women- is a good thing; it makes us stronger and increases our metabolic rates, ultimately helping us to lose fat to look lean and “toned”. Apart from that, however, many people are afraid of drinking protein shakes because they seem too artificial. However, when prepared properly with the right whole-food ingredients, they can make quick, easy, and extremely nutritious meals that can be taken with you on the go.
The base of any protein shake is, well, the protein source. Whey protein is the preferred source because much research demonstrates the beneficial effects of whey protein (it’s good for much more than just building muscle). There are myriad varieties of whey protein, so try selecting your variety with these general recommendations:
– Whey protein isolate is the best
– Try to avoid artificial sweeteners (they can cause GI upset)
– Try to avoid added sugars
Personally, I like to mix my own custom protein shakes at TrueNutrition.com. To make the protein shake a more complete meal, I add in some fruit (frozen berries work very well), fish oil, flax seed meal, and cinnamon. I also like to add some Greens+ Superfood. This makes a tasty and refreshing drink that is high in protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and healthy omega-3 fats. The best part of all is that is takes about 5 minutes to prepare several servings (just throw the ingredients into a blender with water and blend for several seconds) and can be stored in a bottle so that you can take it with you wherever you may go.
As you can see, these snacks can be quite healthy and do a great job complementing or replacing meals. Next time you’re on the run, try one of these snacks- your body will thank you for it.
And if someone you know tells you they’re too busy to eat healthy foods, send them here 😉