Aligning your meal and snack choices shouldn’t be so scientifically drawn out that it becomes more work and less play. By thinking about your meal/snack choices in a different light rather than calorie restricted, you can easily find a balance that keeps you feeling full and satisfied longer than a handful of popcorn or a piece of 100 calorie candy.
Pairing together protein with complex carbohydrates is the best way to start “re-training” your brain. When we are hungry (or in my tummy-growling condition, hangry) our first sinful tendency is to reach for the carbohydrates, and not the good kind either. We can not help it, it’s what our human tendency is trained to do! Believe it or not there’s a scientific explanation for it too. Carbohydrates release a hormone in our body that fuels a sort of “happy” feeling when we consume them. This is where the terms “Feel Good Food”, “Soul Food”, and “Comfort Food” came from. Furthermore, too many carbohydrates in the diet and our bodies start to over produce insulin, causing an underlying problem of insulin resistance and weight gain. However, this is also the reason why people who suppress their carb intake or take part in an extremely low-carbohydrate diet get slightly depressed (no, it’s not because they are restricted from eating ice cream). So we can all agree, it’s important to have and remain in balance with carbohydrates. They can be our friends, but too many and they become the friend that never wants to leave (haha, joke).
By adding more protein to our meals/snacks, the protein compensates for the carbohydrates and cause us to feel more full, faster (so we ultimately eat less carbs than we would have if we just had carbs alone). Protein not only fills us up faster but it keeps us feeling full for a longer amount of time. It’s what our body uses for fuel after it burns up the fasting acting carbs. Say you have peanut butter crackers for a snack. The body first uses the crackers for fasting acting energy in the form of glucose. After that fuel source is depleted, it moves on to the protein in the peanut butter, keeping you going long after the crackers have already been broken down.
Mind blown. I’m sold. Let’s start adding more protein to our diets stat!
Fruit + Nuts + Greek Yogurt
(1 serving of yogurt = 20 grams protein)
Greek yogurt (the kind that is not yet flavored) has an extreme UFC punch of protein. To many, the flavor is quite lacking and somewhat of a turn off but there is hope, my friends. I dump so many toppings on my yogurt, you can hardly call it yogurt anymore. It has become more of a nutrient volcano that erupts with a boldness of flavor. I suggest adding a drizzle of honey, some crushed up nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) and some berries to give your tummy and taste buds something to look forward to.
Protein: Yogurt and Nuts
Carbohydrate: Honey and Fruit
Almond Butter + Fruit
(2 tbsp = 6 grams protein)
Almond butter is a no brainer for any busy human with a schedule. It’s fast, easy, shelf stable and simply delicious. Typically a serving size is about 2 Tbsp, so I warn against eating the entire tub at once. Pair it with any fruit and you’ve got yourself a wonderfully protein packed snack!
Protein: Almond Butter or Peanut Butter
Carbohydrate: Apple Slices
Egg + Whole Grain Bread
(1 egg = 7 grams protein)
Boiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, either way you order them, it’s a great source of protein that will fuel your body after it metabolites the whole grain bread. Whole grain bread provides fiber, also keeping you full and satisfied for a longer amount of time. Not to mention, keeps your blood sugars in check and your bowels moving regularly. Say yes to more fiber (just as long as your drinking plenty of water)!
Carbohydrate: Whole Grain Bread
Black Beans + Chicken + Red Bell Pepper
(1/2 cup black beans + 1/2 cup chopped chicken = 22 grams protein)
Black beans are on the fence of dividing the protein and carbohydrate categories. It is one food that can be considered both a protein and a carbohydrate at one time. Because they are starchy, they provide the carbohydrates your body needs and the protein you want. Add in some chicken and veggies and your dish just doubled with the amount of protein!
Protein: Chicken and Black Beans
Carbohydrate: Black Beans
Red Quinoa + Sweet Potato + Spring Salad Mix
(1/2 cup quinoa = 12 grams protein)
Quinoa is one of my trade secrets, I use it in all of my protein bowls when Justin (my husband) wants something healthy but filling. It’s nutrient profile contains quite a bit of protein for it’s size (some refer to it as a super food, but it’s also super yummy). Sweet potatoes are starchy but unlike some other starches, this food provides plenty of vitamins and nutrients your body can use.
Carbohydrate: Sweet Potato
So there you have it, pairing a protein source and a carbohydrate together is the magic combination, thus making you full and keeping you satisfied throughout your busy work schedule. Planning meals shouldn’t be frustrating or exhausting. I suggest keeping a list of protein foods hanging in your pantry if you need a quick reminder of what foods can pair together. I hope this article helps you plow down some roadblocks within your healthy diet, let me know what you think or what articles you wish to read next!
Until next time,
Like This Post?
Share it on Facebook!
Follow me on Pinterest! @The Healthy Chew
Follow me on Instagram! @TheHealthyChew
Follow me on YouTube! @The Healthy Chew
Comment your questions!
email me at StephanieRackley@thehealthychew.org
**All photos were taken by and for The Healthy Chew – all rights reserved.