Better Snacking: An Easy Formula
I'm a big snacker. I eat every three - four hours from 7 am to 7 pm. (Keep in mind nutrition is highly personal, what works for me might not work for you.) I have low blood sugar so eating small meals and snacks throughout the day is what my body seems to need. It keeps hanger at bay, I'm quick to getting hangry (anger due to hunger) if my blood sugar dips too low.
However, it can be easy to eat too much if all of my meals and snacks are big. Also, if I eat all refined carbs (think a handful or pretzels or a couple of sugar cookies), it will lead to a blood sugar crash soon after and then wanting more food. Plus, I would like each time I eat to provide good fuel for my body. Refined carbohydrates don't add much value. I like to eat real food as much as possible and stay away from processed prepackaged snacks.
The key to not overdoing it to is keep snacks at or below 200 calories. Also important, make sure your snack contains a mix of fiber, fat and protein. This will help you be satisfied but not eat too much. An easy snack formula: a produce and a protein.
These ideas would all be easy prepare ahead by seperating in containers for the week so you will be ready for snack time with healthier choices.
Take A Break!
I hope you have made fitness a habit and are working out almost every day. Notice I said almost every day? Rest days are an important part of your fitness program.
When strength training you are actually tearing your muscles and when they rebuild is when they get stronger. That is why you shouldn't work the same muscle group with any type of resistance on back to back days. You can work different muscle groups on different days to help with muscle recovery. For example, upper body one day and legs the next.
Rest days are still important even when splitting up days to weight train muscle groups. Exercise, especially higher intensity workouts, are taxing on your body and deplete your glycogen stores which you use for energy. In order to keep progressing, and reduce your likelihood of injury, you need to give your body a break once and awhile to repair and re-energize.
So how often should you rest? If you are starting out with a new exercise program or are a beginner exerciser, rest every third day (that is, exercise two consecutive days and rest the third). More experienced exercisers should remain inactive or take an active recovery day once a week.
What does a rest day look like? How inactive you are on your rest day depends on the intensity of your workouts leading up to it. For example, if you are killing it in the gym day in and day out, your rest day should be a day completely off, maybe go for a walk, but no gym or workout video. However, if your workouts have been light to moderate intensity all week, you can take a more active recovery day. That might include playing a sport outside, taking a yoga class, or going for a longer walk.