To Snack or Not to Snack—When & how to fuel your body

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As the world moves faster by the day, having easy-to-grab snacks to get you through your busy days—is just a good idea!

Today I’d like to welcome back my functional medicine practitioner, Deanna Appleton. She’s back for part 2 of our Optimal Wellness series. For those of us who aren’t always the best of meal planners, Deanna will share some simple and practical  snacks to fuel our bodies with the energy we need to tackle the day. We also dive into the power of intermittent fasting and how to maximize your body’s detoxification processes so you can reset everyday. 

If you aren’t someone who preps your food for the week, quick and easy snacks can be a godsend to getting through those  extra busy days.  Beware—some snacks do your body more harm than good—providing short term energy followed by an energy crash later on.

So, how do you fuel your body with nutrient-rich snacks that will actually sustain you with an even energy flow over time? The secret is giving your body the right  combination of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber. For example, when you eat fruit, make sure you have a handful of nuts or nut butter with it.  

Here’s a list of some of our favorites:

  • Paleonola “granola” — grain free 
    • Coconut or almond milk makes Paleonola a great breakfast!
  • Hard-boiled eggs 
  • Apple or banana with nuts or nut butter (pecan, almond, hazelnut, etc.) 
  • Sliced avocado with lemon juice and sunflower seeds on top 
  • Pumpkin seeds, nuts, almonds
  • Fresh veggies / crackers with guacamole or hummus
  • Lara Bars 
  • Turkey Jerky — organic, grass fed

What does it mean when people report experiencing hunger right before bed? Is it okay for our bodies to process food so close to sleep?

If you’re hungry after dinner—within 3 hours before bedtime—that usually means you’re not consuming enough calories during the day. Your body craves the carbohydrates it needs to get through the night. 

Carbs help our bodies by getting protein to the brain so it can make tryptophan. Tryptophan jumpstarts the release of serotonin and melatonin, so you can get a good night’s sleep. 

As a general rule, it’s good to be done eating 3 hours before bedtime. This way, when you’re asleep, your brain can focus solely on detoxifying — rather than on digestion.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is simply ‘fasting within a 24-hour period’ — so giving yourself 3-hours between dinner and bedtime is a good first step. 

The health benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) include: 

  • Allowing your cells to “clean house” overnight
  • Giving your body an extended amount of time to detoxify, rest and reset
  • Acting as a healthy way to lose weight 
  • Resetting your metabolism 

Once you work your body up to fasting 3-hours before bedtime + add 8-hours of sleep — you are already at 11 hrs! And if you’re interested, can work  up to more extended fasting windows:

  • 12-hour fast to start
  • 13-hour fast — best window of fasting  for cancer prevention 
  • 16-hour fast (8-hour eating window) — good weight-loss practice
  • 18-hour fast — most beneficial for mitochondrial issues

Before you begin practicing intermittent fasting, it’s important to keep a few ground rules in mind: 

  • Eat dinner by 7pm, and don’t eat anything else until 8am the next morning.
  • During your fasting window, you can drink liquids 
    • Black tea (no sugar, no cream, etc.)
    • Coffee (no sugar, no cream, etc.) 
    • Sparkling water
    • Still water
  • Some people practice intermittent fasting during weekdays and  take the weekends off.
  • Listening to your body will help you see what fasting windows work best with your biology!

When you’re first training your body to take a break from food before bed, you may experience some intense hunger close to bedtime. If you do need to eat something, Deanna recommends choosing a protein + carb — for example, a fruit and a handful of nuts or seeds. Feel free to scroll back up to the list above to see more snack ideas!

 

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