Productive Snacking: What It Is & Best Practices
If you’re on a journey to better health, chances are you’re avoiding snack foods at all costs. Most of them are highly processed, contain added sugars, and artificial ingredients that would disrupt all your hard work!
But, if done right, snacking can be a huge asset.
Getting additional nutrients and protein in small amounts throughout the day can:
- Provide a boost of energy between meals
- Curb appetite to prevent overeating at your next meal
- Help maintain adequate nutrition and fight deficiencies
But – if you’re not prepared and reach for one of those processed snacks, it could result in:
- Unwanted weight gain
- Blood sugar peaks and crashes that drain energy
- Cravings for more high sugar, processed foods throughout the day
Which is why any avid snacker should be aware of…
The key to productive snacking is choosing one that contains the nutrients you need for sustained satiety and energy throughout the day.
With so many snack products on the market, it can be hard to weed through what will be an asset to your health, and what could set you on the wrong path.
One of the easiest ways to choose a high-quality snack is by looking for one with protein.
The current Dietary Reference Intake Protein for women and men is 46 and 56 grams, respectively – but many experts believe this recommendation is far too low.
These numbers are based on an average body weight of 125 pounds for women, and 154 pounds for men. But when looking at the average body weight in America, for women it’s 166 pounds, and for men it’s 194 pounds.
These dietary recommendations are also based on the amount you need to avoid deficiency and disease, not what you need for optimal health.
According to many experts, a great place to start is one gram of protein, per pound of ideal body weight.
So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for 150 grams of protein per day for optimal health.
The Benefits of Protein
Ample Research shows increasing the percentage of protein in your diet can help…
- Reduce nighttime eating and cravings by HALF
- Regulate blood sugar spikes
- Reduce calorie intake by 441 per day (Weigle, 2005)
- Encourage up to 5 pounds of weight loss and 4 pounds of body fat mass in 12 weeks
Protein is rich in amino acids that the body needs for energy and maintaining muscle.
And one review found amino acid intake significantly reduced calorie intake at following meals.
But – not all protein is created equal.
A variety of different pea proteins, plant-based protein, soy proteins, animal proteins, and even meat-alternative proteins flood the marketplace, confusing consumers.
How to Choose High-Quality Protein
We know everyone is different – and different ingredients will work based on bioindividuality of course.
But when it comes to protein, there is one that stands out above the rest as far as nutrient density and bioavailability.
And if you want more energizing nutrients for less calories, in a form your body can recognize and readily absorb, you should choose a protein snack made with 100% grass fed and finished beef.
There is a rating system for proteins, called the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score, the (DIAAS), that rates proteins based on their amino acid content, and bioavailability.
And the top 5 products on their rating scale are animal products – with beef ranking a score of 111.6.
In comparison, soy has a DIASS of 99.6, peas are 47.6.
Animal Protein As the Most Bioavailable Source of Amino Acids
While this can vary slightly depending on the study referenced, researchers confirmed consumption of animal protein typically has a DIASS of 2.15 times higher than plant proteins.
This showcased that protein from animal sources are the most bioavailable source of essential amino acids.
But – not all animal protein is created equal, and the nutrient density depends on how the animal was raised…
Studies show beef from 100% grass fed and finished cows have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B, E, and other other antioxidants compared to grain fed beef.
Plus – grain fed beef is often raised in factory farms that use antibiotics and hormones and do not treat the animals humanely.
For the most nutrient-dense beef raised humanely, look for 100% grass fed and finished beef from small-scale farms.
The term “and finished” is a key indicator of high quality meat. Believe it or not, the term “grass fed” alone is highly unregulated, meaning manufacturers can use it on their label even if the cattle were finished on grain.
Avoiding Harmful Additives
With meat protein snacks, you also have to be very careful about how they are processed.
Because many products like jerky, slim jims, and other meat sticks are sold on grocery store or gas station shelves, they need to have a long shelf life without refrigeration.
As a result, nearly every meat protein snack on the market uses harsh preservatives – particularly one called encapsulated citric acid.
One study looked at the side effects of eating a product that contains this preservative, and found it caused inflammatory reactions like:
- Respiratory symptoms
- Joint pain
- Irritable bowel symptoms
- Muscular pain
In addition to preservatives, many products use artificial flavorings, added sugar or sugar alcohols, or spices that have been treated with herbicides and pesticides.
While it’s clear finding a clean protein snack isn’t as easy as grabbing something off of grocery store shelves, I have found one snack product that checks all the boxes, and then some.
If you’re interested in getting high-quality protein snacks for minimized appetite throughout the day, stable blood sugar & energy levels, and supplemental nutrients…
Sourced from small-scale farms right here in America, the beef used is not only more nutrient dense than grain-fed beef & raised humanely, but it can actually help heal our planet.
The Paleovalley farmers practice something called regenerative agriculture, which is a step better than sustainable.
By using rotational grazing methods where the cattle are rotated strategically to different pastures, the grass has a chance to regenerate, putting more nutrients into the soil and absorbing carbon out of the atmosphere!
They then add certified organic spices free of herbicides and pesticides to create 5 delicious flavors!
But, what really sets Paleovalley beef Sticks apart from any other protein snack you’ll find is the natural fermentation.
Instead of harmful preservatives, these sticks undergo a natural fermentation process, which gives them up to a year shelf-life without refrigeration, and makes them one of most gut-friendly protein snacks I’ve found.
If you’re interested in high-quality protein snacks for your health journey…