Got a craving? Munch and sip your way to a leaner, more muscular physique with these healthy snacks that do everything from fat burning to muscle building
It’s almost 3 p.m., lunch is a distant memory, and your stomach is rumbling like Thor before his morning latte. It’s not uncommon to feel peckish and parched throughout the workday, especially if you’re in the midst of a heavy-duty training program that’s burning up a sizeable chunk of calories. But graze on too much of the wrong foods or guzzle too many hazardous drinks at your workplace (read: leftover birthday cake and sugary soda), and your snack habit could have serious waistline repercussions. Smart snack and beverage choices, however, can curb your hunger pangs or keep you hydrated while also providing the vital nutrients needed to torch fat, support muscle growth and fend off diseases. Each of these supercharged snacks and drinks are work-friendly; they can either be stashed in your desk or office fridge to keep you nourished throughout the day.
Not only is low-carb string cheese abundant in muscle-friendly protein, it’s also loaded with calcium. Typecast as a mineral that’s only good for building bones of steel, emerging research now suggests that a higher intake of calcium can help torch bodyfat. Calcium may have an impact on various hormones involved in fat accumulation and bind up fatty acids in the intestine, rendering them unavailable for absorption.
Upgrade: Stash reduced-fat versions of string cheese such as part-skim mozzarella in the office fridge — these provide a better protein-to-fat ratio than full-fat sticks.
Not only does sipping green tea throughout the day allow you to stay hydrated without relying on boring plain water, it may also help keep Buddha-belly at bay. A 2012 Pennsylvania State University investigation determined that subjects who regularly consumed hot tea were less likely to have flabby midsections than those who did without. Sipping iced tea, on the other hand, was found to promote weight gain, likely due to the higher intakes of sugar. The potent antioxidant found in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) may stimulate a pokey metabolism to help shed fat as well as inhibit fat-storing enzymes. According to data presented at the meeting of the American Chemical Society, a hot-from-the-kettle cup of green or black tea delivers up to 20 times more fat-fighting antioxidants than bottled varieties, which are often weighed down by added sugars.
Upgrade: Consider splurging for matcha green tea. This Japanese tea is made by grinding up whole green tea leaves so you end up with a huge dose of EGCG in your mug.
A number of studies including a recent one by Harvard scientists have found that subjects who regularly consume crunchy nuts are at lower risk of being too pudgy than those who do without. A synergy of protein, fiber, unsaturated fats and minerals may be the reason nuts can help in the battle of the bulge, despite their high calorie count. Consider snacking on a handful of in-shell pistachios. Because you have to shell them, you’re likely to keep portions in check. Scientists at Eastern Illinois University found that the extra work of shelling pistachios caused people to consume 41% fewer calories than when they snacked on the shelled nuts, yet the subjects felt just as satisfied and full.
Upgrade: To limit your sodium intake, opt for unsalted nuts such as pistachios and almonds.