I remember a particular vacation with my family when we stopped for a quick meal at a fast-food restaurant, the teenage girl taking my order asked me, “Hey cutie, what do you want to be when you grow up?” My face lit up, and it didn’t take a second for me to scream out, “I’m going to be a pro wrestler!” as I pointed two fingers at the picture of “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan on my t-shirt. I was seven years old and was already a tall, lanky beanpole of a kid.
A few years later, I realized the genetic makeup to be a massively muscled pro wrestler didn’t run in my family. I was destined to be skinny. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I always wanted bigger muscles. By the time I was 25, I had tried every supplement on the market, hit the weights more often than I probably should have, and finally made it to the big 200-pound mark.
However, once I gave up all the weight-gain shakes and supplements, it only took a few months for my weight to come crashing back down to around 170 pounds. It’s been ten years since, and even though I’m now more content with my natural #physique, I still try to keep a little muscle on my lanky frame. However, these days I’m through with waking up at 4:00 a.m. for a protein shake. Instead, I now try to eat as healthily as possible while focusing on feeding my muscles.
So, what makes for a simple, healthy muscle snack? The short answer is, of course, #protein. When looking for whole-food options for your muscles, low- or good-fat products with ample calories and protein are the key. Simplicity and transportability are the other two options to consider. For instance, #chicken doesn’t make my list because I want to be able to grab a snack from my bag. I know that if I carry a healthy snack with me, I will be far less likely to stop at a fast-food restaurant or convenience store, and I won’t be tempted to give in to temptation and eat something unhealthy.
Here are my top five muscle snacks:
NUTS AND SEEDS
Try mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, and #pumpkin seeds, mix them all together, and put my makeshift trail mix in plastic bags that can be taken anywhere and eaten at any time. Nuts and seeds are great natural sources of protein and unsaturated fats and are low in sugar.
FRUIT WITH PEANUT BUTTER OR ALMOND BUTTER
Put a banana or apple in your bag along with a jar of peanut butter and a disposable knife. You can even buy almond and peanut butter in single-sized servings to make this snack convenient and simple.
Rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, tuna is a great choice to keep in your bag, especially now that you can buy easy-to-open pouches that don’t require a can opener. Just opt out of pre-made tuna salad. It’s full of additional ingredients and excess fat.
Jerky (beef or turkey) is last on the list because all jerky is not the same. Avoid “meat sticks” that are high in fat (and who knows what else). Look for sugar and salt content on the label. Many jerky snacks are very high in sodium, but lower-sodium, nitrate-free varieties are available.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Thornton is a freelance writer, chef, and creative. He holds a BA in Speech from Arkansas Tech University, where he was awarded both creative writing and theater performance scholarships during his academic career. Thornton is driven to create and often picks up a paintbrush when not working on a new piece of writing or culinary creation.