Can a Sweet Snack Be Considered Performance Food?

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you’re a foodie or nutrition lover, you know very well that simply scrolling through any social media feed for a few minutes will result in you seeing countless images of what appears to be mouth-watering sweet snacks.

And sure, while the images alone might have you craving that piece of cake or cookie (obviously,) you can then go to the caption of that image and see them being labeled as “healthy.”

But is that too good to be true?

Before you go ahead and start making sweet snacks and cookies to support your health and fitness goals, it’s important that we take a small step back and find out whether or not these foods are actually helping you progress toward your goal… or bringing you back.

Let’s take the example of a sweet, delicious cookie, and use that example to figure out whether a cookie recipe can live up to the “healthy” label.

First of all, the key to finding out whether a sweet snack is good for you is always in the ingredients.

When you’re going over and reviewing your favorite recipes, go straight to the list of ingredients. If the only modification you can find is substituting regular old cane sugar for coconut sugar, we have some news for you: it’s still sugar. Nothing about the actual nutritional value of the cookie has changed.

By reading through the ingredients and potentially making meaningful swaps or additions from whole-grain flour options such as spelt or buckwheat, high-fiber ingredients such as oats, chia, or flax, or even nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, and nuts, you’ll find that you can actually add a ton of health-boosting properties to your foods. By adding these nutrient-rich ingredients to your recipe, you will indeed boost the “healthfulness” of your sweet snack.

Second of all, remember to focus on the purpose of the snack. 

How can you decide if something is healthy for you if you don’t first relate it to your goals? Think about it: why (and when) are you eating the sweet snack? When you opt for recipes that basically fit inside your required nutrient profile, you’re golden.

If you’re chugging on a sweet snack as a pre-workout so you can consume some energy-giving carbs, which is actually the preferred source of energy for your body during intense workouts, you’re actually using that sweet snack productively.

You can also use that sweet snack as a grab and go meal, or even add some protein powder or fiber-rich veggies to help fill you up and reduce the impact it will have on your blood sugar levels.

And when you go as far as to increase the fat content of your snack with coconut oil or something like nut butter, you will be adding a ton of satiety to your snack and you’ll be able to fuel your body for lower-intensity exercise since your body tends to use more fat as energy during this type of training.

Just because it says “healthy” doesn’t mean it actually is healthy for you and your goals.

Most dietitians cringe at the word “healthy.” While that word can definitely have good intentions, for the most part, healthy tends to be a very vague word, almost to the point where it has absolutely no meaning. What’s healthy for you and your goals will not be healthy for the next person, and it can be extremely difficult for recipe creators to label their recipes as healthy if they don’t know who’s the “end consumer.”

That’s why you have to go the extra mile to understand your individual needs and define the results you would like to achieve. Only then can you actually choose sweet snacks that are “healthy” for you, or in other words, productive towards your goals. Only then can you use foods to promote better health and better fitness.

Finally, just focus on eating the original!

What does this mean? Well, we know that mashing a bunch of oats and nut butter together alongside some healthy fruit can result in a sweet snack that’s definitely rich in terms of nutritional value. That being said, attempting to add a bunch of healthy ingredients to a meal hoping it makes it better can trigger those indulgent cravings that potentially backfire on you and your goals.

Not only can they provide a “healthy halo” to a food that results in overeating on that “healthy” food, but it might also be likely to eat one healthy snack and then bring in some less nutritious options to satisfy your cravings.

A lot of the time, what’s truly healthy for you is to just eat mindfully and enjoy the treats you’re treating yourself to. It’s very easy for a mindset of guilt to overtake you if you’re on a fitness journey and trying to eat well, but it’s also very easy for you to fool yourself into thinking you’re being healthy when you’re really chugging down spoon after spoon of nut butter and racking up calories.

Yes, you should use sweet snacks to fuel your nutrition needs and your performance goals but remember that satisfaction should also be factored into the “bigger picture” of your health and fitness.

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