Got the munchies? Midnight snacker? Sugar addiction? Salt addiction? Breakroom-snack vacuum cleaner?
Whatever your craving is, no amount of willpower is strong enough to overcome the munchies.
Great news! Your willpower doesn’t need a tune-up. Munchies might be a sign that your macros are off. Let’s dive into a three-step fix.
Let’s start at the beginning: what are macros? Macros are the three major fuel sources for the body: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Today’s pop media has influenced many people to think carbs are scary or bad. In reality, they make up 60% of the fuel that your brain and body need to function. If you’ve ever “cut” for a physique competition and found yourself with a blazing headache, brain fog, and random crying episodes, you’ve discovered you can’t sustain a low-carb diet forever.
Carbs don’t have to be scary. While processed sugar has no known health benefit, other carbs like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains supply energy, keep the bowels working, and preserve hard-earned muscle mass. You’re well on your way to munchie-battling success if you fill your plate at each meal with a mound of green veggies.
Now, what about the other macros? Those who grew up in the 80s heard the myth, “eating fat makes you fat.” Snack foods that replaced fat with high sugar took a rise. In the late 90s, we had a major discovery: high sugar makes you insanely hungry for more sugar. The solution was to, instead, eat healthy (unsaturated) fats. These include nuts, flax, chia, seeds, wild salmon, sardines, and avocado, or supplements like fish oil, DHA, EPA, and ALA.
Finally, we have the macro that many people seem to associate with health: protein. Protein can come from meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, vegan sources (like rice and beans), and protein powder supplements.
Conquering the munchies begins with knowing which macro you are eating; the next step is a strategic placement throughout the day.
Begin by editing your breakfast and last snack or meal of the day. The first and last meal of the day gives rise to your body’s expectations of what it will signal for next. Have you ever had a syrup-drenched pancake for breakfast? While it might be delicious, what happens in the next two hours? Are you exhausted and craving sugar? Ever have a solo scoop of whey protein for breakfast? Chances are your munchies are back in an hour.
Now, what happens when we transform that breakfast and evening snack? Start with a veggie or fruit, protein, and serving of healthy fat. Here’s an example: a hard-boiled egg with an apple and a few almonds. How do you feel two hours later?
Next, look at the rest of your day. Are you distributing each macro type evenly throughout the day, or are you consuming only one macro at a time? For example, if you eat all of your carbs for breakfast, all of your fats for snacks, and all of your protein for dinner, work to distribute your intake evenly throughout the day instead.
Still have the munchies? Try a few substitutions.
Chips are salty and crunchy, but you can replace them with celery and/or carrots and a dollop of hummus. Keep in mind, if you perform high-intensity workouts or sweat a lot during the day, you might need to incorporate an electrolyte replacement drink or supplement to prevent a potential night-time, salt-seeking habit.
If you crave nuts, there’s a good chance you are skipping out on distributing small quantities of good fats throughout your day. Often the EPA and DHA are missing. Many people need to supplement their Omega 3s, simply because they don’t consume food sources that include them.
If you’re into cereal, cookies, and ice cream, it’s time to get creative. Many sugar cravers find success in turning protein powders into look-alike cookie dough, pudding, pancakes, or waffles. There are plenty of free protein powder recipes on the web and even on this website, including chocolate protein cake, no-bake protein bites, and a double-chocolate protein shake.
In short, try these three steps:
- Include all of the macros for each meal.
- Space each macro evenly throughout the day, forming small meals.
- Try nutrient-rich substitutes, instead of deprivation or caving into the munchie at hand.
If you want to talk to someone about your nutrition goals, visit your local NUTRISHOP® location and speak with an experienced nutrition coach today!