Fight 3 p.m. Hunger With This Smarter Snack

As runners, we typically feel the hunger pangs more frequently than our nonrunning counterparts. Rather than ignoring the grumbles and trying to hold out until your next meal, try saving your sanity by reaching out for a smarter snack.

I think a lot of us shy away from “snacks” for fear of overdoing it and indulging in too much fat, sugar, and processed treats, which is definitely a possibility. But snacks can actually be a great strategy to improve your nutrition intake. They can help you both maintain energy throughout the day and eat more portioned servings at meal time. To avoid the snacking pitfalls and temptations, though, stock your house or office with healthy options.

One of my favorite go-to afternoon snacks is popcorn. Although popcorn can be loaded with excess fat from added butter and oil, it doesn’t have to be to still be delicious. In fact, when done right, it can be one of your smartest snacking choices. It’s whole grain, low in kilojoules, high in fibre, and a great source of antioxidants. Without adding lots of excess butter, you can get a satisfying boost of flavour and some healthy fats.

Below is a simple, quick recipe for really yummy popcorn. You can either add healthy fat from oils such as flax, walnut, or coconut, which will give you a little flavour and satiety boost (which I recommend) or keep it plain and “air pop” the kernels. Once popped, the topping options are endless. I’ve included a few of my go-to favorites, too.

When buying corn, try to choose organic, non-GMO kernels. You can pop a large batch at home and portion it out for your family to take to work and school. Or, if you’re home on the weekend or at night, make a big batch to share in the moment. If you have a microwave at work, you can also do it there by bringing your ingredients with you.

And, for reference, ¼ cup unpopped popcorn is a good snack size serving, clocking in under 628 kilojoules (before toppings). If you don’t plan to add toppings such as oil or cheese, you may want to increase your serving. Let your stomach be the judge 🙂

Basic Popcorn
(serves 1)
¼ cup popcorn kernels (organic, non-GMO)
1 brown paper lunch-sized bag
2 teaspoons coconut, flax, or walnut oil (after popping)

Add the kernels to a brown paper lunch bag. Fold the edge of the bag over to seal. Microwave on high for approximately two minutes, or until popping slows to about two seconds between pops (microwave time will vary depending on your appliance). Open bag to release steam. Pour in optional oil, shake and serve.

Popcorn Toppings
Coat with approximately one to two tablespoons of the following mixtures. Adding oil will help toppings stick. 

  • Nutritional yeast, dill, and salt (my favorite combo!)
  • Grated parmesan cheese, rosemary, salt, and pepper
  • Cinnamon and sugar (or honey)
  • Balsamic vinegar (good quality, thick)
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast), smoked paprika, chipotle powder, and lime juice
  • mini chocolate chips and salted peanuts

Popcorn is the perfect carbohydrate-rich snack for runners. Choose this snack especially if you’ve got an afternoon workout scheduled as it will be easy to digest and help fill your glycogen stores.

How do you enjoy your popcorn?


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