Control your snacking

British Dietetic Association dietician Aisling Pigott on getting your snack balance right...

Spot snack times

Cyclists can see a surge in appetite for up to three days after a long race. Even if you’re trying to manage your weight, avoid overly extreme notions like stopping snacking altogether, but plan to have healthy balanced meals and snack options for when you need them. This prevents common cycles of guilt and overeating.

Stick to tea times

Never skip meals to lose weight. Regulating mealtimes in a routine prevents snacking as athletes feel more in control and ‘in tune’ with their hunger and satiety levels.

Be mindful and appreciative of what you’re eating too – turn off the TV and focus on your food and you’ll feel less likely to reach for the biscuit tin.

Select suitable snacks

On training days, snacks such as home-made banana bread (reduce the fat by replacing butter with apple puree in the recipe) or dried fruit are carb-filled for fuelling, but on non-exercise days, or for shorter rides, eat yoghurt and fruit for a quick energy boost without excessive calories.

Handy in the kitchen

Make sure meals contain starchy carbs, such as pasta, potato or rice, ideally in a portion about the size of your fist; protein from meat or pulses about the size of the palm of your hand and fruit and vegetables – ideally taking up about a third or more of your plate. This balance reduces the risk of snacking and overeating later in the day.

Use mind control

Psychological and practical prompts I use with athletes include: Stop using the word reduce – use the word control instead. Plan your snacks ahead of time to avoid guilt and don’t bring unhealthy snacks into the house to begin with. Remember that a craving only lasts for 20 minutes, so get out and do something before eating.