To Snack or not to Snack

There is so much conflicting information that gets banded about on diet, and one area that causes confusion is whether we should snack between meals. It is frequently cited as being the cause of weight gain by those who think we shouldn’t and we are made to feel guilty for giving in.

I would completely endorse that sentiment if what you are snacking on is biscuits, chocolate bars and crisps but if you eat sensibly then whether you snack or not depends on your individual metabolism as well as the type of diet consumed.

If you eat a reasonably high protein diet or one such as the paleo diet than you will have far less need to snack. Protein, fats and fibre all keep you full longer and high protein diets are usually quite high in fat too. I rarely snack if I have been out for a meal at lunchtime that contains fish or meat as I find that such meals usually contain far more protein and far fewer vegetables or salad than I would eat at home.

If you are vegetarian or vegan or like me enjoy your meat or fish but in smaller portions, then you may need to snack mid-meal as the food will travel through your system more quickly. It’s one of the reasons that these type of diets are thought to be more healthy as food doesn’t hang around too long in the digestive tract where it can putrefy.

If by mid-afternoon the food you have eaten has been digested either because of the meals you have chosen or because you have a fast metabolism then if you don’t snack the body runs short of energy. This causes a stress on the body and a release of stress hormones to mobilise stored sugar. Creating stress hormones is not good for the body and leads to a myriad of other health problems. So if you need to snack, do so. Choose sensible snack food and don’t feel guilty.