Up until quite recently, the conventional wisdom was that snacking between meals is good for you.
In fact, there are plenty or good reasons why sticking to your three meals a day is much better for you, and why the idea of snacking is flawed.
First of all, why is snacking bad?
Check out these reasons!
Know Why Snacking is Bad for Your Health
Causes Weight Gain
Every time we have a snack or a meal, our pancreas produces the hormone, insulin.
Foods are converted to sugar for use as fuel by our cells. Insulin’s job is to usher sugars from our blood stream into our cells.
Without insulin, we couldn’t get energy from food. However, the downside of insulin is that it causes the body to hang on to fat. The higher our insulin levels, the more our bodies want to store fat.
So the more often we eat, the more likely we are to put on weight, regardless of amount of calories.
You could argue that if we ate something that was mostly protein or fat, it would have a minimal effect on insulin. However, there are other good reasons for not eating anything at all between meals as we will see below.
Promotes Inflammation in the Body
If you’re a grazer, you will have constant insulin in the bloodstream. After a while, your cells become less responsive to insulin and it becomes harder for our cells to take up sugar.
This insulin resistance leads to inflammation in the body, which can increase your risk of chronic disease, especially diabetes.
Ruins “The Housekeeper”
Our bodies are very efficient at maintaining good health, given the right conditions. In our gut, we have a natural mechanism, nicknamed ‘the housekeeper’, where muscles in the gut contract and sweep bacteria and food particles through the gut every 40 minutes or so.
If you hear your stomach grumbling.
This is usually the housekeeper at work.
This mechanism only happens on an empty stomach. If we keep on eating, this housekeeper mechanism never has a chance to work. We are then more likely to suffer gut problems, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which is one of the most common causes of irritable bowel syndrome.
Damages Your Dental Health
Every time we eat, food particles get caught between teeth and stuck on teeth and gums. This promotes the growth of unwanted bacteria, which leads to plaque and tooth decay.
Why Should You Stick to 3-Meals Per Day?
Having just three meals a day at regular intervals has many benefits including:
- Weight loss – you feel less hungry over the day, you’re producing less insulin and are not adding extra calories from snacks
- Eating more healthily– snacks tend to be empty-caloried junk foods
- Decreased risk of dental caries
- Decreased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes
Best Ways to Avoid Snacking on Unhealthy Foods
Increase Your Protein Intake
The best way to avoid feeling hungry and reaching for a snack between meals is to make sure you have enough protein in every meal.
Protein foods include:
- Red meat and poultry
- Legumes (beans, peas and lentils)
Another excellent way to stay fuller for longer is to use protein powders.
Choose a whey protein, such as Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey, which provides 24 g of protein per serving. Or, if you are vegan or vegetarian, Body Science Clean Vegan Protein contains 30 g of protein per serving.
You can use these for a sustaining breakfast – add frozen fruit, avocado, cocoa and peanut butter to make it extra filling. Or have alongside a salad for an extra protein boost.
Eat More Dietary Fats
Adding plenty of good fats to meals will also help keep you going between meals. Good fats include cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil and butter (in moderation butter is good for you).
Make sure you have enough calories in every meal and that they are spread evenly over each meal. A piece of toast or a bowl of cereal for breakfast will be less than satisfying. Switch to a protein shake or bacon and eggs and some fruit.
Zero-Effort Intermittent Fasting
The added bonus of not snacking is that you have automatically built in intermittent fasting into your daily routine. If you eat your dinner at 6 pm then eat nothing until breakfast at 8 am, you will have fasted for 14 hours without trying.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to help you lose weight and lower cholesterol.
Don’t Skip Meals
Don’t be tempted to skip any meals. For those that eat fewer than three meals a day tend to be heavier than others, according to Harvard Medical School.
If you skip meals, you’re likely to overeat at the next one. You will produce stress hormones in response to hunger, which causes your insulin levels to rise. So your body will want to hang on to fat.