British Red Tractor Assurance is available on selected products.

Our high welfare British Veal is RSPCA Assured.


To snack or not to snack?

By Sam Whitaker

  • Should you eat between meals? Is it best to eat little & often to keep your metabolism firing?
  • I'd put good money on it that most people eat some sort of snack(s) throughout the day.
  • Whether that's between every meal, or just every now and again.
  • If this is a good thing or not depends on the person and their goals.

Below, I will make a case for both snacking and not snacking, and you can see which best fits you & your current situation.

Snacking

The main benefit of snacking, as I see it, is to stop you from getting so hungry that you want to raid the vending machine or grab some shockingly calorific junk food.

For some, going 4-6 hours without eating anything seems unfeasible and they feel they need something to snack on in between.

And this can be fine, providing you don't mindlessly eat.

If eating a small snack curbs your hunger enough to prevent the vending machine raid, then this is a good thing.

If this is you, then you should probably consume small snacks in between meals.

Snacking 1

Just make sure you have some healthy snacks at hand so you don't have to resort to the Mars bar & Doritos option.

Some healthy snack ideas include; beef jerky, handful of nuts, protein bar, Greek yoghurt, small piece of fruit or berries, hard boiled eggs, (providing you don't mind risking stinking out the office ;)).

Another situation where snacking might not only be OK but even necessary is for someone who is struggling to eat enough calories to fuel muscle mass gains or sports performance.

If you restricted yourself to just three main meals, then they might have to be so big that it'd be tough to get enough calories in without feeling bloated & uncomfortable afterwards.

Not snacking

I see the main benefit of not snacking, is limiting the risk of you mindlessly eating.

It's well documented that most people are terrible at recalling what they've eaten the previous day, with any degree of accuracy.

Even nutritionists have been shown to struggle with this.

I have a feeling that it's the snacking in between meals that most people forget about, rather than the main meals.

Personally, I like to have set times to eat and I rarely eat outside those times.

I have breakfast around 7am, lunch at 12.30pm, a mid-afternoon/pre-workout snack at 3.30pm and my evening/post workout meal about 7.00pm.

This makes it a lot easier for me to stay on track and stop me from endlessly snacking on things. It's not that there's anything magic about eating at these times, they just fit my schedule and therefore help me stay on track.

Not Snacking

So if you do feel better eating 4-5 times a day, instead of the 3 main meals, I'd recommend having some sort of pre-planned meal and set time you eat, if possible.

This will help prevent the grazing from happening.

The danger of snacking is that you can fall into the trap of just picking at stuff all day. You're just constantly grazing.

A slice of toast mid-morning, a cereal bar here, a Mars bar there, they all contribute to your daily calorie total, yet many people will easily forget what and how much they've actually eaten.

If this sounds familiar, and you're struggling to lose weight, despite 'eating healthy', it could be your snacking that's preventing you from losing weight.

Plan some recipes and make things easier for yourself!

You do not need to eat little & often

If you've read my 12 Common Nutrition Myths post, you'll know that the 'eat little & often' thing is a myth.

Your body is quite capable of going 4-6 hours without food.

'Oh, but I would get really hungry if I didn't eat my mid-morning & mid-afternoon snacks' I hear you say.

Well let me ask you this… Is it really that you're hungry, or are you just bored? Or thirsty?

You do not need to eat little and often

There's a difference between psychological hunger and actual physiological hunger.

I bet most people will rarely get to real, physiological hunger. Psychological hunger will rear its head before many feel actual, real hunger.

Another thing I'll put out there, is that if you were to increase your protein intake at each meal, you would stay fuller for longer.

It's well proven that protein rich foods are the most satiating, which is why they're so beneficial when trying to lose weight.

They're not just for guys trying to pack on muscle!

So, to snack or not to snack??

For most people, I would say not to, particularly if you're trying to lose weight.

This isn't an absolute, across the board recommendation by any means. But for most of the general public, I feel they'd do better not snacking, or at least having pre planned food and set times they eat, if possible.

The likelihood of constantly picking at stuff and grazing all day is pretty high.

So, by just sticking to your 3-4 pre-planned meals, you're less likely to eat things and forget you've eaten them, which should ultimately lead to you eating fewer calories, (hopefully).

If you eat a high protein meal at breakfast, lunch & dinner you won't be that hungry anyway. Or at least not get as hungry until it's about time for your next meal anyway.

So, to snack or not to snack??

However, if you've good control over your food intake and aren't likely to continue picking at food all day, then snacking may well be fine.

Also, if you're goal is to build muscle or you're focussed on sports performance, not only will snacking likely be OK but it may be required to ensure you're consuming adequate calories.

Jamie Lloyd

About Sam

29-year-old Sam Whitaker is a Fitness & Nutrition Consultant and Co-Founder & Director of Body Target Ltd.

Over the past 5-6 years, he has been self-educating on all things health and fitness by reading textbooks, online articles and books by people such as Lyle McDonald and Alan Aragon. He has also just started The SBS Academy - an evidence based online training and nutrition course.

You can find out more about Sam by checking out his Facebook and Twitter feeds, or Body Target’s Facebook and Twitter.

Acheive your Gym Goals
Whether your motivation is to get lean, build muscle or simply improve your health, it is inevitable for many of us will hit some hurdles when it comes to diets. 
See more here...
Roxy Winstanley
Simon Ducker has gone through a complete transformation into bodybuilding brilliance!
Read now...
a no nonsense pure protein punch you can drink
FINALLY a no nonsense pure protein punch you can drink with 55g protein, 2g fat and just 1g carbs!
What's not to love?