3 times a day….6 times a day….grazing….nibbling…how often are we supposed to eat?
There is a lot of opinion out there on “the best way” to eat.
But when it comes to losing weight, controlling blood sugars and keeping your energy up, the research – and my own experience – makes it clear:
Super Snacks can make a HUGE difference.
Here’s what I mean:
From the context of blood sugar control, snacking can help reduce the strain on your pancreas.
And being kind means to not over-exert it by demanding too much of it at once.
For example, consuming a lot of carbohydrates at once vs. the same amount of carbohydrates over a period of time doesn’t demand as much from this important organ.
We need to let the pancreas “do it’s thing” and allow it some rest in between working so hard for us to control blood sugars.
And from a weight control standpoint, if done right, snacking can help you lose weight – and keep it off.
This weight loss – even a small amount – also helps your body control blood sugars.
So if the pancreas can start producing insulin if you lose weight, this of course brings up the question:
How many times a day should I eat to lose weight?
It’s truly a “million dollar question”.
Crack this code and you’re off to the races!
My short answer is: 4-5 times per day.
The start of my long answer is actually a question:
What are you trying to achieve? What is the outcome you’re striving for?
Because for you, it might be different than your neighbour, the gal at the coffee shop or your friendly telemarketer.
To generalize to weight loss, from the decade I’ve been helping people lose weight, most of the people that lose weight and keep it off, eat more than 3 times a day and less than 6 times a day.
But how and why does eating more often work?
Well, here are my Top 4 Ways Snacks Can Help You Lose Weight (And Never Find It Again):
Number 1: Snacking Prevents Hulk-Like Hunger
A major reason why so many of us over-eat at meals is…HUNGER!
You know that hunger.
The kind that makes you want to eat anything in site N.O.W!
As my husband refers to it, I’m like Bruce Banner: If you don’t get me some food, I’ll go Hulk on you!
Slight exaggeration but you get the point.
This brings up another concept that I talk to my clients about a lot:
“Ruin Your Appetite for Supper”
So against what your momma taught you, hey?
But here’s why I think this a worthwhile concept to consider:
Going into supper hungry is a recipe for disaster with a capital “D”.
I always make sure my clients are well fuelled throughout the day so they don’t succumb to the gnawing hunger that can cause you to eat 3 plates of pasta and 6 cups of milk in 4 minutes flat.
Including healthy snacks strategically throughout the day will help quell any Hulk-like hunger in you and make sure you don’t go crazy-bananas comes suppertime.
Click here to grab my list of 65 Super Slimming Snacks!
Number 2: Snacking Keeps You From Feeling Deprived
There’s nothing like being on the diet and deprivation cycle to keep someone feeling chained to the idea that restriction and willpower is the way to lose weight.
I reject that idea – and get my clients too as well.
I know it goes against the story of what a lot of us has been “sold on” but it’s the truth:
You don’t need to rely on willpower to lose weight.
And snacking helps free you that deprivation cycle.
I’ve heard it time and time again: “I’m eating more and losing weight!”
What a great feeling, right?
This is because the person decided to reject the idea that only through struggle and deprivation can we lose weight.
So many of my clients feel like they’re “eating all the time”!
Of course, they’re eating mostly whole-foods that are healthy for them and they feel great.
And they don’t feel deprived because they get to eat so often.
Plus, they start losing weight because they create a caloric deficit in a smart and sustainable way.
Number 3: Snacking Gives You Major Nutrition
Super Slimming Snacks are an opportunity to get in some major nutrition – whether it’s fibre, protein, healthy carbs, vitamins, minerals – the list goes on.
Think of snacks like a chance to get some health-benefits from whole food that you may have missed at your last meal.
Using a whole-food approach to prediabetes reversal and weight loss is a huge part of what I do and how I get my clients to think about their food.
Need more ideas for whole-food snacks that are simple yet healthy?
Using snacks as a chance to boost your nutrition helps to keep you brimming with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other bioactive compounds in foods that we don’t even know about yet!
That is a whole-food approach: the whole is truly bigger and more impactful than simply the sum of it’s parts.
Or in the case of nutrition and food, the whole-food approach recognizes that there are ways in which foods protect us from disease and support optimal health that we can’t yet name but we know they are there.
Number 4: Snacking Can Help Re-Train Your Satiety Signals
So many people I work with have lost or are unable to respond to, their hunger and fullness signals from their own body.
For example, they start to eat a meal but after a while are still eating because they have no strong internal gauge about when they should stop eating.
When we eat, there are hormones – like leptin – that tell our brain when we’ve had enough and our brain is told that we’re full or satisfied.
However, in some people, these signals are not strong enough to do their job.
So the signal is either blunted (not as strong) or the person hasn’t been listening to it and really can’t tell when they’re hungry and when they’re full.
Especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
In my own practice, I have found that snacking is a huge part of helping people get these signals back.
It is part of a larger process of course and not a “quick fix” but over time, with an intentional eating plan, the signals can return.
Typically in my experience with clients, this intention eating plan involves reducing the size of meals and introducing small “super snacks” between those meals.
It also involves journaling and a commitment to become more aware of what their body is trying to tell them.
Over time, with intentional eating and tracking of hunger and fullness, slowly, internal mechanisms for hunger and satiety can return. There is a lot of fascinating research going on in this area.
Number 5: Snacking Makes Sure You Don’t Have an After Dinner Mindless Munch Fest
Not eating enough during the day is a great way to continue to crave those missing calories at the end of the day.
The way I see it, is that the body and mind are two incredible forces.
And if we don’t provide the body with the proper fuel from mostly whole-food sources, the brain will inevitably make sure the body gets what it needs.
However, in this day and age, we live in a society where cheap and highly-refined carbohydrates are readily available and our brains know there are chips on the top shelf of that pantry (you bought them for the kids) and ice cream in the freezer (in case guests come over!)
So if you under eat during the day, you will often be forced to rely on willpower to avoid temptations during Hawaii Five-O.
Having those Super Slimming Snacks at optimal times during the day makes sure you are meeting your body’s needs and eliminates the need for you to rely on willpower to avoid unhealthy treats in the evening due to low calorie intake during the day.
Disclaimer: Don’t fall into this trap:
Mindlessly snacking on high-calorie foods will not help you lose weight or prevent type 2 diabetes (of course.)
Be very choosy about what you choose to snack on and keep it to around 200 calories.
All the snacks in my list of 65 Super Slimming Snacks are under 200 calories and provide a mix of healthy carbs, fibre and protein.
The bottom line is this:
Super Snacking and providing steady healthy and whole-food fuel (ie, carbs, fibre, protein) into your body can help decrease the strain on your pancreas to produce so much insulin at one time and this may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Super Snacking can also prevent you from Hulk-like Hunger, which helps you keep your portions at your mealtimes reasonable so you don’t over do it and end up taking in more calories than you need.
In all my years as a dietitian, the most common problem I see is people not getting enough of the GOOD stuffs – that healthy, whole food day in and day out.
Starting to look at snacks as an opportunity to get some major nutrition into your diet is a winning mindset to have.
If you ever feel like you just can’t stop eating after supper or you’re constantly hungry, Super Snacks could be just what you need.
Grab my list of 65 Super Slimming Snacks so you have lots of ideas!