There are a number of question marks over how much and how often to eat during the day for an efficient metabolism and a healthy weight. Is snacking going to boost your metabolism or slow it down? When should you be snacking? How large should your snacks be? What snacks are going to be the most nourishing for your metabolism? Let’s delve in…
Is snacking going to boost your metabolism?
As a general rule, the efficiency of your metabolism is not dependent on your snacking tendencies. Whether you’re eating three large meals a day with no snacks, seven smaller meals or three meals plus plenty of snacking, it doesn’t really matter. There is a common misconception that eating smaller meals or regularly snacking throughout the day will boost your metabolism and help with weight loss because it keeps your metabolism constantly ticking over. While this makes sense, there is no hard evidence that presents a correlation between snacking, an efficient metabolism and weight loss.
What we do know is that all food has a slight thermogenic effect in your body, therefore calories can be burnt in the process of digesting food. However, if you are snacking on not-so-nourishing foods, this effect can be entirely reversed therefore it is important to think about what you are snacking on rather than when and how much.
How to snack the “healthy” way:
Snacking, of course, is an individual preference and you should listen to your body as to how often you want to snack. The intention of a snack is to provide your body with extra nourishing energy, if you’re feeling a little hungry, that will see you through until the next mealtime.
Snacks that are free of refined sugar and have a good balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat are ideal. The carbs will give you an immediate energy booster, the protein will provide sustained energy that will kick in a little later, and the fats will help fill you up and perhaps add a little extra nutrition and flavour also. A fibrous snack is also a great choice, helping to enhance your feeling of fullness and satisfaction.
Should you snack post-dinner/pre-bedtime?
The right bedtime snack can keep your metabolism running into the night and may even help you find sleep by stimulating serotonin, your “sleepy” hormone. The “right” snack would include healthy fats and some carbs with little protein and energy so you aren’t too alert. Examples of nourishing bedtime snacks include walnuts, almonds, chickpeas and of course you can’t beat a little herbal tea, such as peppermint or chamomile, to ease your way into sleepy mode.
Healthy Snack Suggestions:
• A yummy combination of nuts & seeds
• An apple or pear with a lashing of nut butter
• Kale chips
• Roasted chickpeas
• Fresh or frozen berries with your choice of yoghurt (our choice would be coconut yoghurt!)
• Chia, hemp or flaxseed crackers topped with nut butter
• Additive- and preservative-free popcorn