Here’s what nutritionists now say about snacking…
SPONSORED: Written by Professor David Russell in partnership with Charlotte Harbour
Last month we spoke about how a nutrient-dense diet may help support mental health outcomes, especially anxiety, in terms of blood sugar regulation. We briefly touched upon snacking – and how that may no longer be an optimal solution. We’d love to discuss why we think this and what the new science says…
Cast your mind back a decade or two and regular snacking was dubbed as the solution for ‘speeding-up metabolism’, aiding weight loss and regulating blood sugar. Fast-forward to today and you’ll find new and emerging science and discussions turning this view on its head.
So, what’s the logic?
When you eat foods, specifically carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises in response and energy is available to you in the form of glucose (sugar). Your body subsequently releases insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down to your unique ‘version’ of ‘normal’. Constant snacking, even on healthy fruits (carbohydrates), can cause this process to happen multiple times per day (up to six if you snack between main meals).
What’s the problem with constant glucose and insulin spikes?
Constant glucose and insulin spikes can cause hormonal havoc. There are many links between blood sugar regulation and hormonal wellness
There are lots of theories and we’ll go through the top three:
- Constant snacking interrupts digestion of your breakfast, lunch or dinner – it can take up to six hours for your body to digest a
meal. Adding more food in when it’s not finished digesting the first meal can impact on energy levels and efficiency of nutrient breakdown.
- Constant glucose and insulin spikes can cause hormonal havoc. There are many links between blood sugar regulation and hormonal wellness.
- Enjoying three large meals a day instead of six small meals (for example) can help your body burn fat more effectively. This is especially helpful for those trying to lose excess weight or if you’ve ever had to skip a meal (such as a meeting running over lunch). You might just appreciate how effectively your body can switch to burning fat when lunch isn’t until 3pm!
What are some action points we can take home today?
● If you’re in need of a snack, opt for high-fat, healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, coconuts and eggs, ie avoid carbohydrates
● Ensure you are eating the same number of calories by enjoying substantial meals, less often
● Stay hydrated – most of us are guilty of forgetting to drink enough water!
If you’re interested in learning more, we encourage looking into the science and seeing if it’s right for you. It is not right for everyone. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and those with diabetes should work with a qualified healthcare or nutrition professional, if considering a dietary change.