Should we snack between meals?
Eating three square meals a day used to be the catch-cry in years gone by. All of the current research puts this to bed, in favour of 5 smaller meals per day or 3 small meals & 2 planned snacks. However you label it, grazing through the day is the very best nutritional practice for several reasons.
Eating more frequently throughout the day (roughly every 3 hours):
- Revs up your metabolism and forces you to burn body fat. If we have gaps of up to 6 hours between meals our metabolism feels the need to slow down to conserve energy for later.
- Allows your uptake of nutrients to be more evenly spread. Eating protein at each small meal with 1-2 serves of low GI carbs per day, will keep energy and blood sugar levels even, and mood more consistent throughout the day.
- Enables better opportunities to fuel up before exercise, so there is something in the tank and after exercise, to maximise recovery. Both are important if you are looking to improve fitness & strength and to optimise your health.
Encouraging snacking is not open license for junk food and poor choices. It is important to include quality lean protein with each small meal (and/or snack) as well as some low GI carbohydrates each day. (For example: vegetable sticks with homemade homous, or nuts & seeds, or Greek yoghurt with nuts)
There is no need to panic about the extra time needed to prepare daily for these extra small meals, because you can always cook more food for a particular meal, which can then become “left-overs” or what I like to call “planned-overs” for the next day’s meals.