Does Snacking Help or Hinder Weight Loss?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • A recent study that looked at the association between snacking, weight loss and nutrient intake among overweight and obese postmenopausal women trying to diet, found that snacking may not always be helpful and may, in fact, push weight higher.

     

    There has been ongoing discussion over decades as to whether a rigid diet of just 3 meals a day, 3 meals and one or two snacks, or small mini meals every few hours, is the best approach to weight loss. The answer actually depends quite a bit on weight loss goals, personality, and some other variables. All dietary approaches are not good fits for all people who need to lose weight. Add in serious weight issues and an older female population, who no longer menstruates and the diet programs that involve snacking may not be a good idea. Why not?

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    Well first of all not all snacks are created equal from a calorie or quality perspectives. Also, many of us tend to get a bit blurry when we snack and instead of grabbing a specific 100 calorie yogurt or handful of nuts, we instead nibble for awhile. That nibbling can easily hit the 200 or 300 calorie mark which is closer to a meal and not a snack. Some of us also lose track of just how many snacks we are actually eating - a grabbed handful at someone's desk, a vending machine treat, a coffee drink with cream and sugar and a cookie or two, several handfuls of dried fruit and nuts - and suddenly your snacks for the day total 1000 extra calories or even more. Also remember that metabolic rates slow down once you go into menopause, and if you are not doing serious weight training several times a week, to maintain muscle mass, your calorie needs have diminished a bit. So still eating three meals and some snacks may be way off the mark in terms of total calories needed. In fact, it may be serious overkill. You may actually need to eat no snacks and 3 very calorie conscious meals, or consider splitting one meal into two small feedings and then have two other small, nutrient dense meals. I know it sound unfair but it is your new reality!!

     

    So even though no dietician or nutritionist recommends that you go many hours without eating, you need to tread carefully when adding in snacks. You may think you deserve them, but this research suggests that snacks are not "a given" when it comes to a weight loss program.

Published On: December 12, 2011