I enjoy a nice snack. Or rather, it’s more appropriate to say that sometimes I enjoy a snack. The reality being, I rarely ever need one because I always answer hunger with a meal.
Let me say that again, because it’s an important departure from the eating paradigm we’ve been programmed to accept:
I always answer hunger with a meal!
Typically, we’re told to eat 3 main meals with snacks in-between. The message is further reinforced with the statement that we must eat 5-6 small meals a day.
I don’t know about you, but I love food, I love to eat, and I love feeling satisfied. Multiple teeny-tiny meals neither satisfy me, gratify me, or fuel my activity levels. In fact, following this approach, I was constantly starving and as soon as I’d finished my last mouthful, began looking forward to the next feed.
It drove me crazy, and it’s easy to see how we can get obsessed over food, as it dominates so much of your conscious thought.
Honestly, I find it beyond tedious to have to plan that many meals. And it’s also one of the big reasons why people make poor food choices based upon easy availability:
When you’re tied into this multi-meal eating pattern, it’s way too easy to simply reach out for whatever’s convenient. And it’s usually crap!
Operating at Maximum Capacity:
Think about it for a moment: how luminous is a torch when the batteries are only half-way charged? It doesn’t shine anywhere near as bright as when those batteries are fresh; causing frustration as it inevitably fades and can’t light your path the way you need it to.
This is exactly what we do to ourselves by having small meals and multiple snacks. We never fully charge our batteries and don’t have nearly as much energy as we could obtain from a satisfying and nutrient-dense meal.
Think Optional, Not Inevitable:
Of-course, having a snack isn’t bad by any means. Though it ought to go without saying that a chocolate bar, or other such lazy option, doesn’t qualify as a good choice.
Even a poorly-timed piece of sweet fruit can spike insulin when you least need it.
Therefore, think of snacks as being optional, rather than inevitable. Some days you might need some extra energy; most days you can coast through without even thinking about food.
The way to achieve this is by planning to meet all your nutritional needs via your main meals. Whether you’re happiest following the traditional model of eating three times a day, or you eat only twice within a compressed feeding window – typical of an approach that includes intermittent fasting – the fact remains that snacking ought to be used sparingly and only when appropriate.
Flexibility is Key:
To illustrate my point, here’s a personal example:
On the day I write this piece, I will be training legs. It’s going to be a hard and probably lengthy session. Now as I’m fully fat-adapted (my body is geared towards burning fat over carbohydrates) I have the option of training in a fasted state – having not eaten since 7pm last night.
However, when I awoke this morning, I was starving-hungry! For me, this is a no-brainer: I’m gonna eat!
Feeling fully fuelled, I know I’m going to have a great session. I also know that with so many nutrients in my system, I’m not going to feel like eating until at least mid-afternoon. I certainly won’t want a snack.
Had I not eaten appropriately this morning, when my body was clearly craving nutrients, then my workout would’ve been a waste of time and I’d have placed undue stress on my central nervous-system.
When I next feel hungry, I will eat a full meal. I can’t say exactly what time that will be, but I do know exactly how many calories and how much protein, fat and carbs it will contain. Today, given my activity level, I’ll eat three times. Tomorrow will most likely be only twice. I will not snack.
The other upside to not snacking, is that it saves money that can subsequently be re-invested into buying quality food. A pound saved on a chocolate bar will make it possible to buy that nicer cut of meat without breaking your budget.
Taking such a flexible and relaxed approach to eating creates an effortless relationship with food where you:
- are no longer confined to conventional eating times
- don’t feel constantly hungry
- are able to budget more efficiently
- never find yourself clock-watching until the next snack-break
- feel more energised
- don’t place your digestive-system under constant stress
- can easily up-regulate your body’s ability to burn fat.
I ask you: What’s not to like about that?
Read more: Fat loss stall? Try Eating More!