SNACK ATTACK: THE BEST TIMES TO SNACK
For most of us, we have set times of the day that we tend to snack, the 11 o'clock stomach rumble, right after lunch or just before bedtime? Snacking habits are easy to fall in to and heaven forbid we should actually miss a snack time! But what actually is the best time of day to snack, and could this affect weight loss efforts?
Calorie Deficit The first thing to keep in mind is your goals. If you are looking to lose weight then you should be aiming to stick to a calorie deficit. In theory as long as the snacks you eat stay within your daily calorie allowance then it shouldn’t matter what time of day you eat them. However, it is easy to forget about the odd snack here and there, especially if you are already feeling hungry which can lead to overeating. That is why if you are on a weight loss journey, it can help to keep a diary of everything that you eat and drink just until you are in a better daily routine and are able to track your calories. Apps such as My Fitness Pal are great to help keep you on track!
A study carried out by The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that dieters that ate a mid-morning snack between breakfast and lunch were more likely to snack later in the day too, they also lost 4% less weight in a year than those that skipped a mid-morning snack, suggesting that the additional snacks throughout the day were totting up their daily calories! If you find yourself reaching for a mid-morning treat it could be that your breakfast has not done its job of keeping you full until lunch. Try making your own porridge which is high in high protein and fibre. To your oat mean add: chia, protein powder and flaxseeds. This will help you stay fuller for longer and cut out the mid-morning munchies! Another alternative to cutting out the mid-morning snack is intermittent fasting. The 16/8 fasting method is becoming more and more popular which involves eating during an eight-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours, for example limiting eating between the hours of 11am and 7pm. The thought of pushing breakfast back a few hours may seem daunting, however intermittent fasting has shown many positive effects including supporting weight loss, as the window for eating is reduce which should make it easier to remain within your daily calorie allowance (and also cut out longer periods between meals when you may get tempted to snack). It has also been shown to improve blood sugar, boost brain function and increase energy.
Night Time Snacking
Snacking too close to to bed has been linked to weight gain. Eating the wrong foods before you start to snooze can lead to a restless sleep, which sets you up for fatigue and reaching for comfort foods the next day. However, hitting the sheets with a growling stomach isn’t going to give you the peace you need either, so what are the best snacks to eat if you find yourself with hunger pangs? Opt for low calorie options, higher in fibre and protein to keep you satisfied. Some examples include an apple with almond or cashew butter, crunchy carrot sticks at only 8 cals a carrot, fat free Greek yoghurt with a scoop of protein powder.
I usually take Casein an hour before bed. It is a slow-digesting dairy protein which I take as a supplement. It releases amino acids slowly, taking it before bed to help with recovery and reduce muscle breakdown while I sleep.