September 28, 2022 6 min read
Is snacking good for you? If so, what are the best times to do it?
The short answer is yes - snacking can be beneficial because it provides an energy boost and extra nutrients when you choose the right snacks and the right time to snack.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the best and worst times to snack as well as the best time to eat certain foods like nuts, chia seeds and carbs.
Let’s jump right in!
To put simply, the best times to snack are: 3 hours after your last main meal, 2 hours before the next meal (or going to bed), after a workout, or before going out.
But why is that? Let’s look at why those times are ideal for a snack.
If our stomach goes without food for more than 3 hours, our metabolism and blood sugar drops. So, choosing a protein-rich, fiber-packed snack low in sugar can be beneficial.
You can replenish your body with carbohydrates and protein after a long and intense workout.
According to scientists, skipping breakfast may make you hungrier and more likely to eat larger meals, which leads to a spike in blood sugar.
Furthermore, research has found that having a large breakfast, early lunch (before 3 pm), and early dinner (before 9 pm) can improve glucose tolerance and support weight loss.
You can eat a small snack before going out, in case you feel a little hungry. This will prevent you from taking something possibly unhealthy.
Even if you plan to eat something outside, a small snack can help you skip the calorie-loaded appetizers that can be tempting, especially if you feel starving.
People who snack between breakfast and lunch also tend to snack later in the day, which means more calories are added to their total intake.
Additionally, if your goal is to lose weight, a study found that weight loss was significantly lower among mid-morning snackers compared to non-mid-morning snackers.
To avoid snacking after breakfast, you can do the following:
If you are hungry, having a small snack, like a few pieces of fruit, is alright, at least 2 hours before bed.
However, if you create a late-night habit of snacking on unhealthy foods - that can be a problem.
To avoid late-night snacking:
One of the best times to consume nuts is in the morning, with breakfast. This can help you ward off fatigue and smoothly regulate blood pressure in your body.
You can also have nuts as a mid-day snack or even as a late-night snack.
A handful of nuts can satisfy cravings and hunger while inducing sleepiness.
That is because certain nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, contain melatonin - a hormone essential for a good night’s rest, and magnesium, which may help reduce insomnia in adults.
The recommended amount is one fist full of nuts; that’s about 20-25 nuts per day, which you can divide into two portions.
Chia seeds are incredible for a few reasons. First, they have high levels of fiber, calcium, protein and healthy fats, and magnesium that help to keep cortisol levels low and, in turn, uplifts your mood.
To get the most out of chia seeds, it is best to consume them in the morning, with water, on an empty stomach.
They will increase metabolism, support daily digestion, and improve bowel movement.
Chia seeds can also help and improve your sleep pattern if you consume them at night. Either way, chia has excellent benefits if consumed daily.
Carbohydrates are one of the big three macronutrients (macros), together with protein and fat.
Carbs are essential for your health; they are a primary source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and provide our body with energy.
Because carbohydrates turn into glucose or sugar in your body which is then converted into energy, it is best to eat meals rich in carbohydrates for breakfast and lunch.
This will provide you with long-lasting energy throughout the whole day.
If you have your biggest portion of carbs in the evening, this can cause a blood sugar spike.
Moreover, your body then stores the extra glucose you didn’t use for energy as body fat.
While the timing of eating snacks is essential, it is not as important as the kind of snacks you choose to consume.
As it turns out, quality matters most. For example, healthy snacks such as whole fruit and vegetables are associated with enhanced diet quality and positively impact body weight.
On the other hand, cakes, biscuits, sugary drinks, sweets, cookies, chips, ice cream, candy, popcorn, bread, etc. can lead to increased body weight and low quality of nutrients.
With that said, you should limit snacks that offer little nutrition but are high in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium.
Choose those high in fiber and protein, as they will keep you satisfied for longer.
Some of the best snacks you can choose from include:
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Many people snack at least once a day, so here are some additional and essential tips to take into consideration:
Snackingis associated with a more nutrient-dense diet, and itcan be health-promoting, but only if we do it with the right foods at the correct times.
These tips are general, but remember that one universal dietary recommendation regarding snacking and meal frequency is inappropriate for everyone.
Keep in mind that it’s essential to fuel your body when hungry with nutritious whole foods instead of mindlessly snacking on empty calories that don’t make you feel full.
Merilin is a 25-year-old imperfect zero waste advocate, passionate about sustainability, veganism, and living harmoniously with nature. In her free time, she loves developing recipes for healthy & vegan sweets, traveling, and practicing yoga.
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