Questions about snacking are perhaps one of the most common queries we get here at RwL. Every day we get bombarded with questions like :
Am I allowed to snack? What are healthy Snacks? Why do I snack more at certain times? How can I stop myself snacking?
No problem! Let's start off with explaining that of course you are allowed to snack. Snacks are only a small part in the huge complex area of weight loss.
Ultimately if snacking can help you comply with a diet that provides a caloric deficit then snacking can be extremely useful. However, the basic rules still apply as if you're overeating, then of course it will make you gain weight.
If you eat too many calories, regardless of why you overate, you will gain fat. That's why overeating remains a key concept for understanding body fatness. [1&2] If you're overeating, it is important to understand why you may overeat. This doesn't mean you can't snack in a calorie aware diet, and in fact snacking can actually make it easier to adhere to some diet plans, but you must always be aware of the big picture.
Top tips on snacking:
- Out of sight = out of mind. We are essentially creatures of habit and especially when times get busy we will often go for the item of most convenience. Research again tells us that we will reach for the most convienient item, even having one box of sugared cereal easily visible means on average we would weight 21 pounds more than someone who didn’t have these or had them hidden away.  If it’s a fizzy drink we are talking about, the difference here is those who have these easily accessible will on average weight 39 pounds more! Cookies and crisps easily available equals 10 pounds more. Of interest is that those who have a bowl of fresh fruit visible actually weight 7 pounds less! Keep those processed treats well out of the way, or even better not there at all.
- Plate size. It’s been shown time and time again that plate size influences how much we eat. Switching from a 12 inch plate to a 10 inch plate equals a saving of 60 calories a day. 420 calories a week. 1680 calories a month and so on... A very clever study showed that even nutritional experts fall prey to these subconscious clues, a gathering showed that those who were given bigger spoons ate 14% more of the desserts offered. 
- Protein. If a desire to snack is required, use this as an opportunity to get more protein in. Protein is associated with more satiety so a protein rich snack may be an easy way to help you feel fuller without damaging the calorie count, and ensuring you are getting closer to protein goals.
- Alcohol. Be very mindful of alcohol, not only is it an easy way to take in empty calories but it tends to “loosen behaviour” which can destroy a lot of good work over the period of a week. As little as 500ml daily of beer has been positively associated with weight gain, wine may perhaps be a better choice, and again in a tall thin glass will trick you into thinking you’ve drank more
- "Hara Hachi Bu". The Okinawarian’s in Japan have a phrase called “Hara Hachi Bu”, which is a method of mindful eating. It loosely translates to stopping eating when you are 80% full. When people tend to do this and get on with other activities, they seem to feel as satisfied as those who have eaten to complete full capacity. Note the Okinawarian’s are a Blue Zone group, meaning they are a select group of people known for their longevity, they seem to live long and healthy lives, so they must be doing something right!
- Sleep. Research is clear that poor sleep will affect your appetite. Sleep is extremely beneficial for many aspects of health however we tend to not prioritize this for weight loss, yet sleep probably has a much larger impact on weight management that you’d ever expect, those who don’t sleep well eat a lot more the next day.
- Stress. Like Sleep Stress is a universal health issue. If you are highly stressed all the time it will impact on your ability to make good decisions regarding your weight management programs, people who are highly stressed are more likely to comfort eat as an example (which is why it’s so important to manipulate your environment!). Also stress can negatively affect your training, affect your sleep which can impact on your recovery and appetite. Think about ways how you can manage stress better in your life, perhaps try some of our more relaxing workouts and find what you enjoy that helps calm things down.
- Consistency. Whether it is exercise, what you are eating, sleep hygience, manipulating your environment etc What works for you will be unique for you. You must take time to work out what you can be consistent with. All the tips given above are excellent but if you simply have no smaller plates or are unable to eat any less food then this simply will not work. Consistency is the greater predictor of any weight loss program, you MUST be able to maintain changes over a period of time, otherwise it simply doesn’t work. Manipulate things to work for you.
So snacking, there you go! It’s up to you to manipulate your environment which healthy, filling snacks that contribute to the big picture of your weight loss journey, avoiding the pitfalls of your chimp brain and battling through your set point along the way.
We are here to help every step of the way, especially considering we have over 1000+ workouts for you to try and 600+ recipes to fill yourself up with! We currently have a 10 day free trial so click here to get started.
3. Guyenet, S. J. (2017). The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts that Make us Overeat, Vermilion, Ebury Publishing, London, UK.
4. Schlam, T. R., Wilson, N. L., Shoda, Y., Mischel, W. and Ayduk, O. (2013). Preschoolers Delay Gratification Predicts Their Body Mass 30 Years Later, Journal of Pediatrics, 162(1), P90-93.
5. Peters, S. (2012). The Chimp Paradox; the Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness, Vermilion, Ebury Publishing, Croydon, UK.
7. Wansink, B. (2016). Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, Noting Hill Gate, London, UK.