Why is it important to have snacks between meals?

Many people mistakenly think it’s a “bad habit” to eat between meals. Actually, however, studies show that people tend to have more control over their eating and have an easier time losing or maintaining their weight when they eat healthy snacks between meals, including during the Weight Loss phase of the program, as well as for Lifetime Maintenance.

The “key” is to make the snack a healthy, beneficial one. The value of having a healthy, protein-based snack between meals is two-fold. First, it helps keep the metabolism up for greater fat burning. When a person goes for more than a few hours without eating, the metabolism temporarily lowers and the body tends to conserve calories rather than burning them. It’s part of the body’s primitive survival mechanism to prevent starvation. Think of healthy snacking like adding wood to a fire — without the proper amount of fuel, the fire doesn’t burn.

Secondly, eating regular, healthy snacks helps prevent hunger and cravings that can set you up for overeating. People who have a protein-based snack between meals are less likely to overeat at mealtimes and later in the evening. They are also less likely to “give in” to temptation and eat the first Twinkie that they come across, so to speak!

The Lean for Life menu includes three healthy protein-based snacks a day, but some people, especially those who are physically active or larger, need to consume more than three a day for adequate energy and to prevent hunger and cravings.