Snacking Helps Balance Blood Sugar and Boosts Metabolism

March 2, 2011 No Comments by Scott Isaacs, M.D.

Healthy snacksOur ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors lived from moment to moment, often off whatever nuts and berries they came across in their daily search for food.  A big meal was a treat!  It’s only in modern times, when even our agriculture workers are governed by the time clock that we’ve focused on eating three big meals a day – giving us the morning and afternoon to work.

Snacking is a great way to balance your blood sugar because you don’t overwhelm your body with a lot of sugar all at one time.  Eating a huge portion of a so-called “healthy” food, such as beans or lentils, can prompt an insulin surge as easily as a Twinkie.  So, if you eat frequently throughout the day, you will provide a constant source of calories and energy to your body.  Once your body becomes accustomed to receiving a constant supply of food, metabolism will increase. On the other hand, if you eat less often, the body freaks out.  It thinks it’s starving and slows metabolism, putting the body into survival mode.

How blood sugar makes you feelWhat happens then?  You feel sleepy after a meal, and the food is turned into fat instead of burned as energy.  The body is conserving energy because even though it just got a huge meal; it is still in starvation mode and doesn’t know when the next meal is coming.  When you provide a continuous source of calories to the body in the form of small frequent meals, the body relaxes: it goes out of starvation mode and starts using the calories instead of storing them.  The result is less hunger, more energy and weight loss.

Snacking is a proven treatment for low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.  Patients with hypoglycemia are instructed to avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates and to eat small meals throughout the day.  Doing so prevents the insulin surge that comes with larger meals or high-glycemic foods, which in turn stops blood sugar from dropping in response to an insulin surge.  Snacking supplies the body with nutrients in a gradual fashion; in the way it handles them best.  The bottom line is that snacking is good.

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