The Skinny on Snacking..Between Meal Snacking can Promote Fat Burning!

July 26, 2010….The Skinny on Snacking

As you know, The Metabolism Miracle is built around the mechanics of the healthy human body. We are working with our body instead of against its natural ebb and flow. I am often interviewed by magazines regarding “general” diet questions/concerns outside the realm of MM.  I thought I’d share my insights with my MM crew, and you’ll catch a glimpse of MM’s philosophy (the philosophy of a healthy body) in the explanation.

Snacking will help keep your Metabolic Rate in the HIGH zone all day long:

Metabolism is all the processes that keep your body alive. It accounts for most of your calorie requirement for the day. Metabolism includes all the underlying organ functioning….brain processing, heart beating, lungs breathing, intestines digesting, kidneys filtering, etc. If your body’s metabolic rate is fueled throughout the day with no down time…it functions longer on the HIGH setting. You will have more energy, your body will not function sluggishly, and your caloric burn will naturally be higher.

Most people don’t realize that energy food (carbohydrate) has a 4-5 hour “lifespan.” The carbohydrate you put in your “tank” at noon can only provide fuel for your metabolism until 5PM. If you don’t snack between lunch and dinner , your lunch will only fuel your metabolism until 5 PM…but your dinner will not occur until 7PM. In the hours between 5 and 7, your metabolism does not have a ready fuel source and goes into a LOW MODE….similar to the metabolic zone of sleep. If you had lunch at noon, snacked at about 4, and had dinner at 7, your furnace would be stoked on the HIGH or awake zone all of those hours with no down time.

This 5 hour rule for food also applies to the evening. If the last meal you eat at night starts at 7PM, and you don’t eat again until 9AM the next morning, your body’s metabolism will be on SLOW from 5 hours after dinner until you add “gas to the tank” at breakfast. Let’s see how this plays out:

7PM’s dinner will last metabolically until about midnight. From midnight until 9AM….9 hours out of 24…more than 30% of your day….your body is running in SLOW MODE

If you had dinner at 7PM, took a night snack at 11 PM….your body would run in HIGH MODE until 4AM and would only be in SLOW MODE for 5 hours.

If you’re following this way of thinking, it might just be a positive move to have a small snack (glass of milk, light yogurt, ½ banana) in the middle of the night! Sounds crazy, but it’s true!

Bedtime snack at 11PM, glass of milk at 4AM and breakfast at 9AM… SLOW MODE for metabolic fuel.

My mantra for those wanting to maximize calorie burn for weight loss: Eat a fuel source within 1 hour of waking up, right before you go to bed, in the middle of the night if you get up, and don’t have more than 5 hours without eating throughout the day> Meal/snack/meal/snack/meal/snack/snack works best!

When you add exercise on top of this metabolic HIGH MODE and you are really “cooking!”

Snacking will actually help with appetite control.

If you have gaps beyond 5 hours without eating, you will get signals from the brain and blood sugar levels to remind you to eat. Ignore those signals, and your body slips into a preservative mode (SLOW ZONE) so eventually, your appetite fades. But, as soon as you have something to eat; the feeling of hunger returns, but amplified, and you find yourself eating like crazy. This is why people often say….I’m okay in the morning until I eat something, then I can’t stop eating. If your fuel your body the way it naturally wants to be fed…no gaps of over 5 hours (even perhaps into the night) they wouldn’t stimulate the binge mechanism, you’ll avoid over-hunger, you will keep your metabolism stoked, and you will have energy and equilibrium all day/night long!

Ideal snacks?

***Should contain a quality carb source….medium to low glycemic index give you the most longevity (lasts longer than high glycemic index that shoots blood sugar high quickly, forcing insulin to usher it into the cells at a faster rate.

***Add a little healthy protein to the carb component to smooth the blood sugar rise and provide some added longevity and satiety.

***Fiber is an added bonus, keeps you regular and helps you to feel full longer

Nutritionally “nice“: Ideally, I’d look for a portion size that provides about 150/180 calories or less, carb amount between 11-20 grams net carb, 5 grams or less fat, 2 grams or more fiber.

Snack Suggestions (All of these snacks fit Metabolism Miracle Steps 2 and 3)

Glass of low fat milk
Light yogurt with a few nuts
Piece of fresh fruit/piece of light cheese or handful of nuts
Whole grain crackers and light cheese or peanut butter
Cup of multi grain cereal with low fat milk
Slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter
Whole grain pretzels with light cheese or PB
Protein shake
Low fat pudding cup with a few nuts


About Diane Kress

Author of The New York Times Bestseller; The Metabolism Miracle, The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook, and The Diabetes Miracle. and The Metabolism Miracle, Revised Edition. Owner, developer, and administrator of The Metabolism Miracle's support site: Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Email:
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