First, let us understand why snacking is BAD for you in the first place.
Each time you have a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) or a snack (mid morning, evening or bed time), the digestive system releases enzymes to breakdown the food to simple nutrients which are then absorbed in the gut. During the process of digestion, many hormones are released. Insulin is one such hormone which helps in transport of glucose and amino acids into the cell.
After every meal, there is a spike of Insulin in the body. If the insulin spikes are too frequent, it leads to a condition called Insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the root cause of many metabolic conditions like obesity, diabetes mellitus, polycystic ovarian syndrome etc.
Snacking leads to Insulin Resistance.
Autophagy is a process where there is destruction of damaged or redundant cellular components of the body. Eating too frequently prevents this recycling of components leading to early aging.
Snacking promotes the aging process by preventing Autophagy.
Eating more frequently prevents the gut from resting and causes inflammation in the body. Chronic (long term) low grade inflammation is associated with many cancers, cardiovascular disease etc.
Snacking causes Chronic Inflammation, associated with cancer, heart disease etc.
But there are certain times when snacking is GOOD for you.
1. Snacking is good when you have missed a regular meal.
If you have missed your breakfast in a hurry to catch your cab and you have traveled a couple of hours, having a snack will help you to get through till lunch.
2. Snacking is good when your regular meal is more than 3 hours away.
If you got delayed at work and your regular meal is more than 3 hours away, a snack will prevent you from choosing instantly gratifying junk foods as soon as you reach home.
3. Snacking is good before going shopping.
You are less likely to pick up junk foods from the super market if you are not hungry. So have a snack before going shopping.
4. Snacking is good when you are unlikely to find healthy food.
When you are traveling and you are less likely to find healthy food of your choice, then a snack will help you sustain till you find the right food.
5. Snacking is good if you want to gain weight but you are a poor eater.
If you are trying to gain weight but you cannot eat the regular quantities of food or you are a very choosy eater, then snacking is a good option for you to gain weight. The Message: Eating less frequently is more important than eating less quantity!