According to a study published in October of 2023 in PLOS GLOBAL, Americans are consuming a meal’s worth of calories in snacks. Below are some interesting highlights from the study.
1. In this study, over 20,000 US adults over the age of 30 years old were surveyed.
2. This study found that snacks make up 22% of daily calories (about 500 calories).
3. Over 60% of these calories come from snacks, sweets, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
4. Only 5% of these calories come from fruits and veggies.
5. The average daily intake of fiber specifically from snacks is 3 grams.
Should we stop snacking throughout the day?
Snacking is not the villain here, but it’s safe to say the type and quality of snacks that most people are consuming come from nutrient-poor foods/beverages. The snack isle at the grocery store is mostly filled with ultra-processed foods manufactured with ingredients that are hard to recognize.
Does this mean we stop snacking all together?
Snacks can serve as a great bridge between meals. For some, snacks can play an important role in reaching one’s health goals. Snacks can prevent you from getting overly hungry and making poor choices at the next meal time. It can serve as an energy boost and means to support weight loss.
For some, snacks might not be necessary if meals are adequate and balanced. Taking a 3-5 hour break from eating between meals can actually be a gamechanger. This gives your digestion a break and is a great time to focus on hydration.
Two Key Nutrients To Eat When You Snack
If you choose to snack, it is important to create a snack that is made primarily from whole or minimally processed foods.
When you build your snack, focus on combing fiber, ideally from produce like fruits and vegetables, with protein or a healthy fat. This is key because it will help provide satiety, support blood sugar balance and give your body the macro and micronutrients it needs to feel really good.
Here are a few examples of a balanced snack including fiber and protein/fat.
Carrots + Hummus
Bell Peppers + Greek Yogurt Dip
Apple + Almond Butter
Banana + Cashew Butter
Whole Grain Crackers, Cucumbers & Hard-Boiled Egg
Popcorn + Mixed Nuts
Spinach, Banana, Blueberry & Kefir Smoothie
Best Convenient Snacks For On-The-Go
Since likely you live a busy lifestyle, here are a few favorite time-saving, on-the-go snacks I like to have on hand. These snacks are easy to take with you while traveling or running errands.
New Primal Meat Sticks + Sliced Bell Peppers and Carrots
"The best healthy habit to prevent poor impulse food choices is to be armed with your go-to healthy snacks when hunger strikes."
So is it time to stop snacking? The answer is...evaluate if a snack is necessary and avoid the “empty calorie” snacks and replace them with more nutrient-dense foods.
Be prepared with snack options that are balance with fiber and protein. Avoid mindless snacking and be conscious as you snack to avoid unknowingly consuming a meals worth of calories in snacks throughout the day.