There are mixed opinions about snacking.
Some believe that it’s healthy, while others think it can harm you and make you gain weight.
Here is a detailed look at snacking and how it affects your health.
What is snacking and why do people snack?
Snacking is when you consume food or beverages between your regular main meals.
The term “snack foods” is often used to refer to processed, high-calorie items like chips and cookies.
However, snacking simply means to eat or drink something between meals, regardless of whether the food is healthy (1Trusted Source).
Hunger is the main motivation behind snacking, but factors like location, social environment, time of day, and food availability contribute as well.
In fact, people often snack when appetizing food is around — even when they’re not hungry.
In one study, when people with obesity or excess weight were asked why they chose unhealthy snacks, the most common response was temptation, followed by hunger and low energy levels (2Trusted Source).
In addition, both the desire to snack and snacking’s effects on health appear to be highly individualized. Factors that influence snacking include age and beliefs about whether this practice is healthy (3Trusted Source).
Does snacking boost your metabolism?
Though it’s been suggested that eating every few hours increases your metabolism, scientific evidence doesn’t support this.
Research indicates that meal frequency has no significant effect on how many calories you burn (4Trusted Source).
One study in people consuming an equal number of calories in either two or seven meals per day found no difference in calories burned (5Trusted Source).
In another study, people with obesity who followed a very-low-calorie diet for 3 weeks showed similar decreases in metabolic rate, regardless of whether they ate 800 calories as 1 or 5 meals per day (6Trusted Source).
Yet, in one study, active young men who ate a high-protein or high-carb snack before bed experienced a significant increase in metabolic rate the following morning (7Trusted Source).