Just when you finally started bringing a snack to work because you believe it is the healthy thing to do, new research might make you question yourself.
According to a study published in Hepatology, snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods may cause you to gain belly fat. Dutch researchers fed a group of lean, healthy men a normal diet or a high-calorie diet. Those consuming the extra calories did so by eating fat and sugar or just sugar, either with meals or between meals. While the additional calories overall increased body mass index (BMI), noshing between meals significantly increased fat in the liver but eating larger meals didn't. Belly fat also increased for those who snacked.
Lead study author Mireille Serlie, M.D., concluded in a press release, "Our study provides the first evidence that eating more often, rather than consuming large meals, contributes to fatty liver independent of body weight gain. These findings suggest that by [sic] cutting down on snacking and encouraging three balanced meals each day over the long term may reduce the prevalence of NAFLD (non alcoholic fatty liver disease)."
Well I am not convinced. The BMIs going up from the extra calories makes sense since no matter what you eat, healthy or not, if it is too many calories than your body needs, you will gain weight. The problem I have with this study is their choice of where the extra calories came from. High-sugar and high-fat snacks would never be my choice, unless the sugar, for example, came from fresh fruit or dairy, and the fat came from nuts or avocado. So perhaps it isn’t really the “snack” but it was the nutrients—or lack thereof—that made a difference. I would like to see more research done is this area, especially with more participants and some women, before I am ready to give up my snacks.