My snack-free life

A typical breakfast might look something like this

A typical breakfast might look something like this

Back in May I posted about some changes I was making to my nutrition to go along with my MAF training, which included leading a snack-free existence. I had a request to do an update, so I thought now would be a good time.

First, let me back up and talk about why I made changes. Just as with MAF training, I wanted to improve my body’s ability to use fat for fuel. Too many marathon crashes too early on indicated that something was off. So my focus with nutrition, under the guidance of my friend the Sock Doc, was on increasing good fat intake and decreasing, or eliminating, snacking. Again, it’s not that I was snacking on processed foods or anything unhealthy. But any snacking, even healthy snacking, can hurt your body’s ability to utilize fat for fuel because you are providing it a constant source of glycogen (read more here on the Sock Doc’s site).

So four months later, where am I? Doing pretty well. I don’t snack anymore and I’m just fine with that. Instead, I eat a big breakfast, a big lunch, and plenty of healthy fats and protein to keep me filled up. My dinners remain about the same size that they were before, if not a bit smaller even.

Was it an adjustment? You bet. I had a tough time at first stretching the time between lunch and dinner. But my body has learned to make it through those hours without needing anything extra. I may get hungry by the time dinner rolls around, but I’ve also learned that being a bit hungry–not famished–is ok. I can live. I’ve also leaned out some, something I attribute both to the change in diet and training–my body simply uses fat more than it used to do. I’ll admit I like this side benefit. And like before, I am continuing to run all my morning runs on no fuel. I’ll be going 18 this Saturday and have no qualms about approaching it this way as this is what my body likes now.

I’m not saying this way of eating is for everyone. It’s just what is working for me, at this stage in my life. I am certainly not an RD, so I am not recommending it to anyone or claiming it’s what you need in your life. I will say, though, that it has made me rethink my kids’ snacking habits a bit. I think that as a society, we’ve programmed our kids to snack, when in reality, they’d probably be just fine between meals if they were taking in more substance during meals. My two cents.

What about you–snacks or no snacks? Do you think you could manage without? 

On a sidenote–I’ve got the Baltimore Running Festival logo up in my left-hand sidebar, which links to our new RunWithCSE blog. I’d love it if you’d stop on by now and again (or weekly!) for posts on both the running festival races, as well as topics that touch on running in general. Thanks for any love you can give us!

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  1. says

    Hmm… interesting about snacking providing you with constant glycogen… never thought of that. I always thought you needed snacking to keep your metabolism going. I find it hard to make it through meals without something with all this running I’ve been doing.
    emma @ a mom runs this town recently posted..Kinetic ChainsMy Profile

  2. says

    No Snacking…. that isn’t going to happen in my house!!! I have a love for chocolate a love for chips, what about doughnuts, OK I do have an apple and an orange under the table to be eaten after lunch!

    But good on you, I am impressed.
    Coach Dion recently posted..TIME TO TRAINMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      Angela–and the Sock Doc would say not to go 6 hours anyhow. I am closer to 4-5 between meals, which is much more doable.

  3. says

    I try to follow a plan by a doctor who does not advocate snacking either. He says digestion is a process that needs to fully complete, and we just constantly reintroduce food and start the process over.
    Emmy recently posted..I’m Giving UpMy Profile

  4. says

    My husband snacks but I don’t. It actually is better for my digestion. Not saying that i don’t snack ever, but when i do it’s usually a liquid form to keep stomach acid high. Bigger meals 3x a day work great. Just depends on the person. ya know? I ususally go 4-6 hrs too
    lindsay recently posted..Places, Faces, and Races: The RecapMy Profile

  5. says

    I’ve learned a lot of the same info this past year and have been experimenting with it a little as well- it’s tough because I LOVE snacks. :) But from a scientific and nutrition perspective, it makes sense. And like you said, if I am getting enough protein and fat, I have no problem making it until the next meal. Thanks for sharing!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Homemade pizza: How to use a pizza peelMy Profile

  6. says

    Interesting approach. My coach has us do glycogen depletion runs every other week and I actually like them better than running with fuel. I have done 14 miles like this with no problems. The no snacking approach sounds like something I may check out, although I like food so much it would be a challenge.
    Toni Church recently posted..On Vacation!!!My Profile

    • MissZippy says

      Toni–I’ve come to prefer the GD runs as well. The only issue is that for the marathon, I’ve got to get used to some fuel, too, so as I get into 20s, I’ll start using it again.

  7. says

    I’m definitely a snacker. I can’t handle big meals, so I like to have something like carrots & hummus between breakfast and lunch then a banana & almond butter before I leave work to fuel me for my workout before dinner.
    Maureen recently posted..Simple Tip – PeachesMy Profile

  8. says

    I do snack, but since I’ve started eating a much larger breakfast, I don’t tend to want something between breakfast and lunch but almost always want something between lunch and dinner. And it also depends on what workouts I’m doing and the timing.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..13 Years AgoMy Profile

  9. says

    Snacking is so dependent on the day for me (and how big my meals are!) it definitely is very individualized, but overall, providing enough nutrients in the day is important. If I do snack, I make sure to have some carb with protein & healthy fat to keep me satisfied though! Glad you found what works for you!

  10. says

    It is so interesting to see what work for different people. Since I started having problems with my stomach I have noticed that I need to eat smaller meals all day long, and then nothing as my body gets ready for bed. I am eating 6-7 small meals a day, which maybe considered snacking?

    But i think fueling and nutrition is so personal. YOU ARE ROCKING IT!
    Krysten recently posted..The healing power of the raceMy Profile

  11. says

    when i was actually running decent distances i never ate before an AM run (even long saturday morning runs). i’d just have gu/chomps/gatorade while running and eat after. i definitely need to cut back / cut out the snacking. most of the time it’s boredom eating anyway which just isn’t doing me any favors! glad to hear it hasn’t been too hard for you.
    lindsay recently posted..Waving My Banner All Over the PlaceMy Profile

  12. says

    I’ve been thinking about changing up my eating routine to something similar to this, but I don’t think I’m at a place where I could do long runs without added fuel (I’m just not there yet as a runner). Glad it’s working so well for you! I agree that different things work for different people.
    Becki @ Fighting for Wellness recently posted..Moving Forward with IntentionMy Profile

  13. says

    NO SNACKS FOR ME! NONE. ZILCH. ZIPPO! My father eats one meal a day. I eat two. I do not snack because my stomach bloats very easily. Plus, I am not hungry because I eat LOTS AND LOTS of protein to keep me full. However, when I do in fact get hungry, it hits me like a semi-truck! lol And then I HAVE TO EAT a meal, but my body is like clock work so I know when this will happen.
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..Desperate for Eva Longoria’s GuacamoleMy Profile

  14. says

    I’ve never been a snacker, on healthy things or otherwise. When eating every 3-4 hrs was a thing a few years ago, I tried it and hated it–it felt like I was always in the kitchen with little meals—none of which felt as satisfying as having a solid meal three times a day. Glad you’ve found something that works for you too!
    Karen@ La Chanson de Ma Vie recently posted..Fantastic MondayMy Profile

  15. says

    Following you through this whole MAF training has been so interesting trigued byI’m very in the nutritional changes you’ve made. I am definitely a late afternoon snacker – seriously cranky without it!

    Curious – will you fuel for your marathon?
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Still strivingMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      Hey Michelle–yes, I’ll fuel for the marathon. One of the things I need to do as I hit 20s is start playing with fueling during them again for that reason!

  16. says

    I snack constantly but my meals are pretty small. I sometimes don’t eat a “real” lunch b/c of my schedule so I snack on healthy stuff and it seems to work well for me. I need some real help in the hydration department. I’m pretty sure I’m dehydrated most of the time which is not conducive to long distance running!
    I’m glad this is working for you. I definitely find it very interesting to read about other runner’s fueling habits!
    Allie recently posted..SEXISM? YOU BE THE JUDGEMy Profile

  17. says

    I’m not a big snacker – but my eating habits are pretty horrid in general. There are many days that I don’t eat anything until 3 in the afternoon (and that is after being up since 5 am) and then I don’t want to eat much because we always eat dinner together at 6pm. I try not to let that happen but then I just get busy and don’t even think about it until I start to get shaky or dizzy (not cool and I know better!!).
    Glad that you have been able to make the adjustments to your diet and cut out the snacking.
    Kim recently posted..We Bought a Business!!!My Profile

  18. says

    After becoming a Sock Doc cult member how could I not try this :)

    I’ve also gradually gone snack free (and running without eating first) and it was going well. It was tough at first to change the mindset of eating 5 meals a day to keep your metabolism up but I liked how I was starting to feel. Unfortunately I ran into a minor bump in the road with an injury, no running and dealing with stress by snacking. Ugh! No worries. I liked how I felt with the changes I’ve recently made and I’ll be back on track. Hopefully sooner than later.
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted..Jill and Jen’s Birthday Bash GiveawayMy Profile

  19. says

    Awesome. Because the Caveman is a Paleo guy, this is not new to me. But he’s not a runner, haha!
    I’m thrilled this is working for you. I totally agree that we live in a snack culture and in the case of my kids (my youngest especially) snacks will sabotage her meals.
    I’ve always run on an empty stomach for up to 15 miles. But I do throw down something for longer runs.
    Can’t wait to see how this works for you come race day!
    Marcia recently posted..August Loving, Not LovingMy Profile

  20. says

    I’m not really a huge snacker but I do like my after dinner snacks (ice cream etc). I have been doing a lot of my runs with no additional fuel but I do eat a bagel and have coffee before I go. On the long runs over 16 miles, I’ll take in something (but not as much as a marathon). I raced my last two half marathons with no intake at all (on course) but ate before hand. As the marathon approaches though, I’m starting to fuel more on long runs in prep for the race as I’m afraid if I don’t, it might make me feel gross or sick to my stomach on race day.
    Robin recently posted..CarrotFast 5KMy Profile

  21. says

    I’ve noticed that since switching to eating Primal (similar to Paleo) I no longer feel the need to snack. The only time I feel like snacking is at night, and then I just have some homemade kombucha sorbet (kombucha or water kefir in the ice cream maker) which gives me some probiotics so I figure it’s all good :)
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..Not The Post I Had Hoped To Be WritingMy Profile

  22. says

    The three square meals point of view is new to me. Typically everyone promotes giving your body some healthy source of fuel every few hours which supports an active metabolism – keeps the body burning calories. I’ll def. have to read Sock Docs take on nutrition. Interesting. :)
    I’m a snacker. I have always been a nibbler, every two or three hours. I’m not sure I could go without snacking since I get SO grumpy when I’m hungry.
    Our nutritional needs are really so personal. It really depends on your body (metabolism) and activity level.
    Joanne recently posted..Meyer Lemon Fruit Bundt CakeMy Profile

  23. says

    I am definitely a snacker. My meals are just SO spread apart I can’t get away with not eating anything between them. I’m up too early to be able to stomach a huge breakfast, so I divide that meal up into 2 parts; carbs and protein early, nuts and fruit later on. Lunch is the same- I’ll eat a little with my daughter, then a bit more before I start work in the evening. Dinner is at 11pm or later. It’s not ideal, but my body relies on constant calorie intake!
    Jen @ ConcreteNCoffee recently posted..At Home Workout- AMRAP had to have been invented by a mom.My Profile

  24. says

    Hi MissZippy. I am curious as to why you chose healthy fats over healthy simply sugars (fruits).
    I used to eat 3 meals a day but now I have gone to 5-6 smaller meals a day, all whole food and plant based. I drink veggie juices and fruits juices, and eat fruits throughout the day. I guess you can say I snack on fruits. I some protein (quinoa) and vegetables for my last meal. I never run out of energy, though I am not a runner. I box and cycle though.