Before you reach for a bag of chips or a donut to snack on, you might want to read this: New research shows eating high-protein afternoon snacks can aid appetite control, reducing obesity risks.
Food scientists from the University of Missouri-Columbia found high-protein-soy foods, reduces afternoon appetite, delays cravings for food, and reduces unhealthy evening snacking in teenagers.
"Our research showed that eating high-protein snacks in the afternoon helps teens improve the quality of their diets as well as control appetite," said lead researcher Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU.
"Standard meals tend to go to the wayside for kids this age — particularly from mid-afternoon to late evening — and many of the convenient 'grab-and-go' snacks are high in fat and sugar. When kids eat high-protein snacks in the afternoon, they are less likely to eat unhealthy snacks later in the day, which is particularly important for kids who want to prevent unhealthy weight gain."
For the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers tracked the snacking and dietary habits of teenagers classified as either normal weight or overweight.
The results showed that those who consumed soy-protein pudding as an afternoon snack — designed by the researchers to be comparable to other foods such as peanut butter, eggs, and cheese — tended to eat less in the late afternoon and evening because they felt full longer and had fewer food cravings for fatty foods or carbs.
"In addition to the appetite and satiety benefits, we found that when the teens ate the high-protein snacks, they incorporated more protein throughout the day and consumed less dietary fat," Leidy said.
"Thus, adding protein snacks in the afternoon could be a good strategy for individuals who are trying to eat more protein throughout the day. In addition, we also found that the high-protein snacks improved certain aspects of mood and cognitive function."
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