The rules to effective dieting can be contradictory at times, namely: to snack or not to snack? According to one study, how and when you have a snack may sabotage your weight-loss efforts. Studying over 120 overweight to obese women aged 50 to 75, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, found that those who consumed snacks too close to lunch lost less weight than those who passed on a mid-morning snack.
After a year of observation, the study showed that mid-morning snackers lost about 7 percent of their total body weight, while non-snackers lost more than 11 percent of theirs. The researchers considered any food or drink consumed between breakfast, lunch or dinner to be a snack.
Mindless eating may be to blame, said study author Anne McTiernan, MD, because the snacking seemed to be more out of habit than from a planned snack, which would thwart weight-loss goals, especially if they were calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient snacks like chips, pretzels or sweets.
“Snacking could be part of a dieter’s toolkit if they’re eating in response to true hunger. Individuals should determine if they experience long intervals-such as more than five hours-between meals. Adding a snack might help people deal better with hunger and ultimately help them to make more sound choices at their next meal,” McTiernan said.
She suggests dieters opt for snacks that are less than 200 calories and contain low-fat protein, like yogurt, string cheese or a handful of nuts with a calorie-free beverage like water, tea or coffee.
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