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To lose more weight, skip the mid-morning snack

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Snacking between breakfast and lunch leads to less weight loss for dieters.

If you want to lose more weight, a new study shows it may be best to skip the mid-morning snack. Researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center compared women who ate mid-morning to those who just at a healthy breakfast.

Compared to mid-morning snackers, women who avoided eating between breakfast and lunch lost more than 4 percent more weight.

Women who didn’t snack before lunch lost 11 percent or more body weight in the year- long study. In comparison, women who did not abstain from mid-morning snacks lost an average of 7 percent of their weight.

Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division and director of its Prevention Center who led the study said:

“We think this finding may not relate necessarily to the time of day one snacks, but rather to the short interval between breakfast and lunch. Mid-morning snacking therefore might be a reflection of recreational or mindless eating habits rather than eating to satisfy true hunger.”

But McTiernan also warns waiting too long between meals can also thwart weight loss efforts, explaining it’s important to gauge time 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.”

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Women who ate other than mid-morning seemed to eat healthier snacks such as fiber foods and fruits and vegetables, also found in the study.

The finding says McTiernan, shows snacking can be healthy and help with weight loss if it’s not done too close to a meal and in conjunction with healthy food choices that satisfy hunger and are low calorie.

The study was part of an ancillary investigation of nutrition and exercise on breast cancer risk.

Participants included 23 overweight-to-obese postmenopausal Seattle-area women, ages 50 to 75 that were given a calorie restricted diet alone, or diet plus exercise.

The women were given dietary guidelines, but no recommendations about snacking.

McTiernan said, “The best snacks for a weight-loss program are proteins such as low-fat yogurt, string cheese, or a small handful of nuts; non-starchy vegetables; fresh fruits; whole-grain crackers; and non-calorie beverages such as water, coffee and tea.”

She explains snacks should be no more than 200 calories per serving and should be nutrient dense when trying to lose weight.

The finding, due for publication in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, showed snacking mid-morning could thwart weight loss efforts. Choose snacks that are low calorie but nutritious to curb hunger cravings in the afternoon or other times throughout the day.

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I always thought that eating a mid-morning snack will make you feel less hungry during but I guess that is not the case. Also I figured that if you continue to small and healthy meals throughout the day, you keep your metabolism going which burns fat.
Hi Leeman - I think you're right in what you say. In this study, it seems to be the short interval between breakfast and lunch that thwarts weight loss. Comparatively, we eat supper five or more hours after lunch. If lunch is going to be 5 hours or more from breakfast, or if you're really feeling hungry versus having an appetite for something , then that would be different, based on the study finding.
Okay thanks Kathleen for clarifying that.
You're welcome. Thanks for taking your time to comment!