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Research Reveals Best Choice Afternoon Snack for Teens and Weight Control

Tim Boyer's picture

Raiding the refrigerator is something every parent can count on in their teen’s daily life. But is your teen’s choice of afternoon snack the best one for not only mood and mental cognition toward studying later, but also maintaining control of their weight? Here is what one University study found is the best choice afternoon snack for teens.


According to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers at the University of Missouri investigated whether ingesting either a high-protein snack, a high-fat snack, or no snack at all on afternoons had an affect on dinnertime appetite, food intake, mood and cognition in teens. The snacks provided were reportedly identical in appearance as a pudding type, with soy used as the source of high-protein in the protein snack.

In the study, thirty-one teens underwent three 3-day snacking trials in which they consumed either a high-protein snack, a high-fat snack or no snack at during each of the 3-day sessions. On the fourth day after each 3-day snack session, the teens participated in an 8-hour testing period in which they completed questionnaires , underwent MRI brain scans, had their mood evaluated, received cognition testing, as well as observation of what and how much they ate on the 4th day.

What the researchers found was that:

• High-protein, but not high-fat snacking delayed eating afterward during the day.

• Both high-protein and high-fat snacking reduced appetite versus no snacking; however, high-protein snacking reduced appetite significantly more than high-fat snacking

• High-protein snacking led to greater protein consumption than no snacking; and, greater protein and lower fat consumption than high-fat consumption later on in the day.

• High-protein snacking led to fewer high-fat and high-sugar snacking behavior in the evening.

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• High-protein snacking tended to reduce confusion-bewilderment and increase cognitive flexibility under testing conditions.

The researchers concluded that afternoon snacking is important for growing teens, particularly when the afternoon snacks consist of high-protein soy foods for improving appetite, increasing satiety and diet quality in adolescents, while also beneficially influencing aspects of mood and cognition.

“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 Heather Leidy, the lead author of the study and 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 an informative article about high-protein snacks, here are some high-protein snack recommendations for weight loss as well as the best snack bar rated by Consumer Reports.


MU News Bureau “Snacking on Protein Can Improve Appetite Control and Diet Quality in Teens

Consuming High-Protein Soy Snacks Affects Appetite Control, Satiety, and Diet Quality in Young People and Influences Select Aspects of Mood and CognitionJournal of Nutrition 2015; Leidy HJ, Todd CB, Zion AZ, et al.

Image courtesy of University of Missouri