Are you worried about your teen's weight or looking for a perfect appetite-controlling snack for them? The University of Missouri (MU) scientists have found that afternoon snacking on high-protein-
helps teens maintain a healthy weight, delaying subsequent eating and reducing unhealthy evening snacking.
The researchers noted that although eating high-protein, afternoon snacks can aid appetite control in adults, parents were totally unaware of types of snacks that might benefit their adolescent children.
"Our research showed that eating high-protein snacks in the afternoon helps teens
improve the quality of their diets as well as control appetite. 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," said Heather Leidy, who is the lead author and also an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU.
The one-year-long study compared the effect of 1088 kJ of high-protein or high-fat afternoon snacks versus no snacking diet on appetite, food intake, mood and cognition in the study participants. As many as 31 healthy male and female teenagers rotated through three afternoon snacking routines in randomized order. The participants were put on a high protein soy snack diet (26 g of protein/6 g of fat per 27 g of carbohydrates) during the afternoon for three days, a high fat snack diet (4 g of protein/12 g of fat per 32 g of carbohydrates) for the next three days, and no snack diet for the third group for a total duration of three days.. Notably, both snacks appeared as identical chocolate-peanut-caramel-flavored pudding.
On each day, the participants were allowed to take dinner and evening snacks as they wished. Meanwhile, the researchers analyzed and documented what the participants consumed on each day.
Following each of these three routines, the participants were asked to take an eight-hour-long test, which contained pre- and post-snack questionnaires, MRI brain scans, mood tests, and cognitive exams.
The study results showed that eating any snack reduced participants' appetites compared to no snacking at all. However, the high protein snack did a better job of that than the high fat snack.
The high-protein snack helped the participants pick up more protein-rich foods and less fatty foods at mealtime at a higher rate than the high fat snack and the absence of a snack.
Also, the high protein snacks appeared to reduce their confusion and increase participant's cognitive flexibility. The researchers recommend teens consume high
snacks daily in the afternoon, making sure to choose soy foods in particular.
Though the high-protein soy pudding snacks used in the study are not available to the public at the moment, similar high-quality protein sources exist, and those protein-rich foods should elicit similar benefits.
"As long as the snack contains about 25 grams of high-quality protein like dairy or soy, similar effects should occur," Leidy outlined.
Some of the protein-rich foods include soy milk and baked tofu sticks, almonds, pumpkin seeds, edamame, and eggs.
The result of the study is published in The Journal of Nutrition.
Leidy HJ, Todd CB, Zino AZ, et al. Consuming High-Protein Soy Snacks Affects Appetite Control, Satiety, and Diet Quality in Young People and Influences Select Aspects of Mood and Cognition. Journal of Nutrition. 2015.
J Nutr. 2015 Jul;145(7):1614-22. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.212092. Epub 2015 May 20