Washington: Eating meals during the short interval between breakfast and lunch may lead your weight-loss efforts to go in vain, a new study has revealed.
According to a study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, women dieters who grab mid-morning snacks lose less weight compared to those who abstain from it.
In the course of the year-long study, the researchers found that mid-morning snackers lost an average of 7 percent of their total body weight while those who ate a healthy breakfast but did not snack before lunch lost more than 11 percent of their body weight.
For the study, a snack was defined as any food or drink that was consumed between main meals.
“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,” said Anne McTiernan, the lead author of the study.
She said that while snacking too close to a main meal may be detrimental to weight loss, waiting too long between meals also may sabotage dieting efforts.
“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.”
The ancillary study involved 123 overweight-to-obese postmenopausal Seattle-area women, ages 50 to 75, who were randomly assigned to either a diet-alone intervention (goal: 1,200 to 2,000 calories a day, depending on starting weight, and fewer than 30 percent of daily calories from fat), or diet plus exercise (same calorie and fat restrictions plus 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per day, five days a week).
While the women received nutrition counselling they were not given any specific instructions or recommendations about snacking behaviour.
At the end of the study the women were asked to record the time, type and frequency of meals consumed on a normal day. Percent of calories from fat, fibre and fruit and vegetable intake were also estimated using a food-frequency questionnaire.
“Many people think that a weight-loss program has to mean always feeling hungry,” McTiernan said.
“Our study suggests that snacking may actually help with weight loss if not done too close to another meal, particularly if the snacks are healthy foods that can help you feel full without adding too many calories.”
The study will be published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.