America, we have a snacking problem.
Not only are most of our snacks of the high-fat, high-sugar variety, but there’s new research to suggest our grazing habit may be the root cause of dangerous belly fat accumulation. According to a study printed in the journal Hepatology, people on a hypercaloric diet whose meal frequency included fatty, sugary snacks gained more weight than people consuming the same number of calories parsed over three large meals.
Fortunately, there’s ample research to suggest we can snack smartly—and slim-down. Make munching work for you with these 6 proven snack strategies for weight loss:
Watch the Clock
A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that mid-morning snackers tended to snack more throughout the day than afternoon snackers, resulting in compromised weight loss efforts. On the other hand, afternoon snacking was associated with a slightly higher intake of fiber and fruits and vegetables. For the best possible picks, check out our list of good snacks for weight loss. We’ve done the research, so getting an Eat This, Not That!-approved snack is as easy as grab and go.
Mix Your Chips
You can avoid mindlessly overeating by adding visual traffic lights to your snack bowl, according to a recent study. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University gave one set of students a bowl of yellow chips, while another group had their serving layered with red chips. Students who had a segmented snack ate 50% less than those with a uniform bowl. Try it at home with Terra Blues Potato Chips, which are free of artificial colors.
Muscle Up Your Munchies
Make sure your snack has at least 4 g protein, which requires more energy to burn than carbs or fats and keeps you fuller longer. But don’t take it from me: Researchers from the University of Missouri compared the satiety effects of high-, moderate-, and low-protein snacks on 24 to 28-year-old women, and found high-protein snacks to have the greatest effect.
Want to snack less without going snackless? Try the left-handed diet (or right-handed). A study printed in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found moviegoers grabbed for less popcorn when doing so with their non-dominant hand. Eating with your non-dominant hand makes you think about what you’re doing, and may help you eat less.
Use Smaller Bowls
Grabbing handfuls from the bag is never a good idea, but munching from a punch bowl won’t do much for weight loss either. Research printed in The FASEB Journal suggests that overeating may be associated with the size of our serveware. Participants who were given larger bowls, served and ate 16 percent more than those given smaller bowls. Take advantage of the visual illusion with belly-friendly mini bowls or ramekins.
Don’t Be Duped
Just because something is marketed as “low fat,” doesn’t mean it’s good for you—or you should eat more of it. A Cornell University study printed in the Journal of Marketing Research suggests people eat more of a snack that’s marketed as “low fat.” Participants in the study ate a whopping 28% more of a snack (M&Ms!) labeled “low fat,” than when they didn’t have the label. And take a good look at your daily diet to make sure you’re getting enough healthy fat, which will boost satiety. For good options, add these fatty foods that will help you lose weight to your weekly menu.