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How can having a morning snack slow weight loss?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
We're all for snacks, especially healthful snacks that keep you from sitting down to a meal hungry enough to gnaw the napkins. Munching a handful of walnuts half an hour before eating is one of the best ways we know to tame a Rottweiler appetite, especially when you're trying to lose weight.

But wait -- if you want to lose more weight in less time, intriguing new research says to skip mid-morning snacks. Dieters who do lose more than 11% of their weight in the same time that morning noshers lose only 7%. Why? The gap between breakfast and lunch often isn't that long, you're probably not really hungry but someone brought in doughnuts, and...well, you know how this story ends.

In the afternoon, the reverse is true. If there's more than a five-hour gap between lunch and dinner (routine in our lives), a snack may be essential to dropping a belt size. You're for-real hungry, not just eating because someone had a Krispy Kreme craving.

So be as smart about snacking as you are about talking your boss into an afternoon off. The same study that found mid-morning snacks backfire also found that snacking when you're legitimately hungry helps weight loss IF you eat healthful foods that fill you up with nutrients, not calories. On our top afternoon snacks list: a handful of nuts, no/low-fat yogurt, whole-grain crackers, fresh veggies, fruits, and berries.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.