New Study Shows How to Snack Smarter

Eat a snack in the afternoon, rather than the morning, if you want to lose more weight.

Dieticians have long derided the notion of limiting daily food intake to the three-squares-a-day model. Snacks to supplement smaller meals are they way to go. But just when should you actually chomp down on a between-meal snack?

New research in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that women who snack mid-morning—as opposed to mid-afternoon or in the evening—lose significantly less weight than their counterparts. Morning snackers also reported eating more snacks throughout the day than those who snack at other times, adding up to more calories consumed overall.

And researchers found differences in snack quality, too. Women who ate two or more snacks a day actually had a higher fiber intake than those who reported snacking once or never. And afternoon snackers ate more fruits and veggies in a day than non-afternoon snackers.

The takeaway? Eat more protein at breakfast so you can skip the a.m. snack. Do snack mid-afternoon, but make it a container of carrot sticks and hummus or an apple with peanut butter. The weight loss—11.4 percent among afternoon snackers versus just 7 percent among morning snackers—is definitely worth it.