Snacks: 7 Tips for Smart Snacking (cont.)

Are you wondering why these men weren't "hungry" a few hours after eating lunch? Researcher Didier Chapelot, MD, PhD, of the University of Paris, said that, in France, most people don't eat anything between lunch and dinner. He also noted that people who usually eat three times a day (as the men in this study regularly did), are not generally hungry until 5-7 hours after lunch.

6. Avoid high-fat snacks.

There are lots of reasons to avoid fatty snacks, including the possibility that they actually encourage overeating. Pennsylvania State University researchers found that rats who were regularly fed a high-fat diet ended up overeating high-calorie, high-fat foods, compared with rats fed a low-fat diet. The researchers suspect this has to do with a decrease in sensitivity to a hormone that normally sends a "stop eating" message to the brain.

7. Look out for TV temptations.

Convenience and fast foods high in fat and sodium made up 57% of the food advertised during the most popular TV shows, according to research by University of Illinois speech communication professor Kristen Harrison, PhD.

Harrison's research also revealed that snacking is featured in food advertising more often than all three meals combined (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). So if you watch TV, keep in mind that food companies are working to lure you into buying their snack foods and junk foods.

5 Easy Power Snacks

The perfect snack is one that packs some nutritional power but comes with a low caloric price tag.

To hold hunger at bay and provide a constant supply of energy, you want a snack that includes some carbohydrate, fiber, protein, and a little fat (preferably "smart fats" like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). Look for at least 5 grams of protein and about 5 grams of fiber.

These five simple "power snacks" have all this and more:

  • Pear with cheese (1 large pear with 1 1/2 ounces of reduced-fat cheese like light Jarlsberg): 242 calories, 13 g protein, 5 g fiber, 8 g fat
  • A handful of almonds (3 tablespoons) and dried fruit (3 tablespoons): 250 calories, 7 g protein, 4 g fiber, 14 g fat (mostly monounsaturated).
  • 1 ounce baked tortilla chips with 1/4 cup fat-free refried beans topped with an ounce of reduced-fat cheese and 1/8 cup tomato salsa: 250 calories, 13 g protein, 4.5 g fiber, 9 g fat.
  • 6 ounces low-fat or nonfat light yogurt with 1/2 cup fruit, topped with 1/4 cup low-fat granola: 207 calories, 10 g protein, 5 g fiber, 2.5 g fat.
  • 1 cup edamame with shells, or 1/2 cup edamame without shells, drizzled with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper: 159 calories, 10 g protein, 5 g fiber, 9 g fat (mostly monounsaturated). (Edamame, boiled green soybeans, are available in the frozen food section of many supermarkets)

Cook Up These Power Snacks

Here are a couple of power snack recipes for those times when you need a little something extra.

Veggie Pita Pizza

1 whole-wheat pita pocket
1/8 cup bottled pizza sauce
1/3 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella
1/3 cup finely chopped veggies of your choice (broccoli florets, green onions, tomato, sliced mushrooms, etc.)

  • Lay pita round on a baking sheet and spread pizza sauce over the top. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the pizza sauce and top with a combination of veggies.
  • Broil in toaster oven (or microwave on HIGH for about a minute) until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Yield: 1 serving

Per serving: 250 calories, 16 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 558 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 29%.

Pesto Provolone Mini Sandwich

1 small whole-wheat dinner roll (such as OroWeat 100% whole-wheat rolls)
2 teaspoons pesto sauce (bottled or in the refrigerator or freezer section)
2 ounces thinly sliced turkey breast
1/8 cup shredded provolone cheese, firmly packed

  • Cut dinner roll open and lay the two halves on a piece of foil or small baking sheet and spread 1 teaspoon pesto sauce over each half. Lay a double thickness of small turkey pieces over each half. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of turkey.
  • Broil in toaster oven (or pop in the microwave for about a minute) for a couple of minutes until cheese is melted.

Yield: 1 serving

Per serving: 250 calories, 17 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 28 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 700 mg sodium (depending on the products you use). Calories from fat: 30%.

Recipe provided by Elaine Magee; © 2006 Elaine Magee

SOURCES: Preventive Medicine 32, 2001. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2002; vol 76, No. 3. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, August 2004; vol 104, Issue 8 (Supplement 2). Journal of Nutrition, August 2005; vol 135. Kristen Harrison, PhD, assistant professor of speech communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Didier Chapelot, MD, PhD, researcher and lecturer, Physiologie du Comportement Alimentaire, University of Paris.

Published Thursday, March 23, 2006.