When it comes to weight loss, most of us could drop a few pounds. But we all know how hard it is to actually lose the weight. One of the culprits to achieving our goals is snacking. So here is a quick tip on something you may not know.

The time of day you eat a snack could impact weight loss.

A study in the December 2011 Journal of the American Dietetic Association concluded: If you snack mid morning, you won’t lose weight as well as if you snack other times of the day.

Here is why: Mid morning snacking tends to lead to on-going nibbling all day. That short interval between breakfast and lunch is a set up to nibble most of the day. And if you snack frequently, you take in more calories, unless you snack on the right foods. In fact, the study found that mid morning snackers who ate breakfast lost an average of 7% of their body weight compared to 11% of those who didn’t indulge. The issue seems to be mindless eating or what we sometimes call recreational eating. You eat because the food is there and tasty. The snacking isn’t driven by hunger.

So much of weight loss has to do with mindless eating. When snacks sit on your desk or kitchen counter inviting you to eat, that is a problem. Most of us will be cued to eat just by the visual. It’s tempting to grab a few pieces of candy to get a pick up for the afternoon. But that pick up is mindless and adds just enough calories to work against your weight loss efforts.

However, not eating for long periods of time during the day can also sabotage weight loss efforts.  So a healthy snack during a long stretch could help with weight loss if you do it in response to real hunger. It could help you make better choices at the next meal. You won’t be as tempted to binge or overeat.

So the take away here is this: If you do snack, don’t do it close to another meal. And choose snacks that help you feel full and don’t load on the calories. Dietitians recommend low-calorie snacks (100-200) calories that have nutritional value. Combine a protein, carb and a little fat. This helps the body digest carbs slower than other combinations and makes you feel full. A few ideas are low fat yogurt, a handful of nuts, string cheese or a few crunchy vegetables.

And the study found that afternoon snackers tend to eat more fruits and vegetables so snack away but make it the right foods at the right time.

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