Observing the seldom-studied teen diet led a team of U.S. researchers to conclude that a high-protein soy snack in the afternoon could reduce appetite and unhealthy evening snacking.
“Standard meals tend to go to the wayside for kids this age — particularly from mid-afternoon to late evening — and many of the convenient ‘grab-and-go’ snacks are high in fat and sugar,” says Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Soy-based chocolate pudding was used in the study. In an interview with Relaxnews, Leidy says her team did a separate experiment with Greek yogurt that yielded similar results.
The study — published in the Journal of Nutrition — saw 31 healthy teens between the ages of 13 and 19, with an average age of 17, participate.
All were either of a normal weight or overweight and the researchers assessed how afternoon snacking affected their cognitive performance and mood in addition to how it affected their appetite and food choices.
The teens were assigned to consume one of three afternoon snacks over the course of three days, until each participant had completed a three-day sprint of each snack.
The successful high-protein snack was a soy pudding containing 26 grams of protein and 6 grams of far per 27 grams of carbohydrates.
Its effects were compared against a high-fat snack containing just four grams of protein and 12 grams of fat per 32 grams of carbohydrates, and also to those of having no snack, according to the study.
Both snacks were more effective than no snack at curbing the teens’ appetite, yet the high-protein snack edged out the other.
What’s more, the high-protein snack led the teens to choose more protein-rich foods and less fatty foods at mealtime at a greater rate than the high fat snack and the absence of a snack.
“In addition, we also found that the high-protein snacks improved certain aspects of mood and cognitive function,” says Leidy.
The high-protein soy pudding snacks used in the experiment are not available to the public, although similar high-quality protein sources exist and should elicit similar benefits, according to Leidy.
“As long as the snack contains about 25 grams of high quality protein like dairy or soy, similar effects should occur,” she outlined.
High-protein soy snacks include soy milk and baked tofu sticks and almonds, pumpkin seeds, edamame as well as eggs are all foods high in protein.
“Health professionals increasingly are recommending that people eat more high-protein, plant-based foods like soy, which are high quality and tend to be inexpensive and environmentally friendly,” says Leidy.