Many people enjoy a snack or two throughout the day to keep their energy levels up. However, doing so can push your overall calorie intake up substantially, ultimately leading to weight gain. However, a new study suggests that a specific snack could actually have the opposite effect.
A team from the University of South Australia concluded that those who ate almonds as an alternative to an energy-equivalent carbohydrate snack lowered their energy intake by 300 kilojoules during the following meal.
In a university release, Doctor Sharayah Carter, from the university’s Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity explained: “Rates of overweight and obesity are a major public health concern and modulating appetite through better hormonal response may be key to promoting weight management.
“Our research examined the hormones that regulate appetite, and how nuts – specifically almonds – might contribute to appetite control.”
“We found that people who ate almonds experienced changes in their appetite-regulating hormones, and that these may have contributed to reduced food intake (by 300kJ).”
The study, which was published in the European Journal of Nutrition, found that people who ate almonds had 47 percent lower C-peptide responses (which can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease).
They also had higher levels of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (18 percent higher), glucagon (39 percent higher), and pancreatic polypeptide responses (44 percent higher).
This is relevant to weight loss as glucagon sends satiety signals to the brain, while pancreatic polypeptide slows digestion which may reduce food intake, both encouraging weight loss.
Overall, the findings show that eating almonds produce small changes to people’s energy intake, something Doctor Carter says may have clinical effects in the long term.
“Almonds are high in protein, fibre, and unsaturated fatty acids, which may contribute to their satiating properties and help explain why fewer kilojoules were consumed,” she said.
“Even small, positive lifestyle changes can have an impact over a longer period.
“When we’re making small, sustainable changes, we’re more likely to be improving our overall health in the long run.
“Almonds are a fantastic healthy snack to incorporate into the daily diet.
“We are now excited to look at how almonds might affect appetite during a weight loss diet and how they might assist with weight management in the long term.”
What is obesity?
Being obese means you are very overweight, with a lot of body fat.
In the UK obesity is estimated to affect around one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11.
One marker of obesity is the body mass index.
This can be calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres.
For most adults, a BMI of:
- 18.5 to 24.9 means you’re a healthy weight
- 25 to 29.9 means you’re overweight
- 30 to 39.9 means you’re obese
- 40 or above means you’re severely obese.
Being obese can raise your risk of several health conditions such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and bowel cancer