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Cut the snacking habit

health-and-fitness Updated: Oct 20, 2011 01:39 IST

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Want to slough off that snack habit? Then, eat more protein as too little of it makes you hungry and reach for the unhealthy food, scientists say.

A team from the Cambridge University and the University of Sydney found that people whose meals contained 10 per cent protein consumed 260 more calories a day than those on 15 percent protein. Not only did they eat more but 70 per cent of the extra calories they ate were between snacks between meals rather than at mealtimes, the researchers found. They also found that raising consumption to 25 per cent — as advocated by the Atkins Diet — was no extra help in halting over-eating, the Daily Mail reported.

“The results show that humans have a particularly strong appetite for protein, and when the proportion of protein in the diet is low this appetite can drive excess energy intake,” said lead author Alison Grosby of the University of Sydney. For the study, the team recruited 22 volunteers to live and eat in a science facility. While the foods looked the same, they had different protein levels. The amount of fat remained constant at 30 percent of the total calories in a meal but the carbohydrate was adjusted to either 45, 50 or 60 per cent of the meal.