Satiating Snacks Like Popcorn & Portion-Controlled Meals: Must-Haves for Summer Shape-Up

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ConAgra Foods Inc., one of North America's leading food makers, unveiled new research this week at the annual Experimental Biology (EB) conference that can help Americans get ready for swim suit season.  

Busy lifestyles, large portions and an abundance of food choices can foil the best laid plan to shed a few winter pounds before peeling off the cold-weather layers. However, new research focusing on 100 calorie snacks and single-serve frozen meals, demonstrates that swim suit success can be almost as close as your microwave.

Results from the two studies provide tools for eating less while staying satisfied:   

Perfect Portions

  • Simply replacing a typical restaurant or cafeteria lunch with a pre-portioned, single-serve Healthy Choice® meal (without any other diet restrictions or additional exercise) led to moderate weight loss over 30 days.

More Filling and Satisfying than Other Snacks

  • Snacking on 100-calories of low-fat Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop! popcorn led to less hunger and more satisfaction 30 minutes after snacking vs. other snacks like almonds or pretzels.

"Our research shows that simple steps--like swapping your daily restaurant or cafeteria lunch for a portion-controlled frozen meal--can be a really straightforward, effective part of a weight loss strategy that not only trims your waistline but may also save money," says Kristin Reimers, PhD, Nutrition Manager, ConAgra Foods.  "Additionally, as we've seen in previous research, replacing less-filling snacks with whole grain popcorn can result in fewer hunger pangs, making popcorn one of the best snack foods to help people stay on track with their weight management goals."

The following are more research details from both studies being highlighted at Experimental Biology. 

  • 100-Calorie Snacks – Popcorn More Filling Than Other Snacks.  Researchers provided study participants with 100-calorie portions of common snack foods three hours after eating breakfast. The snack foods included 94 percent fat-free microwave popcorn, dry roasted almonds, party mix (a mix of ready-to-eat cereal squares) and pretzels.

          Participants were asked various questions about their hunger and mood before and 30 minutes after the snack. Researchers found
          that those who ate popcorn were less hungry, more satisfied, and less interested in an additional snack than those who
          ate the almonds, party mix or pretzels. These findings support previous research showing that popcorn can be more satiating than
          other popular snacks. As it contributes both whole grains and fiber to the diet, popcorn provides busy Americans with a filling
          snack that is convenient and healthy.

  • Frozen Meal for 30 Days – An Effective Lunchtime Weight Loss Strategy.  Researchers asked study participants to replace their typical cafeteria or restaurant lunch with a single-serve frozen meal for 30 days. Participants didn't change anything else about their usual diet or exercise routine. After 30 days, researchers found that the single-serve meal substitution resulted in moderate weight loss of about three pounds among the participants.

          These findings underscore that frozen, portion-controlled meals like Healthy Choice can be an effective weight loss strategy.  Many
          working Americans buy their lunch every day because it is more convenient than bringing a lunch from home. A frozen single-serve
          meal, however, is a convenient and cost-effective lunch solution that can also help with weight loss or weight maintenance over
          time.

"ConAgra Foods is pleased to support this new research and provide tasty and convenient foods that can help people save time and improve their health," added Reimers. "These studies demonstrate the power of everyday foods like popcorn and prepared frozen meals, showing that even the busiest people can stay on the right track for better health."

This research was supported by ConAgra Foods, Inc, and abstracts are available as of April 20, 2012, via ConAgraFoodsScienceInstitute.com.