Background: With the increasing prevalence of being overweight and obesity, dietary strategies to curb hunger levels and increase satiety at lower energy intakes are sought. The frequency of eating and type of snack may influence total energy intake. The present study aimed to assess the impact of providing either a conventional snack (cereal bar) or a nonconventional snack (almonds) on eating frequency, hunger rating, dietary intake, body weight and blood lipids.
Methods: Forty-five healthy men (aged 25-50 years, body mass index = 25-35 kg m(-2)) were recruited and allocated to a control, cereal bar or almond snack group. Two packets of cereal bars and almonds were introduced for 12 weeks to the cereal bar group and the almond snack group, respectively. Dietary intakes and eating frequency were assessed by 4-day unweighed diet diaries; visual analogue scales were used to assess hunger ratings; and fasting blood parameters (i.e. glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) were measured at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks. In addition, anthropometric measures (height, weight, skinfold thickness, waist and hip circumference) were measured at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks.
Results: The present study found no significant change in the eating frequency within groups at 12 weeks. However, the almond snack group had a significantly higher eating frequency than the control group (P < or = 0.05) and cereal bar group (P < or = 0.01). This did not result in higher energy intake, body weight or percentage body fat in the almond snack group.
Conclusion: The present study demonstrated that snacking on almonds, in comparison to cereal bars, promoted a higher eating frequency, but not a higher energy intake. Advice to snack on either almonds or cereal bars did not result in weight gain, suggesting that energy compensation took place.