The problem with processed, low-calorie snacks (aside from the refined wheat, artificial dyes and flavors, added sugars, etc.) is that they just don't fill you up. If anything, the sugar high and subsequent crash will prompt you to revisit the snack drawer multiple times in one afternoon, rather than satiating your appetite as intended. Studies have actually found that people who consume low-calorie and low-fat snacks end up eating more, as their perception of a normal portion size gets distorted by the promise of fewer calories.
So when it comes to snacking for satiety, what should you turn to? According to a study out of the Technical University of Munich, olive oil actually makes you feel satisfied and "regulate(s) the sensation of feeling full after eating," explains the university website. The researchers tested four different edible fats in relation to satiety: lard, butter, rapeseed oil, and olive oil. Participants ate 500 grams of low-fat yogurt infused with one of the four fats or oils every day for three months, in addition to eating their normal diet.
In the end, "olive oil had the biggest satiety effect," said study author Peter Schieberle, head of the TUM Chair of Food Chemistry. "The olive oil group showed a higher concentration of the satiety hormone serotonin in their blood. Subjectively speaking, these participants also reported that they found the olive oil yogurt very filling." What's more, compounds in olive oil actually slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, which means you won't experience the rapid rise and fall in blood sugar and energy.
The researchers recommend consuming olive oil at room temperature since the heating process can evaporate some of the beneficial compounds. Try adding it to your afternoon veggie dip, swapping out bread and butter for bread and olive oil, or simply drizzling it over any stir-fry or entrée. What's more, remember to invest in a high-quality olive oil like Merula Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($11).
How do you add olive oil to your diet? Share your tips in the comments below!