Want to lose weight? Snack on peanuts

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An hour glass figure for women and muscular fit body for men have become life goals for many these days as just to shed those extra kilos, people go to extremes either by using time saving, fat reduction products on home shopping channels or by strict dieting measures. Well, not everyone has the patience, time or money for these or even for that matter to follow the age-old mantra of regular exercising to reduce weight.

Today with everything available at your fingertips with a click, its highly unlikely that the general devil-may-care attitude of our Indian populace on weight reduction by exercising daily, will change. Therefore an obese or even slightly overweight person, is generally indifferent to the whole idea of any sort of physical exertion like exercises, yoga or activities like climbing stairs etc. for weight reduction, until a medical condition strikes! An easy way out beating this whole quagmire of lethargy, to even take an initiative to thwart obesity, can be by targeting one’s snacking habit when hunger strikes. Well, eating a food item will reduce weight? Yes, if its peanuts!

What research has to say?

Recent surveys conducted wherein school children under a nutrition intervention that included a snack of peanuts compared to other kids who didn’t receive it, showed a reduced Body Mass Index (BMI-an inexpensive estimate of an individual’s body fat). Peanuts or peanut butter are packed with protein and fiber, thus keeps one satiated for long, aiding in hunger management and curbing unhealthy snacking. Our body spends more energy digesting protein than it does to digest carbs or fats, facilitating an increased ‘metabolic rate’. This accounts for an increased resting energy expenditure by the body, as found in a research study, backing up the weight loss benefits of peanuts. Protein also aids in preventing fluctuations in the blood sugar levels that are responsible for those hunger blows, when the blood sugar levels nosedive. Fiber in the peanuts makes slows down the speed at which the food leaves the stomach by absorbing water and forming a gel-like mass to make you feel full for long. It is also thought to delay the release of the hormone ghrelin, which triggers the feeling of hunger.

Benefits of peanuts

Peanuts are digested slowly (low-glycaemic index) releasing sugar gradually into the bloodstream, providing long-lasting energy reducing the cravings one experiences. Their property of being a ‘healthy’ snack stems from peanuts being good sources of healthy monounsaturated fats (that lower cholesterol), B vitamins and antioxidants too. Its the ‘high satiety’ value of peanuts that helps you limit your daily portions of food, keeping those ‘extra’ calories in check, thereby helping to reduce weight indirectly. Peanuts have also been implicated to play a role in preventing heart disease, diabetes and many other chronic inflammatory disorders, making them a preferred ‘snack’ handsdown!!

Grabbing a quick burger or coffee to calm those hunger pangs inculcates a habit of skipping or having meals at odd timings due to a feeling of fullness acquired from consumption of sugar and calorie loaded junk foods. Resulting irregular levels of hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin) affect vital body processes of food absorption and assimilation, due to a slow digestion, thus spiking the insulin levels and food cravings. Body’s metabolism gets disrupted eventually, causing excessive fat accumulation, with elevated levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and imbalances in levels of thyroid hormones.

A regular and timely preventive health checkup can only estimate these levels going haywire well ahead, before obesity fuels any future health conditions like diabetes, etc. Meanwhile, combat obesity or rising weight by munching on the nutrient-dense peanuts, a healthy alternative than a bag of salty chips to keep a growling stomach at bay!