You know how after eating yogurt or oatmeal topped with nuts for breakfast, you sometimes aren’t even hungry when it comes time for lunch? There’s a reason for that, says science, and one that you might want to listen up to, as it could potentially help you keep from overeating.

Selection of dried fruits in jars

According to a new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there is science that can back up the fact that protein is one of the most important food groups you can eat. The study analyzed 33 previously conducted studies, and came to the conclusion that eating a high protein snack about an hour before a meal could help you eat significantly less at the meal itself. This snack — called a “pre-load” in diet speak — will keep you full enough to reduce your calorie intake during lunch or dinner.

So here’s how it works: Protein actually takes longer to digest than fat or carbohydrates, and uses up more energy in the digestive process. That means a calorie from a protein source goes farther than one from a fat or carb. Grab a small handful of almonds, a hardboiled egg or a carton of yogurt, and watch your body at work!

Find protein-focused recipes over on our Pinterest page!

(h/t Glamour. Photos via iStockphoto)