I'm a nutritionist – here's the WORST time of day to snack if you want to lose weight | The Sun

AN ENERGY bar in the lull between brekkie and lunch, crisps in the afternoon, some chocolate in the hour before bed.

Whatever your delicacy of choice, you might be one of the many Brits who has come to rely on snacks to keep their energy up throughout the day – or to satisfy a craving.

While you might not think of your snacks as a meal per se, they still fit under the category of what nutritional expert Dr Sarah Berry calls an 'eating event'.

The associate professor at King's College London and ZOE's chief scientist recently appeared on the gut health platform's 'Science and Nutrition' podcast to discuss all things snacking.

Speaking to ZOE co-founders Tim Spector and Jonathan Wolf, Dr Berry revealed that Brits typically have six eating events on a daily basis – including snacks and meals.

"In the UK and the US, about 25 per cent of our energy comes from snacks," Dr Berry commented.

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But she said 75 per cent of the snacks we consume are heavily processed, which isn't great for our health.

Think crisps, Cadbury Dairy Milks, biscuits and cakes, all of which are high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and unhealthy fat, but low in protein and fibre.

And Dr Berry told Tim and Jonathan that when we choose to consume a snack can be just as important as what we choose to indulge in.

What's the worst time of the day to snack?

“Research really clearly shows that if you are snacking late, so after six or very late after 9pm, it has really unfavourable impacts on your health and there are lots of other randomised control trials to support that,” Dr Berry said.

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According to the food scientist, about 35 per cent of people tend to nibble at something late in the evening.

As for why that is, Tim said TV might have something to do with it.

“If you watch Gogglebox, everyone’s watching TV. And on their sofa, they’ve got plates of sandwiches and cakes, with their mugs of tea and coffee," he pointed out.

"And in many parts of the UK, this is the tradition. You can’t really sort of watch TV unless you’ve got some snacks there.”

Dr Berry expanded on some of the negative effects of snacking late in the day.

"One is you're waking up feeling more hungry," she said, pointing to a study that compared people who ate their meals earlier in the day to people that had them later.

The scientist continued: "But also we know that it's unfavourable because it goes against your body clock in terms of how you metabolise the food."

What sort of snacks should I be having?

Dr Berry explained that when you eat an ultra-processed snack, "you are eating a high", putting you into a state of "metabolic chaos" that sends your blood sugar shooting up then down again.

The dip in blood sugar you experience about two hours after indulging in your crisps or cake can actually increase your huger rather than satiating it.

"It also causes you to eat more at your next meal," Dr Berry stated.

What will often happen with ultra-processed snacks is that you tend to eat them more quickly, which means you're not allowing enough time for fullness signals to reach your brain.

It's not just crisps and cake that do this.

Many snack bars that are marketed as healthy will make your body react in the same way, unless they have nuts in them, Dr Berry said.

So the quality of what you indulge in to get you through the day is hugely important.

Jonathan said he goes for dark chocolate when peckish.

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Other healthy snacks to opt for in the evening include:

  • Mixed nuts
  • Guacamole and chopped veggies
  • Fruit
  • Greek yoghurt and berries
  • Apple slices and peanut butter
  • Dark chocolate and almonds
  • Cucumber slices with hummus
  • Hard-boiled eggs

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