Updated 28th June 2023

How snacking impacts your health

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    Snacking can be a confusing and controversial topic. There are various opinions and myths about what's good for you.

    Many people struggle to make healthy choices, while others may be unaware of the impact of snacking habits on their gut health and overall well-being.

    Evidence shows that all over the world, people are snacking more — with the United Kingdom and the United States leading the way in unhealthy snacking habits. 

    But what exactly counts as a snack? And is all snacking unhealthy?

    In today’s episode, Jonathan is joined by ZOE regulars and renowned experts Sarah Berry and Tim Spector for an enlightening discussion that will help you snack smarter. 

    Armed with the latest scientific research, they unravel the complexities of snacking and share evidence-based insights about what's truly beneficial for your body. Along the way, they cover healthy options, snack timing, and what we should all be avoiding.

    If you want to uncover the right foods for your body, head to joinzoe.com/podcast, and get 10% off your personalized nutrition program.

    In today’s episode:

    Follow ZOE on Instagram.

    Episode transcripts are available here.

    Is there a nutrition topic you’d like us to explore? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to cover it. 

    ZOE Science & Nutrition

    Join us on a journey of scientific discovery.


    [00:00:00] Jonathan Wolf: All right. Well, Sarah and Tim, thank you for joining me today.

    [00:01:14] Sarah Berry: Pleasure. Great to be here.

    [00:01:16] Tim Spector: Good to be here in person.

    [00:01:18] Jonathan Wolf: Very exciting. So this is the very first podcast that we've done in real life, and I didn't actually realize you could do podcasts in real life. So we've been sort of upgraded and we're gonna try not to mess it up too much.

    [00:01:30] Tim Spector: Why are you looking at Sarah?

    [00:01:32] Jonathan Wolf: So you can see we're really not used to this, so Sarah's like, am I supposed to say something now?

    [00:01:37] Tim Spector: We're all looking at Sarah to mess it up.

    [00:01:39] Sarah Berry: I was gonna say how lucky I am to spend a few hours with both of you, but then I didn't want to make Tim's head any bigger,

    [00:01:48] Jonathan Wolf: So I think although we are in person, I think we should stick to the normal flow of these. And of course, we always start with a quick fire round of questions from our listeners. And just to remind everybody, the rules are, you can say yes. A no, or maybe, and what I'd like to do is reach them for a change.

    Have Sarah answer and then Tim answer afterwards, because I think this is a topic that we may have some fun with today. Are you ready to go?

    [00:02:13] Sarah Berry: All set.

    [00:02:14] Jonathan Wolf: Brilliant. All right. Are most people eating the wrong snacks?

    [00:02:20] Sarah Berry: Yes,

    [00:02:21] Tim Spector: Oh yes.

    [00:02:22] Sarah Berry: Tim. We've agreed on something. We can go home now.

    [00:02:27] Jonathan Wolf: I snack every day. Is it bad for my health?

    [00:02:30] Sarah Berry: Maybe.

    [00:02:32] Tim Spector: Maybe.

    [00:02:34] Jonathan Wolf: And this is something my mom always told me. Is it true that snacking spoils your appetite?

    [00:02:40] Sarah Berry: maybe.

    [00:02:43] Tim Spector: I'd say yes,

    [00:02:44] Jonathan Wolf: Okay. What's worse? A mid-morning snack or a mid-afternoon snack?

    [00:02:49] Sarah Berry: Well, I can't answer that with a yes or no, can I? So that's not very fair.

    [00:02:53] Jonathan Wolf: I've messed up. You're allowed to answer the mid-morning or mid-afternoon,

    [00:02:56] Sarah Berry: mid-afternoon.

    [00:02:58] Jonathan Wolf: No idea. Okay.

    [00:03:00] Tim Spector: Pass.

    [00:03:00] Jonathan Wolf: Can snacking lead to inflammation?

    [00:03:03] Sarah Berry: Yes.

    [00:03:04] Tim Spector: Yes,

    [00:03:06] Jonathan Wolf: And finally, and you're allowed a whole sentence on this, what's your favorite snack?

    [00:03:11] Sarah Berry: Oh, crisps in the day. Chocolate at night.

    [00:03:15] Tim Spector: cashew nuts.

    [00:03:29] Jonathan Wolf: All right, we'll come back to that later. So I think as always, it's good just already to start at the beginning and we had so many questions about snacking.

    From our community and we thought, actually it'd be fun to do our own little survey cuz you know, we believe a lot in, in data at ZOE. So we asked our community whether they thought snacking was healthy and we had thousands of responses and actually looks like there was almost a complete three-way split.

    So 36% of people said that, yes, snacking is healthy. 32% said no. And interestingly, 31% said they didn't know. Okay, so it's clearly a very controversial topic and I think it'd be a lot of fun to sort of unpack that today. But before we start to get to the question of, you know, is it good or bad, could we actually just sort of start at the beginning and you know, Sarah, as a nutritional scientist, what is a snack?

    [00:04:18] Sarah Berry: So there's actually no clear definition of a snack that's agreed amongst the nutrition community. So we can think of it either as an eating event between a main meal, so any eating event between your breakfast and lunch. Lunch, your lunch and dinner or an eating event after your dinner. This is how we typically refer to a snack.

    However, most people think of a snack based on the food that they're eating, rather than as an eating event between a meal. So most people might think if they have a pack of crisps, even if they're having it at the end of the meal, that that's a snack.

    [00:04:51] Jonathan Wolf: And how much of the population, you know, actually has snacks. If we think about it as those, like, you know, the eating between meals as you're describing, how common is that?

    [00:05:00] Sarah Berry: so in the UK and the US, about 25% of our energy comes from snacks. 

    [00:05:06] Jonathan Wolf: 25% of all our energy comes from snacks.

    [00:05:08] Sarah Berry: let's say, I know we don't like to talk about typical people, but let's take a typical person consuming 2000 calories. That is 500 calories coming from snacks. Now it does differ depending on age where you live, but also differs country to country.

    And I think this is really interesting because in the Mediterranean for example, only about 14% of energy comes from snacks. Yet in some northern European countries about. 30% of energy comes from snacks, which is huge. But really importantly, in the uk, in the us, 75% of the energy that's coming from snacks is coming from really unhealthy snacks, these ultra processed snacks.

    [00:05:44] Tim Spector: But it's really cultural isn't, I mean, you know, Having spent time in South Italy and Spain, France, you just don't see people having snacks at a bus stop. The idea that you'd have a meal on the go or a snack on the go is just not part of that culture. So I was quite in, you know, in writing my book on.

    Potato snacks and things, those big section on crisps and found that actually the French eat more crisps than the

    [00:06:13] Jonathan Wolf: is that right?

    [00:06:13] Tim Spector: Yes. if you look at the actual wholesale amounts, but they have them with their meal. Or they would have them as an aperitif just before the meal with, with the drinks that are served just before.

    So in a way, it's sort of nearly at the same time as the main eating event rather than a completely separate eating event. And that might be why they end up. Having less problems with those snacks than, than we do. But the idea of, you know, dividing your day into sort of six eating episodes is totally alien to many countries.

    And yet in the UK and the us you know, Australia can't, or the English speaking countries, it's, it's standard now. It's, and, and that's because governments for the last 30 years have generally been saying eating little and often is a good thing. And I think that's what we have to bear in mind that many people were brought up on that.

    Uh, and it didn't seem to matter what you are eating little and often. And as Sarah's pointed out, unfortunately we've got into the position where what we're eating is pretty rubbish.

    [00:07:14] Sarah Berry: In France it’s interesting actually cuz, so in France only about 10% of pupil snack. If you compare that to the uk, 85% of people in the UK report snacking now. The average amount of snacks in the UK that are consumed a day about two and a half to three snacks. So that goes back to Tim's point that we are having about six to seven eating events.

    So occasions that we are eating throughout the day, yet you take Mediterranean countries, or particularly France, they tend to be about four.

    [00:07:42] Jonathan Wolf: It's interesting, the difference, and I, I do remember my grandmother's. Sort of talking about the fact that, you know, when she was young, the idea that you would eat food or even like drinks walking around was sort of socially unacceptable. So just so you just wouldn't have imagined doing it.

    And so that's clearly been a very big trend, I have to say, when I go to Mediterranean countries, I feel like that trend is shifting, to be honest, Tim. So I feel like you, you know, all of these things are more Americanized than they were, and there's this huge rise in obesity in France and elsewhere. So I guess that there's a sort of idealized past.

    [00:08:12] Tim Spector: The graphs are all going in the same direction, every country. It's just the base was very different. We are just in the UK and the US so far ahead in the unhealthy scale that that. That's the difference. But yes, the pressures of marketing snacks is universal around the world, and I think it, even with the best cultures, they're all under pressure to eat snack more because that's where the money's being made.

    [00:08:38] Jonathan Wolf: So I, I'd love to talk about what happens when we snack and Sarah, you know, you spent 30 years really understanding exactly what happens in our bodies in the, you know, the minutes and hours after we eat. Can you help us to understand, you know, I've gone and I've met Tim and I've refused to have.

    [00:08:56] Sarah Berry: Tim’s not offered you a snack

    [00:08:57] Jonathan Wolf: I agree. So I've gone and decided that I'm going to have a, you know, a chocolate quest on to go with it. What happens at this point?

    [00:09:04] Sarah Berry: So I think it's first important to say what the typical composition of a snack is. And so snacks in the UK in the US tend to be high in carbohydrates, high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, high in fat, high in unhealthy fat. Saturated fat, and low in protein. And low in fiber. Okay, so what's happening is when you are eating a snack, you are eating a high.

    Refined carbohydrate snack, a high saturated fat snack. And so what this does is it causes a increase in circulating blood sugar that peaks around 30 minutes, returns to baseline around two hours, and often dips as well below baseline, then the fat. That's in the snack causes an increase in circulating blood fat that kind of creeps up throughout the day if you're having multiple eating events.

    So you are in this kind of state of metabolic chaos is the best way to think about it. If you're having lots

    [00:09:55] Jonathan Wolf: And that's because these snacks are basically hitting you much harder than a, a sort of regular, let's assume it's not at a sort of ultra processed meal, but a, a sort of reasonably plant based, reasonably fiber rich food. These snacks are just sort of hitting all of these things much more than a normal meal.

    [00:10:12] Sarah Berry: So it depends, obviously on the composition of the snacks. Not all snacks are the same. So I'm talking about the unhealthy snacks, the snacks that…

    [00:10:21] Tim Spector: Like what? Sorry. Give us an example.

    [00:10:22] Sarah Berry: So light crisps, like cakes, like chocolates, like pastries. So, particularly high in refined carbohydrates and particularly low in fibrin protein.

    [00:10:30] Jonathan Wolf: a lot of these bars and things like this as well, you know, I know Sarah, you've told me they're, they're actually very similar, right? So they look like they're really healthy for you, but actually they're behaving in a similar way.

    [00:10:41] Sarah Berry: A lot of the time, so it depends on the bars. Some of the bars do have whole nuts in them, which will behave slightly differently. But most snack bars, again, what will happen is, is you'll absorb all the nutrients really quickly into the bloodstream. So you have this really. Quick, rapid rise in circulating blood sugar that sets off a cascade of quite unfavorable effects, including inflammation.

    What often happens is you also get a dip in blood sugar about two to four hours after having these refined carbohydrate snacks. And we know from our own ZOE Predict research that this causes an increase in hunger. It causes an increase in energy intake, and it also causes you to eat more at your next meal.

    [00:11:22] Jonathan Wolf: And you've talked a bit about this in the past, haven't you? This sort of thing. You're on a sort of rollercoaster rollercoaster where you're hungry. So you go and eat this like very refined thing. Cause you're like, oh, I really need this energy. Like your blood sugar shoots up, then it crashes a few hours later and makes you hungry.

    So therefore you do it again. And so you're on this sort of miserable repetition of something which is just sort of banging and banging away at your or your body. Is that

    [00:11:44] Sarah Berry: Yeah, absolutely. And I think something that else that's quite interesting that happens is, is often your increase in blood sugar isn't quite high enough to suppress your hunger hormone. So you have a hormone that circulates called ghrelin, and now if you have a big meal, The increase in blood sugar causes an increase in blood insulin, and that causes a suppression of this particular hormone, but you don't suppress it enough, so you carry on feeling hungry as well.

    And I think that's another small problem with multiple snacks. 

    [00:12:14] Tim Spector: A lot of these snacks that people are having, most of the, are ultra processed, which means, you know, they're, they have using extracts of real food to sort of camouflage real food, and we know those chemicals are bad for the, the garden. And how much of, is that an effect, do you think, on this repeating cycle and making you hungrier?

    [00:12:36] Sarah Berry: So I think there's lots of problems with old processed snacks that are the same, apply to any old processed foods, so you have the problem that they tend to be able to be eaten more quickly. And we've done a podcast on eating rate before, so that actually you tend to eat them about 40% faster than if it was a whole food version of their food.

    What then happens is, is you are consuming more calories because you're not allowing the time for your hunger. Signals to go to your brain. So it takes about 20 minutes, but you're honking the signals to go to your brain to say, well, I'm full stop eating. We also know with those kind of old processed snacks, they get absorbed in a slightly different area of your gut, so they get absorbed higher up your gut, and so you again, release less of these fullness hormones, so you're not getting the same signals going back.

    And I can hear your tummy rumbling. You need a snack,

    [00:13:29] Tim Spector: I do. I see. Yeah, I skipped breakfast so I could do my time restricted eating. So yeah, I'm pretty in need of, I'm not sure. One of your snacks.

    [00:13:38] Jonathan Wolf: and Tim. Tim was a bit punchy earlier, so now we know he hasn't actually had any food. So even Tim, even Tim could get hangry. 

    [00:13:45] Tim Spector: I’ve got high energy levels. I'm good.

    [00:13:48] Sarah Berry:  but as well as with many of these, the additives, you know, the emulsifiers we know, you know, as I mentioned earlier, they tend to be higher in carbohydrate, higher in unhealthy fats, low in protein, and low in fiber. But interestingly, if you. Give people healthy snacks. And I've done a study at King's College where we fed people for six weeks, either healthy snacks, which were nuts, you know, I like my nuts.

    [00:14:16] Tim Spector: to carefully define healthy snacks, but. We are gonna get onto that, I'm sure, but,

    [00:14:19] Sarah Berry:  and we provided 20% of energy to people, even the form of nuts. Or we provided 20% of energy to people in the form of atypical UK snack. And we actually spent a lot of time developing this typical UK snack, which obviously I gave in the form of muffins, but it was representative of the nutrient composition of let's say, you know, some walker's crisps, some Cavs, dairy milks and cakes and pastries.

    And when we fed. They're nuts. For six weeks, two individuals, we had a significant improvement in the functioning of their blood vessels. We had significant improvement in their heart rate variability, which we know is a really novel marker telling us about heart health. And we also had improvements in cholesterol.

    When we fed people the typical UK snacks. We had no change in any of these outcomes, which we would hope for because they're representative of what people are actually consuming.

    [00:15:15] Jonathan Wolf: And Tim, what about what's going on inside the gut? So I think it seems, if this is like 25% of the food that people are eating, then actually the snacks that we're eating are like, you'd have, you know, quite a big impact there.

    [00:15:26] Tim Spector: Yes. I mean, statistically most people in the country are eating unhealthy snacks. Most people are eating high amounts of ultra processed food, so that's boosting. The already high levels of intakes of ultra processed foods and chemicals in the population, and we have the highest levels, in the uk, in Europe, the US has the highest in the world.

    These figures are going up, and snacks are a major component of that because people don't think of them, in that context, don't realize how many they're, they're having. They don't realize because often they have healthy labels on them. Saying they're high in protein or they're low in salt, or you know, less, less sugar cuz they've got artificial chemicals instead.

    So people often might think they're having healthy snacks and actually they're contributing to this general increase in chemicals, all of which we now know. Have adverse effects on the gut microbes, whether it's the emulsifiers, it's the artificial sweeteners, some of the preservatives, some of the gums, some of the xola tolls, all these, these sugar alcohols, all these things, many of which we still don't totally understand.

    Negative effects on the gut, which are gonna give long-term problems, so not the sort of. Problems that Sarah's talking about, the immediate hunger and et cetera, but reducing the state of the gut microbes, reducing the immune system, you know, ability to respond properly. And so that's one major factor why the gut health of western populations is getting worse and we're getting more susceptible to diseases and cancers and aging, et cetera.

    And it's a small, slow. Process. It's not something that you can sort of see immediately, but all the experimental studies, when you actually put these chemicals together into gut models, you, you show this.

    [00:17:16] Jonathan Wolf: So I think one of the interesting things about this topic is that like a lot of. Areas of nutritional science. Right. It's quite controversial, you know, as Sarah's told me before, like it's not something that's been studied in a lot of detail. And of course part of that is it's really, it's been historically very hard to measure what people are actually doing at home.

    Before we had phones and these devices and, you know, sort of very large scale studies. So before sort of revealing your own personal views on,  snacking, I thought we'd fun to maybe just start with like, what are all the reasons why it might. Be bad. And then maybe we talk about the other side. So you know, what are the arguments for why snacking actually is unhealthy?

    [00:17:57] Sarah Berry: I think when we think about snacking, we need to break it down first, Jonathan, in. To three different areas. So firstly, is it the snacking frequency? I having lots of meals throughout the day that's bad. Is it to do with what we are snacking on? So snacking quality or is it to do with the timing of snacking?

    And this is something that we've been looking at with our own ZOE Predict research, but also there's other randomized control trials that have looked at this. And I think an important. Place that perhaps we could start is around the eating frequency. I think it's really clear from what Tim

    [00:18:29] Jonathan Wolf: in normal words is just how often do I eat

    [00:18:32] Sarah Berry: how often do you eat. We call it in nutrition research, you know, your eating events or eating occasions.

    [00:18:37] Jonathan Wolf: what's the, what, what is the concerns about this sort of snacking frequency, Sarah? So,

    [00:18:42] Sarah Berry: originally the data actually showed that people that had more eating events so snacked more frequently actually had lower B M I and were healthier. And so this is why I think historically people were encouraged maybe 20 years ago or so to say, to actually have little, and often…

    [00:19:00] Jonathan Wolf: that sounds good.

    [00:19:01] Tim Spector: Grazing, not gorging, it was called, yes, supposed to be like cows rather than like lions.

    [00:19:08] Jonathan Wolf: Ah,

    [00:19:09] Sarah Berry: Oh, I love that

    [00:19:10] Jonathan Wolf: Yeah, it's never a good, I originally can see that being like a cow rather than lion doesn't really sound that good, does it?

    [00:19:16] Sarah Berry: Well, I certainly eat like a cow. Tim eats like a lion,

    [00:19:19] Jonathan Wolf: so what is the view now?

    [00:19:22] Sarah Berry:  so when researchers actually went back and looked at all of the data, what they realized is that they were including a lot of what we call under reporters in the analysis.

    So lots of people actually don't report what they eat very accurately. And so there were lots of people that were actually reporting that they were eating only half of what in reality they were eating. So, If they excluded from their analysis, all of these people that had not really been telling the truth about what they're eating, what was quite clear is that the people that were eating more often, so more of these eating events tended to be consuming more energy and they tended to have a slightly higher B M I, so they were slightly overweight.

    What's really interesting though, is that over the last 10 years or so, there's. Been lots of randomized control trials now that have been looking at how people behave in terms of their health, depending on whether they have three meals a day, or whether they have six or even up to nine eating events a day.

    And all of this data seems to show that as long as people are snacking on healthy foods, there doesn't seem to be any difference in either. Weight or any, what we call cardiometabolic health outcomes. So factors related to cardiovascular disease or type two diabetes, and there seems to be no difference depending on whether you are eating three meals or having six or even up to nine eating events a

    [00:20:43] Tim Spector: well that's if they're eating healthy meals, which 90% of people don't.

    [00:20:46] Sarah Berry: Okay, so that's why we needed to break it down into the three areas. So firstly is eating multiple times throughout the day bad for us. And I think the evidence shows if it's unhealthy food then it's not unfavorable. And our ZOE Predict research really clearly shows this as well, that for people that are eating on healthy snacks rather than snacking on unhealthy food, that there's no unfavorable effect on any of these outcomes.

    [00:21:12] Tim Spector: Can you caveat that with breakfast though, you know my views on skipping. Breakfast and the meta-analysis that shows the breakfast might be the exception. So I think what we're talking about is during the day, you know, between say lunch and dinner, if you have snacks and they're healthy, there's no evidence that that's particularly bad.

    But there is accumulating evidence that skipping breakfast, having having a longer fasting, Period. And so people having two main meals rather than three because of that breakfast are slightly healthier and certainly no worse, which is what we previously believed to be the case. So I think again, it comes to the point on timing and that's, I just wanna raise that caveat that breakfast might be the exception to this.

    Uh, whereas snacky events during the day, you know, Sarah's, you know, spot on that, that's exactly right.

    [00:22:07] Sarah Berry: Thank you. Tim. Can we make sure that I get to hear Tim so many times that I'm spot on?

    [00:22:13] Tim Spector: Can we cut that clip?

    [00:22:15] Sarah Berry: first time in five years

    [00:22:17] Jonathan Wolf: you were saying that one part of this is frequency, so how often you eat, what else

    [00:22:21] Sarah Berry: Then there's the quality, which we've talked about. So given that 75% of snacks are heavily processed and we know unhealthy for us, that's where we have a huge problem.

    And given that we know that if they're high quality snack, They don't tend to have any unfavorable effects if we're having multiple snacks. And then even from like randomized controlled trials, like the ones that I've run at Kings, where we give people snacks, but healthy snacks. Where we see an improvement, again, is evidence to show that the type and the quality of snacks really important.

    And then the third factor is the timing. And I think this is what's really interesting and really important, and I think this is something that people should really try and modify rather than worrying about. You know how many snacking events they're having, so as well as modifying the quality of the snacks, the timing of your snacks, and a ZOE Predict Research really clearly shows that if you are snacking late, so after six or very late after 9:00 PM.

    Which actually 35% of people do that. It has really unfavorable impacts on your health and there's lots of other randomized control trials to support that. Eating late in the evening on these  unhealthy snacks actually has an unfavorable effect on our health.

    [00:23:38] Tim Spector: So that's, yeah, I mean, and that's very much a culture, you know, you've seen this. If you watch Gogglebox, everyone's watching tv. And on their sofa and they've got plates of sandwiches and cakes and, with their mugs of, of tea and coffee. 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.

    And this is become part of our traditional culture. It never it didn't used to be. And I think that's exactly the worst time to be eating these, these foods and being promoted.

    [00:24:15] Jonathan Wolf: I literally have Tim's voice in my ear every night as after dinner. You know, I go down, sit in front of the TV and eat half a bar of dark chocolate, which also I was told is really hard to eat half a bar or two thirds of a bar of dark chocolate. But it's that nobody's trying, people aren't trying hard enough.

    [00:24:33] Tim Spector: you're the exception to the rule. 

    [00:24:35] Jonathan Wolf: now it is dark chocolate, so it's clearly a lot better than a lot of these things. And I would like to talk a bit about more about the snack quality, cuz I, I think I've just had a lot of personal experience about, you know, sort of the way that by swapping out the sorts of snacks I've had definitely changes the way that my hunger and my mood affects during the day.

    But I do always think of Tim as I'm like, yeah. No, I'm still gonna have that dark chocolate. And I try and make myself feel better by thinking that in Spain, they haven't even had dinner yet. Tim, you know, I went to Spain over the holidays recently and they eat incredibly late. So they clearly are eating until very late.

    So do we know how much of this, again, is about. There's these two different things here, aren't there? One is like the quality of your snacks, and you're saying that almost everybody's eating like very poor quality snacks, so it's sort of obvious. Then if you're eating more of the snacks, you're just having a much worse diet.

    So that's obviously a very big part of this. And then there's also these things you're describing about the frequency and, and how late they are, and that you're saying, you know, each time you eat this, you're still gonna have these impacts on blood sugar and, and blood fat. You know, if, if somebody's listening to this, how much of this is about the quality of the.

    The snack, do you think, and how much is these other factors should they be worrying about?

    [00:25:47] Sarah Berry: Can I pick up on the time of day quickly, just so that. We can illustrate just how important that is beyond like these, you know, peaks and troughs that we talk about with blood glucose. And there was a really interesting study that came out last year that I think really nicely illustrates what's going on by eating late in the day.

    And in this study, they gave people exactly the same food over exactly the same time period, but half of the people had the food. Slightly earlier in the day, and the other half had the same food slightly later in the

    [00:26:21] Jonathan Wolf: So they were told when they could eat is that they were sort of controlled like you can eat between this time and this time.

    [00:26:25] Sarah Berry: Yep, exactly. Those people that are having it later in the day, despite eating late in the evening, woke up the next morning, lots more hungry than the people that were finishing their food a lot earlier in the day. So eating late in the day has a couple of different unfavorable effects. One is you're waking up feeling more hungry.

    So I don't know whether. You wake up feeling more hungry probably than Tim because you are snacking late in the evening. But also we know that it's unfavorable because it goes against your body clock in terms of how you metabolize the food. So you get these unfavorable peaks and troughs that we talked about.

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    [00:27:01] Tim Spector: But, in Spain, interestingly, you know, I spent a lot of time in there as well, and yes, they eat ridiculously late, but most of them don't have breakfast or they would have a, a coffee or a tea as their only breakfast, so they wouldn't be having a. Anything substantial until lunchtime. So the problem is for someone from the UK or you know, us going to these countries, they're used to their timing and going to their same bedtime, and they'll, they'll be pushed to have, you know, food much closer to going to bed, which isn't healthy either.

    So you do need this, this time when everything switches down. And it goes back to this, this whole time restricted eating. Idea of having this at least a 12 hour window, between your overnight meals, before you ingest anything substantial.

    [00:27:49] Jonathan Wolf: Can you remind us why we now think that having that sort of long window of not eating, you know, overnight is important?

    [00:27:58] Tim Spector: There are a number of reasons for this. One is that the body needs time to recover and that it's part of our circadian rhythms that all the cells in our body have the same 24 hour clock and they have periods of work and then rest and then repair. So all the cells are repairing during that time and they don't want to be confused with new.

    Food being sent down as if it's, you know, we've gotta suddenly wake up so all the cells in our body have a repair mechanism. All the general debris of cellular work gets throw that gets cleaned up in that time. And our gut is exactly the same. So our gut microbes completely change composition when we're not eating.

    They send out like a cleaning team that goes and cleans up our gut lining and that improves our efficiency. And everything's clean and ready for the morning, and it helps our metabolism. That's our energy management system. So the more we do that, more, we're in sync with our sort of natural rhythms and the body is in complete rest, and our gut is in complete rest.

    So that's the sort of general concept

    [00:29:06] Sarah Berry: And Tim, do you know something that's really interesting? I think with this whole idea of time restricted eating and giving your body rest is studies that have  had people consuming exactly the amount of energy. But where some individuals consume it in a shorter period, so they have a greater rest despite having exactly the same energy intake.

    The people that have the greater period of rest actually have improved metabolic outcomes. So they have less inflammation, they have better glucose control, better blood lipids, and that's despite eating exactly the same. I think that's really fascinating.

    [00:29:40] Tim Spector: energy, and that's what our big IF study. Showed that despite this, energy levels and mood improved, people weren't sort of hangry.

    [00:29:52] Jonathan Wolf: I was gonna say my, like, my personal experience out of this, which is really interesting, is I don't really like intermittent fasting. I tried. It for that study and I turned out these things were always personalized. I'm in the less than 50% who really struggled with it, but I discovered that I could actually go to the gym in the morning and do like a normal session at the gym with no breakfast and perform exactly the same as I had done with breakfast.

    And I had always assumed, you know, think about all the marketing I've been exposed to since I was a small child, that like, oh, you need to have your energy before you go and do exercise. And that's the, you know, the. The energy drinks, right? We're all told, well, you better have that before you go and play football or whatever you need. And so I was genuinely really shocked. So I thought, well, I'm gonna do this intermittent fasting. I can't eat anything until midday. I'm going to go to the gym in the morning. It's gonna be really difficult. And actually it was fine.

    [00:30:44] Tim Spector: Because our ancestors, you know, didn't say, well, I can't go hunting until I've had my breakfast. Well, you can't, you know, you can't get your breakfast until you've been hunting. So, you know, it's like, Obviously that can't be right. You know, so..

    [00:30:55] Jonathan Wolf: So I think that's really interesting

    [00:30:56] Sarah Berry: I'd have starved in those days, Tim

    [00:30:59] Tim Spector: Yeah. Waiting for the berries to drop off the tree.

    [00:31:02] Sarah Berry: Oh, I'd have been waiting for you to bring me my breakfast.

    [00:31:05] Jonathan Wolf: But I thought that's interesting. So it sounds like when you're talking about snacking, one thing is, you know, if it's, it is snacking, just extending the total amount of time that you're eating and if that suddenly really shrinks the amount of time you are, you are, your body's able to rest. That's one sort of big potential negative.

    If we switch to sort of. Between the time when you're gonna have your first meal and your last meal. I think one thing I'd, I'd love to ask, we had lots of questions about this, is what about the impact of snacking on, on weight gain? So lots of people said, well, surely I'm snacking more, I'm gonna be eating more calories.

    So it's sort of obvious, right? People who snack are going to put on more weight that's really bad for their health versus people who shouldn't snack and therefore, you know, snacking is, It's always going to be bad versus not. Is this right?

    [00:31:54] Sarah Berry: So I think the population studies show that people at snack more do eat more calories, but the clinical trials do not confirm this, so it doesn't play. In these very tightly controlled trials, and there was some interesting research where individuals were given on one day a meal of a set composition.  and then they monitored how hungry they felt for the next four hours, and then four hours later they were given free access to whatever food they wanted.

    Then on another occasion, the same individuals were given the same. Meal composition, but split over a number of eating occasions. So over the four hours they were given, I think about six times. And then what they found was that although during that four hour period they were still a little bit hungry throughout the four hour period, at the end of the four hour period, they were less hungry.

    And so they didn't go on to eat quite as much as the next meal as the people that had eaten the really large single meal earlier in the day.

    [00:32:56] Jonathan Wolf: So what you're saying, and, and we'll make sure I've got that right, is if people have snacks, then actually they might eat less of the following meal. So it's sort of balancing out over time. Is that what you are, you're saying? Rather than like, it's just guaranteed if you eat snacks, you're gonna eat more calories over time, you know, over 20 years, you're gonna weigh 20 kilos more because you're a snacker than the person who doesn't snack.

    [00:33:18] Sarah Berry: I think it's really variable though, between individuals. That's just one study, but I thought that was really an interesting one to illustrate.

    [00:33:24] Jonathan Wolf: And what about the impact on like your blood sugar and your blood fat? Because you know, there's a lot of people who have been saying, you know what, everything is about what happens to your blood sugar. You know, if you think about your blood sugar and keep that really stable, then you know, all your health problems will be solved.

    And it seems pretty obvious that if you were just to eat. Small amounts all the way spread through the day, right? So have no really big meals, but have, you know, 10 snacks. You're never going to create the same sort of big spikes and, and dips as you know, if you're having them in a smaller number. If that's the case, that would suggest that having lots and lots of snacks would be much healthier than having big meals.  What does the science say about this?

    [00:34:04] Tim Spector: Well, that was the old fashioned view. That was this grazing versus gorging was based sort of on that, on that idea. And that has been largely disproved by the real life studies. Sarah's probably got a view on why that is.

    [00:34:18] Jonathan Wolf: Yeah, I was gonna say, and how do we understand that?

    [00:34:22] Sarah Berry: So I think our blood sugar response is very complicated and there's lots of different features to it, and one of the features that we know is really important. Is the fluctuations, which is what you are talking about, where they might be small, but you have these kind of fluctuations throughout the day, so it's like a kind of mini rollercoaster almost.

    What we know is that if you have lots of fluctuations, even if they're small throughout the day, it seems to be associated with unfavorable long-term glucose control. So you have higher levels of something called H B a1c, which is a marker of elevated glucose. You have a poorer insulin sensitivity. What we do know though, is that if you have really big peaks in blood glucose, it does cause a bigger peak in inflammation than if you had these small peaks.

    What we don't yet know is, which is more unfavorable, we don't actually know whether a big. Single peak or lots of little ups and downs is worse for us. And this is the kind of thing that we're currently exploring in our ZOE Predict data. Something that was really interesting that I read quite recently, that picks up as well on the point Tim made earlier about this whole idea of personalization around snacking, not just on the basis that you and I want to snack and Tim doesn't need a snack, is that.

    We see that people are pre-conditioned to be able to respond to snacks if they are typical snackers. So there's been research where they've taken people like you and I who snack regularly and then put them on three meals a day, or taken people like Tim who just has his two or three meals a day and put people like Tim onto lots of regular snacks and it really mucks up.

    Their metabolism because your body's quite clever in a way, almost predicting, oh, I'm meant to be having an eating event soon. So for us, our bodies are predictive or predicting that we're going to be having eating events and seem to respond well to it. And so when we go onto Tim's style of eating, It's hard for us and our responses might not be as good.

    Likewise, when Tim goes onto our style of eating, which I'd love to try out, actually, that would be a fun experiment. I think he'll be happier because he's eating lovely food all day.  but actually he, he won't handle it as well as us and I think that's really interesting showing how

    [00:36:35] Jonathan Wolf: often this thing about like and the routine that our bodies have, all of these routines. I mean, one of the things that I've definitely sort of realized through all of the stuff with ZOE, sort of been more aware of my body is you start to become more aware of whether you are hungry or not.

    And I think that I was. Definitely sort of just trained by the environment I'm in to never, ever be hungry, right? Like that. That's just a bad thing at all points. And I think starting to understand a little bit between, oh, I'm really hungry and definitely I should go and have a snack versus like, I'm a little bit hungry. But actually that's all right. And potentially that's even going

    [00:37:09] Tim Spector: Well, that's having a Jewish mother, so you can't ever go hungry, so that's right. 

    [00:37:13] Jonathan Wolf: right? So. Maybe just to sort of wrap up the pros and cons, I'd love to talk a little bit, Sarah, about sort of this new ZOE research that you've been working on, specifically on, on snacking and sort of what have we found in our, our latest papers there, and why is that actually quite exciting in terms of, you know, why is this quite novel and, and the scale sort of really something we haven't had before?

    [00:37:35] Sarah Berry: So in the new Zero Predict research that hopefully will be published by the time this comes out, we looked at the snacking habits serve, participants from our Predict One study. So this was just over a thousand individuals and we tried to tease apart the impact of these eating frequency. So the number of times that we are eating in the day, the eating quality, so the snack quality, and then the timing of the snacks because this actually hasn't been done before.

    People have either just looked at how does eating frequency impact health? How does snack quality impact health? Or how does timing of day of eating anything impact health?

    [00:38:12] Jonathan Wolf: Sarah, some people listening will say, well, there's only a thousand people. That doesn't sound like a very big study.

    [00:38:16] Sarah Berry: That's a big study for nutrition research before I took part in all of the ZOE research, most of my studies were in about 20 individuals. Now, these previous studies were randomized crossover trials, and sometimes you can. Detect really meaningful differences in information from even 20 individuals.

    So to have a thousand individuals where we were collecting data in a really tightly controlled way in ZOE Predict, I think is not to be, sniffed

    [00:38:44] Jonathan Wolf: What if, what have you discovered?

    [00:38:46] Sarah Berry:  so what we found was that the frequency of eating was not associated with any unfavorable health outcomes. So having regular eating events throughout the day was not unfavorable.

    What we did find though, was the timing of the eating was really important, so timing of the snacking and also the quality.

    [00:39:07] Jonathan Wolf: and so timing, this is again, meaning that if you eat really late at night.

    [00:39:12] Sarah Berry: so what we found was that 35% of people were snacking after nine o'clock in the evening, and those people that were snacking after nine o'clock in the evening, even if they were unhealthy snacks, had an unfavorable association with body mass index. So body weight and other factors related to cardiovascular disease such as our blood fats and our blood sugar.

    What we found though is that people who were eating their snacks earlier in the day, if they were high quality, didn't have any of these unfavorable effects.

    [00:39:44] Jonathan Wolf: And I think that's really... So to me it was really surprising, but also I think for me it's sort of reassuring, which suggested that if you were able to switch from the sort of snacks that almost everybody is eating today to high quality snacks, and we can come onto that in a minute, then this suggested.

    That you might be fine with that, which doesn't mean you need to be encouraged to snack like that, but you know, my takeaway was I've made a big shift in the sort of things that I eat. And so I have a big ball of nuts always kind of next to the computer and mid-afternoon, like often I am hungry and I will eat a whole bunch of nuts and I, and I find that reassuring.

    Also because it's definitely changed the sort of the dynamic of of my hunger because you know something, you know, lots of people always have said, well, nuts, they're really high in calories. Right? They're really high in fat. You're definitely gonna put on lots of weight if you're eating those. But interesting.

    You know what, I see the difference between that and what I used to eat would, which would've been very much sort of high carbohydrate food is. You know, an hour or two hours later, I'm just not really hungry. So you eat a whole bunch of these nuts and you just feel full for a lot longer. Whereas when you're eating these sort of high carbohydrate meals, at least in my case, you know, it's definitely feeling full temporarily and then tending to have this crash, which I now know like I really actually do have with my blood sugar.

    So does that mean that everyone should just be like eating nuts all the time, Tim, where, you know, should we be positively encouraging snacking or what's your view on this?

    [00:41:20] Tim Spector: No, I, I think we should have a much more nuanced view on it. I don't think we need to snack. Most countries don't snack, and I think we've gotta realize we are the outlier here because we've been pressured by the food industry to buy these. You know, pseudo healthy products that are generally really bad for us.

    And you know, we are not being bombarded by nut manufacturers to eat stuff. We are bombarded by companies selling high protein bars that are full of artificial chemicals and sweeteners and things that are really bad for us. So in general, I would say, Eat your meals properly, spend more time having a full, proper meal just as they do in the Mediterranean countries.

    Have time to digest it, get the full appetite. But if there are people who like you, you know, perhaps one in three people that really feel the need, that they do need something between meals, it can't quite get enough like you guys then. Yes, snacking's. Okay. As long as it's not late at night, it's not after your main meal and you pick the right stuff and you thought pick unprocessed, you know, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, et cetera, and you don't go to something in a packet that is generally gonna be bad for you.

    [00:42:37] Sarah Berry: And I think it's really important we listen to our hunger signals. And so if I take my two children, for example, my daughter, Eats probably three meals a day and some snacks. When she first gets home from school, she sometimes doesn't even have her breakfast on a weekend till midday, so she's a little bit more like Tim.

    I've always taught my children to eat when they're hungry, but not when, not out of habit. My son, however, is like me and eats probably every hour to two hours now. They're both slim, they're both healthy and. I've allowed them to make those choices to listen to their hunger signals, and I think that that's really important that we make sure.

    It doesn't mean that people get into the habit of snacking just out of habit, but they do it because they're actually feeling hungry.

    [00:43:24] Jonathan Wolf: I feel like Tim probably still has a bit of a bias towards like, you know, not snacking unless you really need to. Like are you in the same place or are you. L I feel like there's a little bit of gap here between sort of your relative views on, on snacking within. So not if you're gonna do it in the middle of the night, but you know, between breakfast and, and dinner, say.

    [00:43:47] Sarah Berry: Well, Tim's wrong. I'm right. I think that both Tim and I are agreed definitely not to snack late in the evening. I think that we are agreed. That there's good evidence to show that if you have a good fast period and a small eating window, then it's healthy for you. I think that I'm a little bit more positive on snacking, providing its healthy snacks, than Tim is, but that's coming from a person that.

    Needs to snack that I know that if I don't eat for two or three hours, I get really hangry. And so it's very difficult sometimes to disentangle your own personal feelings, you know, from this as well.

    [00:44:31] Tim Spector: Yeah, no, I'm happy to go along with that, that we all have our personal biases and that does determine, you know, how we view these things. But I think it is important to look at a global perspective. Also look at our ancestors. Our ancestors, were not eating six or seven times a day. And that's how our, you know, we've, we've evolved and I think we need to realize that and realize a lot of our choices are habits, customs, culture, and advertising.

    You know, and I think we have to be just very aware of that and realize that you don't need, certainly don't need to snack for most people. Otherwise, humans would've evolved very differently.

    [00:45:10] Sarah Berry: Yeah, I think, as well, it's important to be aware that snacking frequency is increased. And it's increasing in the consumption of these unhealthy, ultra processed snacks. In the seventies, we had about 140 calories less from snacks than the amount that we're having now, and it's just continuing to increase.

    [00:45:30] Tim Spector: when I went to school in the sixties and seventies, we didn't bring any snacks to school and there was no real, we had, there was some school milk, which always was a bit smelly and, you know, not very

    [00:45:42] Sarah Berry: Oh, I remember that school. Did you have school milk?

    [00:45:44] Tim Spector: kids were allowed to go until lunch. But now you talk to, parents of of kids and that'd be horrified.

    The idea of sending little Johnny to school without his, his little, box and, and, and having some midday carbohydrate sugar. It is crazy how it's become part of the norm when actually it, you know, it never was. And this is all marketing.

    [00:46:07] Jonathan Wolf: I'd love to talk about actionable advice. So I think, you know, I think there's been a really great explanation about sort of where the science is. I think lots of people. Paul will be listening and say, okay, so what should I do that's different? And maybe we could actually start with like actual snack options.

    We had lots of questions from our listeners and you know, maybe just start with the first were, what do you think about crisps, chips, nuts and fruit as snack options?

    [00:47:25] Tim Spector: I'm a, you know, I'm a big fan of nuts and I think virtually all the nuts that are on offer, nuts and seeds are healthy. I don't think there's really any real exceptions unless they've been. Chemically treated and that you could get some of these, these nuts that are roasted in a bit of sugar and things there to be avoided.

    But generally plain ones, you know, look out if you are, if you have a sensitive to salt, you might wanna reduce some of those. But otherwise all those nuts and things are really healthy options and never discuss. They might actually reduce the amount you eat. Subsequently, and they're fantastic sources of protein, and fiber and other nutrients.

    Crisps is an interesting one, and the UK goes through enormous amounts of crisps,

    [00:48:05] Jonathan Wolf:  potato chips in the US,

    [00:48:06] Tim Spector: Potato chips. And again, there's a huge range actually in the quality of them. So the vast majority are highly processed, lots of artificial ingredients, et cetera. not very good for you. Some of them are not even made from potatoes, so,

    [00:48:26] Jonathan Wolf: a potato crisp without coming from a potato? How is that even…

    [00:48:28] Tim Spector: Well, most people think, there's a brand called Pringles, made by Proctor and Gamble that is one of the best selling ones in the world, and they are totally created in a factory, made from composites of all kinds of different, vegetables extracts to. Create something that looks like a potato, but actually isn't.

    So that's a good example of the worst kind of potato ish snack. And you go to the other extreme, you can get potato crisps with the skin on, which, adds fiber and. They can be cooked in extra virgin olive oil and actually there is just potato, just olive oil and just salt. And they are relatively healthy compared to other snacks.

    So I think it is about understanding, again, the quality of the food you are eating. Not making too many assumptions, but. There are within those categories, really good ones that people can have if they do, feel the need for a snack or they just wanna enjoy, you know, occasionally enjoy food.

    Which, you know, I think we all need to do. It's just not about prohibiting stuff. It's about having with friends, having a, you know, a beer or a glass of wine. What do you choose to serve at that time? Definitely go for high quality. Potato chips, crisps, and a bowl of nuts. I don't think anyone's gonna argue with that, with a few slices of apple that, you know, in general, everyone would agree.

    [00:49:55] Sarah Berry: You agree, Sarah? I would agree, and I think something that we need to bear in mind is for people that do snack, it does account for a huge proportion of their energy intake. So it's actually a fantastic simple dietary strategy to improve the quality of your diet. Most of the other meals that we have, for example, are dinner.

    We tend to have, or the majority of people do, tend to eat this as part of either a family or a social setting where you have less control over the food. But with snacks, they tend to be eaten in isolation. They're under what we call your own personal choice. So it's a really good way to improve the quality of your diet.

    And actually, a really interesting finding from the ZOE Predict studies that I was really shocked by is that 40% of people who have a high quality diet actually have a really poor quality. Intake of snacks. So I had assumed that if you have a high quality diet, well you are gonna choose healthy snacks.

    But actually we found that wasn't the case.

    [00:50:51] Jonathan Wolf: interesting. So you've got this big difference between what you're eating at your breakfast and your lunch. Yeah. And then the snacks, which doesn't surprise me so much because I get. S this is also the sense that it's a treat. But I guess the other thing that, just like my personal experience that we haven't really touched on very much is the way that, you know, your previous meal may affect your snacking and also just, you know, where you are.

    So, you know, if you're at home the whole time, it's a very different experience, right than if you are out, you know, and about and, and so. Maybe we could just, just cover, I guess, firstly that effect of the previous meal. Because one of the things I've noticed is that, you know, before I started to change my diet, I would tend to get really hungry, you know, a couple of hours after, you know, any of my meals.

    It was definitely like this very strong desire to eat and that was quite a, so the snacking itself has affected, it seems to me like in my personal experience by what I ate is this, is this just me or is there some real science behind this?

    [00:51:48] Sarah Berry: Well, we've seen with our own ZOE Predict study that what you have for breakfast can determine your blood sugar response to what you have at lunchtime, and that might go on to also impact how hungry you feel as well after that lunch meal. So I think that there's some evidence.  around that. What we also know is that if you are having, not the right balance of protein and fiber in your meal, then you are going to feel more hungry more quickly, and then you are going to more likely need to snack.

    [00:52:22] Tim Spector: So, yeah. And also sleep is the other thing. So if you're gonna have a poor night's sleep, you're going to be e searching for that high carb snack and your body, you know, oh, desperate for a kit cat, or, you know, or, or a chocolate bar or whatever it is when you really shouldn't. So your, your brain is playing tricks on you and, and, and trying to force you into some of the, these situations that Yeah, we've gotta realize, you know, so you got the, your own environment that you are controlling and then you've also, as you said, the food environment you're in.

    If you're in an area and you're surrounded by sweet shops and kiosks and that you know you're hungry and that's all you see is this range of confectionary or stuff in, you know, it's very hard to resist it. And we do have, in this country, a really different food environment to many other ones. And we keep comparing the Mediterranean country, they just don't have that.

    You know, you are walking down the road, you don't have those opportunities as much to just go and buy something rubbish. And if you don't, often, if you go another half an hour, you've forgotten about it. You know, it's, it's worn off. So the, the food environment I think is really important as well as, you know, what you eat.

    [00:53:30] Jonathan Wolf: I, I was gonna say my personal experience around this, cuz you know, Tim often talks about how he. You would like to skip breakfast, but for me, like eating breakfast and having a big breakfast means I have like a large part of my total eating where I have complete control over it. Cuz just myself, I'm not having to share that with any other parts of the family.

    I'm at home. So I've been able to have the ingredients that I want because actually, you know, if you're out. You know, in town and you've gotta figure out, and you're going to have your lunch, actually, that can be much harder to have control. And so I do think often a lot of this can be quite theoretical because it's based on like scientific studies where things are very controlled.

    But I, I mean, you know, My experience on the actionable advice is it's also a lot to do with your own lifestyle. So if you're gonna be at home the whole day, then actually yes, whether you eat at 8:00 AM or midday may not really change what you're going to eat. But actually, you know, if you eat at home, and I find when I'm eating this very different breakfast from the breakfast I used to eat, you know, I'm not starving,  a couple of hours later.

    Whereas otherwise, you know, I'm in town and you're just surrounded by lots of places selling delicious looking pastries and all the rest of these. These things and there's almost, there's, there's probably no options that are as good as the one you would've done before.

    [00:54:44] Tim Spector: Yeah, well that's one of the dangers of skipping breakfast is you've sort of gotta know what you're gonna have for lunch and where you're gonna be. And so you're not gonna be tempted as you are hungrier than normal. And I think that's, that's, that's another issue. I think, you know, as we are changing our eating habits, hopefully people, you know, are wanting to be healthier.

    Uh, I think this is one. And also our work life balance is, you know, where we are working and where we are is changing. These are things everyone needs to be thinking about.

    [00:55:14] Jonathan Wolf: Well look, I think we've covered a lot of ground today and I'd like to try and sum up which is more challenging in person. Cause I haven't been able to make the same notes as I might do if we were virtual. So, you know, I think we started by saying that the way that we snack in the US and the UK is both very different from the way we would've done 50 years ago and very different still from many other places.

    Particularly comparing with sort of the Mediterranean culture that we know tends to come out with the healthiest food. I think that. Amazingly, almost everybody is snacking. You said I think like 85%, of people are snacking and I think the depressing thing is only 25% of those people are snacking on foods that are, are seen as relatively healthy, which means 75% are eating really unhealthy, very ultra processed, and that many people are eating worse snacks than they are in the rest of their meals.

    So this is something that's really pulling down the quality of their food, that there are a number of. Different reasons why snacking might be affecting us. So one is that it might affect the amount of time that we're just eating overall. And it sounds like there's really quite a big emerging consensus that you'd really like to have 12 hours where you're not eating.

    So if you're snacking, you know, into the evening and then you're having your early breakfast, this could be really reducing the time when you're letting your body rest. So I think it sounds like. That is, you know, it's new and I know there's more studies going on, but it feels like you're both quite convinced about that.

    The second thing is eating quality and that, you know, the most important thing is like, what is it that you're actually eating? And that there are real opportunities to swap from,  the snacks that people are eating. But the problem is that. Almost everything that you might get in a store that says it's a snack is probably, you know, bad and you've really gotta go back to, you know, things that look more like real food.

    We've talked a lot about nuts. We've talked about fruit, we've talked about things that are less processed and that there's quite a lot of personalization in this. And then I think. The third thing, which is obviously the most controversial is sort of the, the number of times that you're snacking.

    And I think that, you know, Tim's preference would be if it's not a big problem for you, don't, don't really snack, eat these regular meals. Sarah, I think you are more relaxed about this as long as you've got that long gap overnight and the quality is there. And I believe that we hope to do some more, more sort of interventional studies in the future to try and really understand how to, how to unwrap these things.

    [00:57:44] Sarah Berry: Absolutely. I'm looking forward to some big studies.

    [00:57:46] Tim Spector: I think you've nailed it. Yeah. Very good.

    [00:57:48] Jonathan Wolf: Brilliant. Well, I'm hungry so I'm gonna go for a snack now.

    [00:57:51] Sarah Berry: My stomach's been rumbling the last 10 minutes. I'm ready for my snack

    [00:57:54] Tim Spector: Oh, I'm gonna wait till tomorrow.

    [00:57:57] Jonathan Wolf: Thank you all very much indeed.

    [00:57:59] Sarah Berry: Thank you. It's been fun doing it in person.

    [00:58:01] Tim Spector: been fun.

    [00:58:03] Jonathan Wolf: Thank you, Sarah and Tim for joining me on ZOE's Science and Nutrition today. If based on today's conversation you'd actually like to understand what are the right snacks for your body, then you may want to try ZOE's personalized nutrition program. The idea is by following this, you can feel more energetic, improve your gut health, and actually reduce your risk of long-term disease.

    As a member, you start by doing an at-home test. So we can understand how your body actually responds to the foods you eat, and then we take all of this data and we combine it with all the latest science from Tim and Sarah and all the other scientists we work with to build a personalized nutrition program for you.

    Your membership then comes with recommendations, not just on meals, but of course on the snacks. You should eat access to our nutrition coaches and scientifically back nutrition advice on how you should eat for your best health. If you're interested in learning more about ZOE, you can head to join ZOE.com/podcast and get 10% off your purchase.

    As always, I'm your host, Jonathan Wolf. ZOE Science & Nutrition is produced by Yella Hewings-Martin, Richard Willin, and Alex Jones here at ZOE. See you next time.

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