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July 25, 2023

Snacking after 9pm could be worse for your health: ‘Out of sync with your body clock’

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 1:07 am

If you’re one to regularly reach for more food after dinner it may pay to keep an eye on the time, with a new study suggesting snacking after 9pm could actually be worse for our health.

According to a lifestyle survey in 2022, nearly 40 per cent of Australians are snacking between meals during the day, and plenty of us are reaching for treats after dinner as well.

Now, new UK research has looked into the impact of late-night snacking on blood sugar levels, linked to the risk of type 2 diabetes, and blood fat level, linked to the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

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Cropped shot of an attractive young woman looking in her fridge for a midnight snack at home
Snacking too late at night could have a negative impact on your health. (iStock)

Close to 1,000 adults were asked to record every snack they ate over two to four days, before their blood sugar and fat levels were analysed.

The results, presented at NUTRITION 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, showed those snacking after 9pm had worse readings than those who did not snack at all after this time.

Researchers gave everyone a high-fat, high-carbohydrate muffin, then tested their blood. The normal spike in blood sugar and blood fats called triglycerides after eating was higher in people who reported having at least one snack after 9pm. General blood sugar level was also higher.

Factors like people’s weight, physical activity and how unhealthy their meals were generally, were also taken into account.

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Woman reaching for potato chips
Interestingly, snacking during the day did not have the same impact. (Getty)

Senior author of the study from King’s College London, Dr Sarah Berry, also said results indicated that people who snacked later at night “tend to choose more unhealthy snacks than those who snack earlier in the day”.

Eating too close to bedtime can also impact your metabolism.

“There is also evidence that snacking after 9pm is out of sync with your body clock, which may affect your metabolism,” Berry said.

“It also doesn’t provide your body much of a fasting period to recover after eating.'”

Interestingly, snacking during the day did not have the same impact, especially if snacks were generally considered healthy.

The study is now up for review by other scientists before it is officially published. 

“Although snacking makes up around a fifth of people’s daily calories, we don’t know much about it,” Berry said.

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Dietitian Susie Burrell

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