Staying updated with the latest research findings is essential in providing effective guidance to clients seeking to improve their overall health and wellbeing. A recent study, “Snack quality and snack timing are associated with cardiometabolic blood markers: the ZOE PREDICT study”, sheds light on the relationship between snacking habits, their quality, timing, and their impact on cardiometabolic health. In this article, we will explore the key findings from this study and discuss their implications for fitness professionals.
The ZOE PREDICT Study
The study, conducted by Kate M. Bermingham and a team of researchers, aimed to investigate the connection between snacking behaviour and cardiometabolic health markers. Snacking is a common dietary behaviour that contributes significantly to daily energy intake, making it a crucial factor in assessing diet quality. The study was based on data from the UK PREDICT 1 cohort, which included 1002 participants. These individuals provided information on their demographics, dietary habits, health data (including fasting and postprandial cardiometabolic blood markers), anthropometric measurements, and stool metagenomics data.
- Snacking Prevalence: The study found that 95% of participants reported snacking at least once a day. On average, participants consumed 2.28 snacks per day, accounting for approximately 24% of their daily calorie intake.
- Snack Quality Matters: While the frequency and quantity of snacking were not significantly associated with cardiometabolic risk markers, the quality of snacks was a critical factor. The researchers introduced the Snack Diet Index (SDI), which ranged from 1 to 11, with higher scores indicating better snack quality. Lower SDI scores were associated with elevated fasting triglycerides, postprandial triglycerides, fasting insulin levels, insulin resistance, and increased hunger.
- Timing Matters: The study also examined the timing of snacking and found that late-evening snacking (after 9 pm) was associated with lower blood markers, including lower HbA1c levels and improved glucose and triglyceride profiles compared to snacking at other times of the day.
Implications For Us
These findings have several implications for fitness professionals who aim to help their clients improve their nutrition and overall health:
- Quality Over Quantity: Emphasise the importance of snack quality rather than focusing solely on the frequency of snacking. Encourage clients to choose nutrient-dense snacks that contribute to their overall diet quality.
- Late-Night Snacking: While it’s essential to tailor recommendations to individual preferences and schedules, inform clients about the potential benefits of late-evening snacking, especially for those with specific cardiometabolic risk factors.
- Individualised Approaches: Recognise that nutrition is highly individualised. Encourage clients to monitor their snacking habits and assess their impact on hunger, energy levels, and overall health markers.
To further strengthen the conclusions drawn from the ZOE PREDICT study, it’s important to consider other research in this area. Two additional studies that support the relationship between snacking, quality, timing, and health markers include:
A 2019 study published in Advanced Nutrition delves into the emerging field of personalised food timing recommendations and their potential impact on metabolic health and overall wellbeing. It provides valuable insights that support the argument of the original study, emphasising the significance of meal timing and its influence on health. Key points include:
- Interest in Personalised Food Timing: The study addresses the growing interest in personalising food timing recommendations for disease prevention and health improvement. This aligns with the original study’s focus on how meal timing affects cardiometabolic health.
- Modification of Food Timing: The study discusses the possibility of modifying food timing, suggesting that it is largely a matter of choice. This reinforces the original study’s argument that individuals can make choices about when and what they consume, which can impact their health.
- Factors Influencing Food Timing: It summarises various factors that influence when people choose to eat, including cultural, environmental, behavioural, and physiological factors. This supports the original study’s exploration of the relationship between meal quality, timing, and health outcomes.
- Vulnerable Populations: The study identifies vulnerable populations at risk of mistimed food intake based on experimental and epidemiological research. This aligns with the original study’s consideration of individualised approaches to nutrition guidance.
- Assessment Tools and Strategies: It discusses tools used to assess food timing and their limitations, which is relevant to the original study’s emphasis on measurement and evaluation.
- Practical Implications: The study suggests that the insights gained from this overview can inform the design of practical food timing interventions, public health programmes, and lifestyle recommendations. This echoes the original study’s call for fitness professionals to consider snack quality, timing, and individualised approaches in their guidance.
A 2022 study published by Nutrients, provides valuable insights into the relationship between meal timing, meal frequency, and metabolic outcomes in adults. It supports the argument that snack quality and timing play a crucial role in cardiometabolic health. Here’s how it aligns with the original study’s argument:
- Metabolic Syndrome Risk: The study highlights that individuals with metabolic syndrome face an increased risk of developing health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases. This aligns with the original study’s focus on cardiometabolic health markers.
- Modifiable Risk Factors: It emphasises that exercise and diet are key modifiable risk factors in the prevention and control of metabolic syndrome. The original study also addresses diet quality, reinforcing the idea that what and when individuals eat can impact their health.
- Dietary Patterns: The study underscores that dietary patterns and habits are successful in controlling metabolic syndrome risk factors. This aligns with the original study’s emphasis on snack quality as a determinant of diet quality and overall health.
- Meal Timing and Frequency: Importantly, the study acknowledges that meal timing and frequency have been associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This supports the original study’s argument that the timing of snacks and meals can influence cardiometabolic health markers.
The ZOE PREDICT study underscores the importance of snack quality and timing in shaping cardiometabolic health. Fitness professionals can use these findings to provide more tailored and evidence-based nutrition guidance to their clients. Emphasising the quality of snacks and considering the timing of consumption can be simple yet effective strategies for improving diet quality and potentially achieving better health outcomes.
- Bermingham, K. M., et al. (2023). Snack quality and snack timing are associated with cardiometabolic blood markers: the ZOE PREDICT study. European Journal of Nutrition, 1-11. Click here to review the full research article
- Dashti HS, Scheer FAJL, Saxena R, Garaulet M. Timing of Food Intake: Identifying Contributing Factors to Design Effective Interventions. Adv Nutr. 2019 Jul 1;10(4):606-620. Click here to review the full research article
- Alkhulaifi F, Darkoh C. Meal Timing, Meal Frequency and Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 21;14(9):1719. Click here to review the full research article
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