No matter how hard you try, more often than not, you just cannot resist taking a snack so late in the night. Yes, you know that it’s not good for your health to do so, but when you’re staying up late and you’re starving, naturally, you can’t help but grab a bite regardless of the consequences. Well, we have some good news for you, night owls – those snacks are not that bad as some might tell you. Here’s what you need to keep in mind, though.
Abby Langer, a registered dietician, suggests that “your total calories matter more than the timing.” Thus, the claim that you won’t burn off anything you eat right before bed is false. Namely, the fact is that your metabolic rate slows down at night, but it doesn’t stop, so “a reasonable snack that satisfies your hunger before bed isn’t enough to derail your healthy eating efforts,” Langer says. However, should you notice some symptoms of binge-eating disorder, you should, of course, do something about it, i.e., change your eating habits as soon as possible.
Furthermore, Langer claims that “if you go to bed hungry, you won’t sleep, which is probably worse.” So, no matter how late it is, you should always opt for eating instead of starving. Nonetheless, if that happens too often, it might be the sign that you’re not eating enough throughout the day. “If you restrict too much or fast during the day, your body will tell you it’s starving,” says Despina Hyde, diabetes expert at NYU Langone Weight Management Program.
When you choose to eat late, you should at least try to eat something light, something your body can digest without too much trouble. According to Hyde, it might be best to combine about 40% veggies, 40% carbs, and 20% protein. If possible, don’t go straight to bed after your meal. Try reading a book, watching TV, or even doing the dishes – whatever keeps you sitting for a while. That way, you reduce the risk of indigestion and acid reflux.
Finally, we should remind you to avoid fatty, spicy, super sugary, or caffeinated food. If you’re craving something sweet in particular, some fruit is always a better option than a chocolate bar. Langer also says that “complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads are great because they release serotonin when digested, which helps calm you down.”
Now, let’s move on to those nutritionist-approved snacks that you might want to try the next time you burn the midnight oil.
1. High-Fiber Cereal and Milk
Serving size: ½–¾ cup high-fiber cereal (like Kashi Go-Lean, All-Bran, Fiber One Twigs), ½ cup milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk, ¼ cup fruit (optional)
2. String Cheese or Babybel
Serving size: 1 Babybel round, 1 string cheese stick
3. Avocado or Hard-Boiled Egg on Crispbread
Serving size: 2 Ryevita or Wasa crispbreads, 1 hard-boiled egg or ¼ avocado
4. Banana With Peanut Butter
Serving size: 1 banana, 1–2 tablespoons peanut/almond/cashew butter
5. Fruit and Nuts
Serving size: ¼ cup nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts), ½ cup fresh fruit or ¼ cup dried fruit
6. Turkey Slices on Bread
Serving size: 2–4 slices turkey breast, 1 piece whole grain toast, 2 tomato slices or 6 cucumber slices
7. Greek Yogurt With Granola or Fruit
Serving Size: ¾–1 cup greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons granola or nuts, ¼ cup fruit
8. Cheese and Whole Grain Crackers
Serving size: 1 oz cheese, 4–6 wholegrain crackers
9. Whole Grain Toast With Nut Butter
Serving size: 1 piece whole grain toast, 1 tablespoon peanut/almond/cashew butter
Serving size: ¼ cup dry salted pitachios
11. Cottage Cheese
Serving size: ½–¾ cup cottage cheese, ¼ cup fruit or veggies (optional)
So, when you feel like reaching for some chocolate or some spicy food late in the night, you might want to reconsider your decision and try some of these excellent recipes instead. As already mentioned, eating before bed does not have to be as bad as some people might believe, but that still does not mean that you should eat just anything. That’s why we are here to help you with these ideas. Keep them in mind and enjoy your 1 a.m. snack.