Late Night Snacks
Rethink Your Late Night Snacks
Yes, you can have a snack in the evening. But it has to be the right one.
Maybe it’s stress eating or maybe you’re a little bored and looking for a distraction. Perhaps it's just all those tempting food commercials when you're watching live TV. In any case, they all have the ability to add up and undermine any progress you're making with your fitness. Nutritionist Manuel Villacorta, RD says when you overeat before bed, your body is much more likely to store those calories as fat.
But that's not to say that an evening snack is a bad idea. If you're getting proper sleep and still waking up tired, it could be because of low blood sugar levels. “A bedtime snack can promote a good night's sleep and help you feel energetic in the morning,” says Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, education coordinator for the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology. She suggests a snack made up of complex carbohydrates and lean protein.
So when those late-night hunger pangs strike—and they will—put down the leftover pizza. This isn't the time for a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream. Go with one of these healthier options endorsed by dietitians and personal trainers that have everything you're looking for to keep you satisfied and are damn tasty too.
Late Night Snacks
If you want a lot of crunch, popcorn goes a long way to satisfy you. One serving of popped corn equals about five cups. It's low in fat, as well as calories and it's a whole grain that's packed with fiber. Most store-bought microwave popcorn has a lot of unwanted added chemicals, so dietitians suggest the air-popped variety. This is easy enough in the microwave. They sell special popping bowls or just put the kernels in a brown paper lunch bag and add a teaspoon of canola oil. Fold the top twice, place the bag (fold down) in the microwave, and cook on high for about three minutes. Add salt or sprinkle on a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.
Creamy cottage cheese is an indulgent snack packed with natural protein and helps fill you up without a lot of calories. Research has shown that a boost in protein intake can lead to a drop in unwanted weight. Cottage cheese also contains the essential amino acid tryptophan—known to help calm the nervous system, making it an ideal bedtime snack. And bonus, a 2018 Cambridge University study found that eating protein before bed can help you recover from workouts overnight.
A few spoonfuls of hummus and fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli and bell peppers makes for a sturdy snack when you're hungry for something crunchy and creamy. High-quality protein, valuable fatty acids and fiber leaves you feeling full without weighing down your stomach. Plus, you can make your own hummus in three minutes with just a can of chickpeas and a blender.
A handful of personal trainers told us this was their go-to snack or late night meal. From hard-boiled eggs (dusted with Old Bay seasoning) to a simple scramble, topped with hot sauce and a little feta cheese, they're as easy as they are affordable.
If you want something sweet but want to keep things natural and healthy, dried figs are an ideal option. Being dried, they're going to be chewy and full of flavor. But limit yourself to about four of these candy-like fruits. They're packed with fiber, which will ward off further snacking. Want to boost them? Pair them with a handful of nuts or a slice of cheese.
Apple & Peanut Butter
A classic childhood favorite that still delivers on both taste and nutrition. Cut an apple into slices and have it with a dollop of peanut butter on top. It's crisp and creamy with a shot of protein and fiber to keep you full. But opt for natural peanut butter or jars with little to no added sugar. The omegas in peanut butter improve heart health and also boost serotonin levels.
Villacorta's ground rule is that you want to stick to less than 300 calories for your snack—anything more is a meal. And you should eat it at least an hour before going to bed.