Is there really a myth behind late night snacking and weight gain? Will eating past a certain time at night affect our bodies that much to gain a pound or more?
Adelle Davis, a nutritionist in the 60s who initiated a fight against processed food and promoted vitamin supplementation coined the term “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like prince and dinner like a pauper.” Her thought on this and like many others in the nutrition world believe eating a heavy meal in the evening can lead to weight gain. While some agree with this theory, the topic is still open for debate. A calorie is a calorie no matter what time of you day you consume them. So why should it matter when you eat?
Research has shown that eating a small nutrient-dense snack (less than 150 calories) before bedtime is beneficial to your metabolism and your body that is promoting muscle protein synthesis all while you sleep! However, late night snacking comes with some boundaries. Eating a heavy, high-calorie and fat-filled meal or snack right before bed may have negative effects on the body so chose your nighttime meal wisely. Sitting on the couch, noshing on a bag of potato chips or making a pit stop at your favorite fast food joint at 11 o’clock at night is probably not the best food choice to make, especially if bedtime is right around the corner. Not only are the excess calories a bad choice, you may encounter indigestion and tummy pains during sleep.
For those days where dinner time is past 7pm choose meals that are rich in veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. Or if dinner was earlier than normal and your tummy is rumbling come 8 or 9pm chose a good casein protein like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt or even a cheese stick to satisfy your hunger. Casein protein is a great protein to digest before bedtime because it is a slow-digesting protein and is high in amino acids that aid in muscle repair. Try to stay away from sugary treats and processed packaged foods.
Eating small meals throughout the day and drinking plenty of water help in keeping late night snacking at bay, but there are those days when your appetite takes over and it’s inevitable to stave off hunger pangs. When this happens, eating a small snack is OK!
Here is a list of some great food options for that midnight snack attack!
Turkey slices & cheese.
Cottage Cheese. Pair this will some whole grain crackers or fruit!
Nut butter and whole wheat toast.
Banana and nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
Greek yogurt and granola or fruit.
Fresh or dried fruit and nuts.
High fiber cereal
Listen to your body and if you’re hungry it’s ok to feed it, just choose your food wisely!