Jorge H Montano JR, B.S.
Founder and CEO of Altus Premier Nutrition.
Struggling with late-night munchies? Want to keep fit and get a good night's sleep? If so, watch what you eat before bedtime! Some foods can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories at night. Others have the opposite effect. They not only make you fat but also affect your sleep and energy levels.
Here are some of the worst foods you can reach for at night:
Oats, whole wheat, rice, and other grains make a great choice for breakfast. Loaded with fiber and slow-digesting carbs, they fill you up quickly and provide lasting energy. However, you really don't need all those carbs at night. Not to mention that eating too much fiber before bedtime can affect your sleep.
Breakfast cereals are even worse. High in sugar, they spike your insulin levels and promote weight gain. The fiber is removed during processing, so the carbs go directly into your system.
Rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate keeps your heart healthy and fights oxidative stress. Unfortunately, it's not the best choice at night.
This sweet treat contains theobromine and caffeine, two stimulants that affect sleep. Enjoy a piece right after training or first thing in the morning when your body needs energy.
Burgers, hot dogs, mozzarella, and other high-fat foods are off limits before bedtime. Compared to lean meat, veggies, or cottage cheese, they take longer to digest and cause bloating. On top of that, they can lead to tummy aches and add inches to your waistline.
If you're craving fatty foods, eat an avocado or Greek yogurt. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your protein shake to ward off hunger. You can also make a healthy trail mix with almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and coconut flakes.
Hot peppers, jalapenos, cayenne, and Mexican foods may cause indigestion and heartburn. Even though chilies increase metabolism, they're not the best choice at bedtime. You might wake up in the middle of the night because your stomach hurts.
Fruit Juices and Whole Fruits
Fructose, the sugar in fruits, goes straight to your liver where it's stored as fat. Moreover, these beverages are highly acidic and may cause heartburn. Unlike whole fruits, they contain little or no fiber, causing blood sugar spikes.
Satisfy your cravings for fruit with a small cup of cottage cheese and berries. These fruits are easy to digest and have a low glycemic index. Cottage cheese is chock-full of protein, keeping your muscles fueled at night.
Packed with sugar and fats, ice cream is one of the worst foods you can eat before sleep. This treat forces your digestive system to kick into overdrive and spikes your blood sugar levels.
If you really want some ice cream, mix protein powder with almond or coconut milk. Add a few almonds or dried coconut, and freeze it for at least one hour. This way, you'll obtain a healthy dessert that promotes muscle growth and delights your taste buds.
Ideally, your dinner should be rich in protein and low in carbs. The same goes for snacks.
Eating protein before bedtime will rev up your fat-burning engine and prevent catabolism. Carbs, on the other hand, are more likely to be stored as fat when consumed late at night. Your body doesn’t need sugar during sleep. Consider mixing protein and healthy fats to stay full longer.