If you’re noticing hunger pangs before bed, it could be a sign from your body that you need a snack. Having a healthy, low-calorie snack before bed can help regulate blood sugar levels so you don’t wake up hungry (or hangry) in the morning. However, eating the wrong foods before bed can disturb your sleep and lead to unwanted calories and weight gain. The problem that most people have with bedtime snacks is mindlessly eating the wrong foods when they’re not even really hungry. That’s why we’ve rounded up 8 healthy snacks for weight loss and better sleep.
Do Bedtime Snacks Cause Weight Gain?
It depends on the snack. There’s nothing wrong with eating a light, healthy snack post-dinner if you get hungry. The problem is, people eat at night for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. They want to satisfy a sweet tooth or cope with stress or boredom, and so late night snacks typically consist of large quantities of high calorie foods like chips, chocolate or candy.
This type of snacking is typically uncontrolled and done while watching TV or scrolling social media and all of a sudden you’ve eaten an entire bag of M&Ms without realizing it. This can result in excess calories, indigestion and sleeping problems.
4 Do’s and Don’ts of Bedtime Snacks
1. Don’t Overeat
Much of the time, bedtime snacking is a mindless activity, which leads to overeating. To keep from binging, pay attention to your food while you eat, avoid eating in front of the TV or your phone and portion control your snack. The more distracted you are and the less you portion control, the more likely you’ll be to overeat.
2. Do Eat Small, Light Portions
If you need a bedtime snack, focus on small, light portions that will work to calm your hunger and also promote a good night’s sleep. You don’t want to go to bed hungry as you’ll likely wake up and end up overeating at breakfast. Small servings of popcorn or fruit are good options as are bananas and nut butter.
3. Don’t Eat Heavy Foods
Avoid greasy, fatty foods before bed if you want to get a good sleep and lose weight. Fatty foods like French fries and pizza take a long time to digest in your system, and they don’t allow your body to properly burn off the fat while you sleep. Plus, while your body is trying to digest the food, you’ll likely experience stomach churning and abdominal cramps, which can keep you awake and uncomfortable.
4. Do Include Your Bedtime Snack in Your Daily Calorie Count
If you’re focused on weight loss and worried your bedtime snack will disrupt your journey, a simple solution is to include your bedtime snack in your daily calorie count. Instead of eating your regular calories and adding a snack on, focus on making your other meals a bit lower in calories to account for the extra calories before bed.
8 Bedtime Snacks for Weight Loss and Better Sleep
1. Banana with Almond Butter
Almond butter contains magnesium and bananas contain magnesium and potassium. Both of these are natural muscle relaxants that aid with sleep. Magnesium has been found to decrease cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can keep you up at night, and potassium regulates your heartbeat, which helps you sleep better.
Popcorn (without butter or toppings) is a great low calorie snack to eat before bed. It’s a carb that helps bring the tryptophan into your brain from your blood to increase your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that plays a major role in our circadian rhythms and is linked to more beneficial sleep.
3. 2% Cottage Cheese and Pitted Tart Cherries
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein and consuming protein before bed helps your muscles repair themselves and also has a positive effect on your metabolism. Tart cherries will provide some sweetness and also contain melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
4. Roasted Chickpeas
If you crave something crunchy post-dinner, reach for roasted chickpeas instead of chips or crackers. They contain a good dose of protein, are easily digestible and can help fill you up so you don’t wake up super hungry the next day.
5. Plain Greek Yogurt and Blueberries
Plain Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium, which your body needs to make melatonin from the amino acid tryptophan. It’s also high in protein, specifically casein, which has been shown to reduce hunger the next morning, lessening the chance that you’ll overeat at breakfast. Blueberries are high in fibre and antioxidants, which soothe your body and brain and lead to less overall stress.
6. Whole Wheat Toast with Hummus
Wheat flour is a good source of magnesium, which has been shown to have a positive effect on the quality of sleep for adults, and specifically for those with insomnia. Hummus is made with chickpeas, which are full of B vitamins. B vitamins help your body metabolize carbs, proteins and fats.
7. Oatmeal with Cinnamon
Oats are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms and with sleep. They’re a healthy whole food that contains vitamins, minerals and fibre, however they’re higher in calories than some of these other options, so make sure to have a small portion of oatmeal if weight loss is your focus. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top as it helps balance blood glucose, which manages cravings, weight and mood.
8. Handful of Nuts
Nuts like almonds and walnuts help satisfy hunger and cravings while inducing sleepiness, due to their natural melatonin, protein and magnesium. Be sure the nuts have low or no added sodium as it can disrupt the sleep cycle, and keep calories in check by sticking to a 1 oz serving before bed.
If you focus on the right foods, snacking before bed can help reduce hunger and ensure you wake up ready to take on the day!
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