You Can Eat Late at Night
(If You Choose the Right Foods)
Many people have been taught that eating before bed should always be avoided, because it always leads to weight gain, but current reports state that this old information is not wholly the truth. There is no specific time of the day or night that your body mysteriously turns all of your calories into fat-although it likely is best to avoid heavy meals with high calories late at night, because your body doesn’t require that type of energy when it sleeps, and overeating at night can lead to digestive problems such as indigestions and GERD.
However, if you’re hungry at night, know that it is far more important to eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet than to worry about what time it is when you eat. Plus, there are certain foods that you can eat as a late-night snack that can actually support weight loss efforts. Knowing which foods are best late at night and which to avoid as the evening progresses is key.
A simple rule would be to avoid carbohydrates before bed and include slow-digesting, high-quality protein.
Why? Carbohydrate consumption causes a significant increase in the hormone insulin and its storage, which also tends to prevent the fat-burning mechanism. So, in the late evening as your metabolism slows down, eating carbohydrates at that hour can lead to weight gain.
Slow digesting proteins, however, provide a steady flow of amino acids that process through the night. This can help you recover from exercise and aid in maintaining your lean muscle while not increasing insulin production or storage.
Good late-night eating choices:
- White Meat Animal Protein: This includes chicken and turkey as they digest slowly and have a very low insulin release. They also contain the hormone, glucagon, which assists the body in breaking down stored carbohydrates and fats to be burned for energy. Why not red meat and fish? They have a higher insulin response, so it is best to avoid these foods in the evening.
- Cottage Cheese: A very slow digesting protein, cottage cheese is processed through the body over many hours. It also stimulates glucagon release. Make sure it’s plain cottage cheese versus the flavored versions with additional sugars.
- Green Vegetables: So, green veggies aren’t a protein, but they have very few calories, are high in fiber, and are very filling. A bowl of green veggies such as lettuce with lemon juice or sliced peppers, celery and zucchini tossed with some vinegar can be a filling late-night snack.
- A Slow-digesting, Low-carb Protein Shake: Also a slow-digesting protein shake before is a great option. It can include a low-carb (no sugar) protein shake mix with almond or coconut milk for a late-night meal. You can also include a tablespoon of almond butter if you are looking for more substantial food.