What to eat before going to bed is a common question among people who want to lose weight and eat healthy. Whether it is dinner or a late night snack, the evening menu requires caution and attention so you don't fall into traps that result in weight gain or even trouble sleeping.
Food that will not make you gain weight in the evening
Eating a balanced meal before bed is crucial for a healthy body and weight. Since our metabolism slows down while we're asleep, it is important to consume low-calorie meals that are easy to digest and contain low levels of fat, salt and sugar, so your body is not overloaded.
A good tip for the last meal of the day is to eat food that aids in the quality of your sleep, which also contributes to weight loss. While we sleep, our body regulates the pleasure, mood and happiness hormones. It also increases leptin levels, which is the substance responsible for the feeling of satiety that keeps you from cheating on your diet or eating a late night snack.
Honey, nuts and lettuce are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce substances that adjust and improve the quality of your sleep.
Dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, have calcium in them, which is a great nutrient to help you sleep better. Calcium deficiency can keep you from falling asleep.
Rolled oats have many great health benefits and also help in sleep. Since it increases blood sugar levels and is rich in melatonin, the sleep-cycle hormone, this cereal grain aids in the process of falling asleep.
Certain fruits are known for giving you a peaceful night's sleep, which is essential to maintain a healthy weight since sleeping releases leptin, the substance that makes you not feel hungry. These are some fruits that can help you:
Grapes- They should be eaten before bed because they provide melatonin, one of the main sleep hormones. Therefore, they are a great ally for people suffering from insomnia. In addition, they provide antioxidants that control free radicals that damage healthy cells.
Goji Berry - Another option that's rich in antioxidants, helps you sleep and even improves emotional well-being.
Banana - It is great to eat bananas at night because the magnesium acts as a natural muscle relaxer, making the process of falling asleep a lot easier.
It is better to ingest good carbs, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, in addition to proteins, such as chicken, eggs, milk and yogurt. However, it is important to avoid certain foods after working out such as industrialized granola bars which can actually cancel out the benefits of exercise.
"Grains and whole grains help restore the glucose burnt during exercise preventing hypoglycemia, which can cause dizziness", says the expert. "Fruit is also recommended to recover antioxidants released during physical activity".
A post-workout meal can also include pumpkin seeds, which improve muscle conditioning due to the magnesium.
"A great choice for dinner is grilled chicken with greens, such as kale, and brown rice. This is a meal rich in magnesium, great for recovering muscles and relaxing your body", recommends Camila Fiora.
Does eating eggs at night make you gain weight?
Camilla Fiora, expert in pediatric clinical nutrition and nutritionist at Van Der Haagen Brasil, clarifies a common question about healthy night eating habits. According to her, the idea that eggs make you gain weight is not true since they provide the good type of fat and can actually enhance weight loss.
"Recent studies show that, if consumed in the right amount in conjunction with healthy eating habits, eggs can help you lose weight, since it is a complete protein that contains all essential amino acids and is great to make you feel satisfied", says the expert.
However, the way you cook your eggs is very important since frying them can increase the amount of fat in approximately 40%. The best option is to cook them in water or poach them, which preserves all the nutrients. Omelettes and scrambled eggs are also a good option as long as they are cooked without oil.
What is the best time to eat in the evening?
The time you eat your meals is just as important as what you are eating. You should eat dinner up to two hours before bed so that your body has time to digest the food. Late night snacks should be eaten up to 1:30 hours before going to sleep in order to prevent discomforts such as gas and heartburn.
What NOT to eat before bedtime
Just like there are foods that help you keep a balanced weight, there are foods that should be avoided before going to sleep. Caffeinated beverages and chocolate are natural stimulants that can prevent you from falling asleep. Therefore, they should be avoided.
High-fat foods and canned goods are bad for you at any point of the day but are even worse in the evening because they affect sleep, delay the digestion process and build up body fat.
Red meat is also rich in fat and, therefore, should be avoided. In addition, high glycemic food, such as sweets, are quickly absorbed by your body, increasing your energy at night and making you feel hungry soon.
Menu: healthy choices for a late night snack
Clinical nutritionist Camilla Fiora recommends what to eat for a late night snack so you do not gain weight:
- Option 1: 1 glass of milk sweetened with 1 teaspoon of honey
- Option 2: 1 fat-free yogurt with 1 tablespoon of rolled oats
- Option 3: 1 regular-sized banana with 1 oz. of walnuts