People often believe the myth that they will gain weight or not be able to lose weight if they have a bedtime snack. “Don’t eat after ___ or you will just store it!” Well, I’m here to tell you that a bedtime snack can help you with your weight goals.
What matters more is the total amount of food you are eating in a day. And if you’ve read my blog post about calories, you know that I believe weight loss is so much more than calories in, calories out. Food quality, the timing of eating, hormone regulation, sleep, exercise, inflammation, etc. all affect your weight. In fact, a bedtime snack can help with your weight goals!
Many people can actually benefit from having a bedtime snack. The reason for this is that a bedtime snack can promote stable blood sugar levels. This is especially true for those that find they snack constantly after dinner before bed. It is best to plan out one snack about 30-45 minute before bedtime and mindfully eat it (not in front of the television ;)).
When people consume supper as their last meal of the day, their blood sugar levels will start to drop. If they don’t consume anything until breakfast, there blood sugar will continue to drop until their liver shoots out glucose to raise it back up. This will cause stress hormones to be released at the same time and can cause nightmares (think about if you had a bedtime snack the last time you had nightmares!).
When your blood sugar levels are not stable (the blood sugar rollercoaster), you will have cravings, bad moods and poor quality sleep. This is where the fat storing hormone, insulin, thrives! This will affect your weight more than that bedtime snack.
The bedtime snack that you consume should contain a carbohydrate and a fat. This is because having the carbohydrate will bring your blood sugar levels back up slightly and the fat will slow down the digestion of the carbohydrates, promoting a stable blood sugar all night long. When your blood sugar levels are stable, the hormone glucagon can do it’s job of fat burning.
I used to feel that eating a bedtime snack was bad and that it wouldn’t help my health goals. However, when I started consuming a healthy bedtime snack, the quality of my sleep improved. I also didn’t wake up starving or go to bed hungry.
When you consume a bedtime snack (about 30 min before bed), it should contain a carbohydrate and fat source. It can also contain protein, but this can interfere with your sleep (this is individualized).
My favorite bedtime snacks:
- 1/4 cup of berries with 2 T. nut butter (my favorite!)
- A few slices of apple with 1 T. butter melted over the top with cinnamon
- 1 oz. dark chocolate melted over 1/4 cup berries with real whipped cream!
- A few peach slices sautéed in 1 T. butter or 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
- Chocolate pudding: 1/2 an avocado mashed with 1/4 banana and 1 T. cocoa powder