There is so much controversy about eating before bed. You’ve probably heard suggestions such as “Do not eat after 7pm”, “Do not snack before bedtime”… or you will gain weight.
There is really no right or wrong approach… Every individual is unique. Some people go to bed late, work out in the evening or have early dinner. Some are are athletes who have good glycemic control. Most of us are less active at night, probably spending the rest of the evening watching tv or in front of the computer. I suggest you take a look at your results to know what’s working and what’s not. If you eat before bed and are achieving the desired results, then keep doing whatever is working for you. But if you are gaining or not losing weight, then evaluate your choice of late night snacks and calorie intake.
Eating a late night snack does not necessary sabotage your weight loss efforts if you know which foods to choose and avoid. In fact, eating the RIGHT foods feeds your muscles with quality nutrition, aids in recovery from exercise and increases fat loss.
Here are 4 suggestions for best late night snacks for weight loss:
1. Avoid carbs
At night, cortisol (stress hormone) levels are at the highest and this reduces insulin sensitivity. Eating a carbohydrate rich snack triggers significant release of insulin. As a result, carbs are more easily stored as fat. We expend the least energy when sleeping, so excess calories (energy) from carbs are likely stored as fat.
Unless you train at night, are hypoglycemic, diabetic or have other medical considerations, it is best to avoid eating high carb snacks late at night.
Protein is a great choice for late night snacks It increases satiety, thermogenesis, prevents muscle protein loss and enhances glycemic control.
Protein has minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin response. It also stimulates the release of hormone glucagon, which can help to control body fat. This hormone breaks down stored glcycogen and fat for energy.
Good protein snacks: turkey slices, egg white, cheese, nuts, greek yogurt.
Check out more midnight snack ideas here –> 7 Healthy Late Night Snacks
3. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats slows gastric emptying, the rate at which food empties from the stomach into the intestines and thereby, increases satiety. They keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer.
Fats are also necessary for the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as A,D,E and K, and other nutrients.
Healthy fatty snacks include avocados, nuts, nut butter, cheese, eggs, seeds, olives and yogurt.
Fiber provides volume that fills you up. It slows digestion and gastric emptying, to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
Choose fiber rich foods such as non-starchy vegetables and low sugar fresh fruits. They are lower in calories and have minimal impact on blood sugar levels.
Low sugar fruits: apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, oranges, avocados
Non-starchy vegetables: celery, peppers, carrots, cucumber, greens
There is one type of soluble fiber that has been shown to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and body weight. It is called glucomannan and is derived from the root of Amorphophallus konjac or elephant yam. Glucomannan is used to make foods such as konjac noodles, pasta, rice and jelly.
Glucomannan can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water to form a viscous gel. Being high in fiber and virtually calorie and carb free, glucomannan may promote weight loss by increasing satiety.
Glucommanan helps to control appetite and promote the feeling of fullness in several ways:
1. The high viscosity of glucomannan delays food from leaving your stomach and small bowel.
2. By slowing down absorption of food in the small intestine, it reduces post meal insulin and blood sugar spikes.
3. It raises gastrointestinal hormone, cholecystokinin, which induces satiety.
My favourite glucomannan foods are shirataki (konjac) noodles, pasta and rice . I can eat them as main meals or snacks, at anytime of the day, since they contain no gluten and almost no carbs and calories. Check out Miracle Noodle site which offers a range of glucommanan foods.