It has been a long-standing notion that eating right before bed is “bad” thing to do, as it makes you more likely to gain weight. However, the relationship between eating before bed and weight gain is far more complex than this simplistic idea. Ultimately, weight gain depends far more on the total calories consumed during the day than it does the timing of the calorie consumption.
Weight gain is in fact demonstrated in populations that eat large meals before bed and also consume most of their daily food intake at night. However, weight gain is not shown in populations that distribute their caloric intake throughout the day, and eat small, nutrient-dense snacks or meals before bed. In fact, eating a small single macronutrient or nutrient dense snack (~150-200 calories) before bed can benefit your physiological and metabolic health, and actually help you sleep better.
If you’re hungry before bed, don’t skip your snack! Not only can going to bed hungry disrupt your sleep, but skipping a small healthy snack before bed can make you more likely to overate or binge when the late night munchies strike.
The best snacks to eat before bed are small but nutrient dense, and consist of a combination of complex carbohydrates and a little protein. Eating carbohydrates with protein spurs a release of tryptophan in the brain which helps you fall asleep, and this combination keeps you satiated and your blood sugar levels stable. It is important to avoid large meals or any fatty, spicy foods right before bed, as these contribute to indigestion and acid reflux that can make falling and staying asleep more difficult.
The following snack combinations are perfect to eat before bed if you find yourself a little hungry. They balance complex carbohydrates and protein, and also contain potassium and magnesium, which help promote muscle relaxation. So if your stomach is rumbling when its time for you to be dreaming, get munching on these!
Peanut butter whole grain toast + ½ a banana
A mug of cereal or muesli with milk
Cheese on crackers
Greek yogurt + granola
Oatmeal with a sprinkle of blueberries and walnuts
Author: Maggie Harriman