By Daniyal Naveed
We all know that regularly eating late at night could lead to weight gain. That’s especially true if you’re snacking on foods that contain refined carbs and starches—like bread and rice, as well as guilty-pleasure items like potato chips and cookies—which are low in fiber and high in sugar. Sure, they may be a quick fix for your hunger, but if you don’t use the converted energy, those calories can be stored as fat. Talk about bad news for your waistline.
Still, experts say it’s best not to go to bed hungry (and here’s why). So when your tummy starts rumbling after you turn out the lights, what should you do? Try reaching for a high-protein snack like cottage cheese. Recent studies have found that consuming 30 grams of protein about 30 minutes before bed could have a positive impact on metabolism. While the study was small and only involved active twentysomething women, it was the first to explore this possibility in whole foods, as opposed to protein shakes and other protein supplementation researched in earlier studies.
But what about those who don’t like cottage cheese? Don’t worry: There are a ton of other good protein choices at your disposal, like nutritionist-approved healthy late-night snacks. Try eating sliced lean proteins such as chicken, roast beef, tofu, boiled eggs, or a small handful of almonds 30 minutes prior to sleep to maintain satiety throughout the night.
These foods will also provide the energy needed for metabolism, thus increasing your weight-loss efforts. Almonds or walnuts are some of the healthiest nuts you can eat and may be particularly good suggestions for people who are lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply don’t care for dairy. Nuts are generally high in good fats, as well as a good source of protein and nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium, to name a few. Just remember to eat them mindfully—i.e., keep that handful to just a handful—since calories can add up quickly. If dairy isn’t an issue, you might also want to consider mozzarella string-cheese sticks. At fewer than 100 calories per pop, these tiny-but-mighty snacks provide six grams of protein with just one gram of carbs, as well as calcium and vitamin D. Plus, you won’t have to worry about overeating, as these also come in small packets at your supermarkets and grocery stops.