So dinnertime is over and you are relaxing in front of the television for some quiet wind down time before you turn in for the evening, but your mind and belly are telling you to pay one more visit to the kitchen before you call it a night. You are on a mission to lose weight and slim down and are now met with the ultimate challenge - do you dismiss your craving and go to bed hungry or do you put a little something in your belly to satisfy your late night craving?
You probably believe, like so many of us, that eating right before bedtime is absolutely and emphatically not a healthy thing to do, especially if you are attempting to lose weight. Further to this concern, you have probably heard that if you do eat before bedtime, no matter what your choice of food may be, it will definitely turn to fat and will result in weight gain. Well, truth be known, that this assumption is not true at all. Not all foods that are consumed beyond 7:00 in the evening will just automatically turn into fat and find its way to your love handles, tummy, thighs, midriff or butt.
The Truth About Late Night Snacking
Actually, the fact is that there are a variety of certain late night snacks that are acceptable to eat, which do not necessarily increase your body fat loss but rather help to burn fat. Though studies have proven this, do not use these research results as an excuse to each a whole batch of sugar cookies or a whole bag of potato chips before you hit the hay. Eating these types of foods or late night snacks that are large portions will more often than not cause you discomfort which will ultimately disrupt your sleep pattern or even take away your breakfast appetite. If either occurs, you can definitely experience an adverse effect on your energy level and/or your metabolism throughout the day.
On the other hand, you do not want to starve yourself if your mind and tummy are telling you to eat something because the onset of hunger pangs can disrupt your sleep as well. Depriving yourself of any food when your body is indicating it wants or needs it can lead you to an unhealthy eating frenzy the next morning and perhaps cause you to overeat in the early morning hours. The key to this late night snack fest is figuring out what snacks are acceptable to eat in the evening hours and which foods are absolutely not in your best interest to be eating. Surely we all know that snacking an hour or two before your bedtime on the wrong foods does not help to break down carbs or burn fat, but rather can lead to weight gain since late night snacking typically causes restless sleep which in turn leads to fatigue.
The Perfect Late Night Slow-Digesting Protein Foods
With all this said, it is important for you to find the perfect happy medium for your body and your late night cravings. One very practical and simple rule of thumb, however, is to avoid eating any type of carbs. Instead, choose slow digesting foods that are high in quality protein since they provide the body with a enough amino acids that are generated throughout the night time while you sleep, which greatly assist with maintaining lean muscle while losing fat. There are a variety of foods that are consistent with this theory and work with your metabolism as your body winds down at the close of another busy day. The slow-digesting protein foods that are acceptable for your late night snacking frenzies include the following foods.
1. Animal Protein (White Meat not Red) - Animal protein foods which include turkey and chicken are healthy late night snack food choices. These white meats digest very slowly and release minimal amounts of insulin, which can lead to the reduction in muscle building and in your body's capacity to burn fat. In addition, white meats release another important hormone called glucagon, which primarily helps to break down carbs and burn fat that is stored in the body while turning it into energy. But bear in mind we are talking about white meats here, not red meats since they normally release much higher levels of insulin into the body, so be certain to avoid red meats late at night.
2. Cottage Cheese - Plain cottage cheese is a remarkably slow digesting food that also coats the lining of the stomach and typically takes five to six hours to digest. If you eat it before bedtime your body will receive protein throughout the night and it will help to avoid catabolism which is the breakdown of muscle in the body. Cottage cheese is a protein that releases glucagon, which helps to break down carbs and burn fat consistently, making it an ideal late night snack food choice. One important note, however, is that you must avoid flavored cottage cheeses since they are very high in sugar. Limit your cottage cheese choice to just good old-fashioned, plain cottage cheese.
3. Green Vegetables - This food group is an incredibly healthy late night snack food choice. Though they do not fall within the protein category, green vegetables are very high in fiber, are remarkably easy to digest, have no calories at all and are very filling. Consuming a healthy portion of green vegetables at night will satisfy your snack craving each time, every time.
4. Low Carb Protein Shakes - Many people find that consuming a slow -digesting low carb protein shake before they get settled into bed takes away any late night unhealthy snack cravings. Drinking a protein shake is a fast and very convenient way to satisfy your daily requirements of protein before you go to sleep. Studies have proven that drinking a low carb protein shake before bedtime actually stimulates muscle mass in those people who regularly engage in evening workouts. The key to a successful bedtime protein shake regimen is to be certain that the protein powder you choose and the beverage you combine it with fall below 200 calories. Our body metabolism keeps working while we sleep, though it slows down, but rest assured your protein shake, if under 200 calories, will be digested and absorbed and can ultimately contribute to your overall weight loss goals.
If your body is sending you signals and you are hungry, it is important that you eat, even if it is late at night. Listening to your body's hunger messages at all times is important to your overall health. Ignoring your hunger pangs can only set you up for low blood sugar levels, increased and stronger cravings, and also set you up for binge eating once you finally do get to eat. If late night snack cravings are haunting you, then take into consideration the four protein foods suggested above that will actually breakdown carbs, burn fat, and stimulate muscle mass.