Did you mom or grandma ever give you warm milk when you couldn’t fall asleep as a kid? I remember plenty of late night milks, teas and snacks as a child, but as I got older I started reading more and more about how late night eating causes weight gain and stopped. The good news is that this widespread myth isn’t actually true! You can eat at any time of the day and calories count the same. So, what are the best foods to eat before bed for weight loss? Here we’ll talk a little bit about the pros and cons of eating before bed and suggest a few healthy, late-night snack options.
Should You Eat Before Bed?
If you’ve turned to talk show hosts, celebrities or your friends for weight loss advice, chances are you’ve heard more than one person proclaim that the key to weight loss success is fasting after a set hour in the evening. Thankfully, experts agree that it’s not when you eat but instead how much (and what) you eat that makes a difference for weight loss.
Why You Should Eat Before Bed
Eating at night helps quash hunger pains, improve sleep quality, promote muscle building and give you fuel for early morning activities. Still, it’s important to make healthy choices when contemplating which food to eat before bed for weight loss. Here’s a little more about when you should grab a bedtime snack!
To Alleviate Hunger
The first – and most obvious – benefit of eating before bed is to alleviate those late night hunger pains. When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s frustratingly common to stick with a strict diet all day only to find yourself ravenous come 10 or 11pm. Even when that hunger strikes, many of us ignore our bodies’ cues because we think:
- “I don’t need calories if I’m just going to sleep”
- “It’s bad to eat at night”
- “I’ve made it this far – no reason to break my diet now.”
- “I can handle it”
The truth is, metabolism runs 24/7 to keep our bodies functioning whether we’re awake or asleep. While digestion does slow (which is why you should avoid heavy meals before bed), metabolism keeps going. This means that your body is using calories consumed at both 11am and 11pm to power your body, whether you’re awake or asleep.
So, instead of swearing off late night food entirely, evaluate how hungry you feel in the moment. Are you just a little hungry or really really hungry: stomach growling, stomach pains, maybe a headache or some lightheadedness? If you’re truly hungry, make yourself a small (under 200 calorie) bite to eat! A moderate, healthy snack will get your blood sugar back up, help you sleep more soundly and modulate your morning hunger.
To Sleep Better
Sleep is critical for weight loss, and health in general. If you go to bed too hungry it’s hard to sleep well.
On the flip side, eating too much just before bed time also interferes with quality sleep. Avoid heavy meals and fatty foods late at night as they are digested more slowly. A big, unhealthy meal late at night is likely to sit in your stomach as digestion slows. This can lead to heartburn, bloating and an overall lesser quality of sleep.
To Build Muscle
Muscle maintenance and building is an important issue while you’re losing weight with phentermine, and protein can help. So, should you eat protein before bed?
Yes! Protein allows us to maintain and build muscle mass, which is critical during weight loss. Not only does more muscle mass make you look more toned, it also increases resting metabolic rate and protects against injury. When you lose weight quickly (as many people do with phentermine), it’s important to stay vigilant about maintaining muscle mass so that you minimize the amount of muscle lost alongside the fat.
Thankfully, scientists have found that eating (or drinking) protein before bed is an effective way to accomplish this goal. A 2015 study showed that men who drank a protein shake before bed for 12 weeks built more muscle than those given a placebo shake for the same period of time.
To Power Early Morning Activities
Finally, eating a small snack before bed can help dull early morning hunger. If you like to workout in the early morning, or do something else that requires a lot of energy before breakfast, a late night snack may help keep your energy up. Still, if possible, experts recommend a small, light snack in the morning to maximize performance.
3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Eat Before Bed
Eating before bed has lots of benefits if you’re hungry and your body needs a little extra fuel, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good choice. Skip the late night snack if you’re emotionally eating, over-budget on daily calories, prone to heartburn or don’t have access to any healthy options.
The Hunger Isn’t Physical
It’s easy to come home after a tough day and reach for the nearest bag of chips or box of cookies to make yourself feel better… But it’s not healthy. This behavior is called emotional eating since you’re eating to cope with emotions instead of to satiate actual, physical hunger.
The same thing can happen late at night. If you want to eat before bed because you’re bored, upset, excited, or just eating out of habit, this isn’t a good time to have a late night snack. Instead of heading to the kitchen, distract yourself with a non-food activity: grab a book, take a warm shower, read or watch something on your phone, or call a friend.
The “appletite” test is a great tool if you’re unsure whether you’re feeling physical or emotional hunger. If you’re hungry enough to eat an apple, great – grab a piece of fruit for snack! If, however, only chips, cookies or chocolate sound appealing, you’re probably not actually hungry. Try to distract yourself and the craving will probably pass.
If you’re prone to heartburn, it’s best to skip the late night meals and snacks. Laying down just after eating can increase acid reflux and make heartburn worse.
So, if you struggle with heartburn, don’t eat for at least three hours before bedtime. This delay allows your stomach to empty before you’re horizontal and reduces the likelihood of stomach acid flowing back up. If you need to eat late at night, make sure to avoid irritating items like tomatoes, garlic, chocolate and fatty/fried foods.
No Access to Healthy Options
Last but not least, skip or delay eating before bed if there aren’t any healthy options. If you’re out with friends, at a party or just haven’t done groceries in a while, a late night snack could easily sabotage your weight loss efforts.
The best foods to eat before bed for weight loss are those that are low in calories (under 200 calories total) and provide lots of good nutritional benefits. Junk foods and party appetizers don’t usually fit either one of those criteria, so it may be better to skip the snack if these are your only options.
So, what should you eat before bed to lose weight?
The Best Foods to Eat Before Bed for Weight Loss
Now that you know how to decide whether you should indulge in a post-dinner snack, you may be wondering: what should I eat before bed? Here are 10 easy, healthy options for your late night snack that will fill you up, but won’t undo all of you hard work during the day!
1) Non-Fat Milk
Eight ounces of nonfat milk rings in at just about 90 calories and 9 grams of protein. That’s an impressive punch of protein for a little glass of milk. This powerhouse drink also has 12 grams of carbohydrates (from natural milk sugars) to give you a quick boost of energy, plus it’s a great source of calcium and potassium. In fact, some studies have even indicated that people who drink milk lose more weight than their low-dairy counterparts. So, if you’re in the mood for a light and filling snack, a glass of skim milk is the best bedtime snacks!
Want a bit of a sweet treat? Warm your milk up in the microwave for 1.5-2 minutes and then add a spoonful of sugar-free flavored syrup (the type they put in coffees). In cafes they sell this drink as a “steamer”, but it’s super simple to make at home and it’s a great way to make your evening milk a little more fun!
2) Turkey Sandwich (or Roll-Ups)
Snacks that contain a combination of protein and complex carbs help keep you full until your next meal. Since overnight is the longest most of us go without eating overnight, an ideal late night snack should have both of these components.
Half a turkey sandwich on whole wheat or whole-grain bread is actually a great food to eat before bed for weight loss! The protein of the turkey, plus the fiber from the whole-grain bread, will keep you full until morning. Plus, the turkey contains tryptophan that makes you sleepy and protein to support overnight muscle building or repair. Win-win!
Following a low carb diet? Lay out a leaf of lettuce and then layer on a slice of turkey and a thin slice of cheese or low-calorie cheese spread. Roll the lettuce up and you’ll have a low-carb turkey roll up to enjoy before bed!
If you struggle with insomnia on phentermine, cherries may be the bedtime snack for you! A 2014 study found that adults with insomnia who drank tart cherry juice every night for two weeks got an average of 90 minutes more sleep than their counterparts who consumed a placebo.
Cherries are a natural source of melatonin – the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. They also increase the availability of tryptophan, the amino acid in turkey that makes you sleepy. The combination of these qualities means that having some cherries (or cherry juice) late at night may be one of the best foods to eat before bed for weight loss, especially if you struggle with insomnia on phentermine!
Plus, cherries are full of antioxidants and low in calories at just 52 calories per one cup serving. Combine your cherries with some Greek yogurt or a glass of milk for an even more complete nighttime snack.
4) Plain Greek Yogurt with Fruit
Yogurt is a common item on healthy snacks for weight loss lists, and this article is no exception. Plain Greek yogurt is a great food to eat before bed for weight loss because it is high in protein, low in sugar and has a decadent texture.
One container (6oz) of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt only has 100 calories, but it contains a whopping 18 grams of protein! Mix your yogurt with about half a cup of fresh fruit (I like berries or peaches!) for a delicious late night snack.
It’s important to stick with plain yogurt because flavored yogurts have a lot of added sugar. If you don’t like the taste of plain yogurt, try adding some fruit, cinnamon and/or a teaspoon of honey to ease the bitterness.
Bananas are another natural source of melatonin – the chemical contained in many over-the-counter sleep aid supplements. Plus, at just 105 calories a piece, these fruits are the perfect portion of food to eat before bed for weight loss.
Bananas are also a great source of potassium and magnesium, which help relax your muscles for a restful night of sleep, and a good source of fiber that helps keep you full all night long.
If you want some protein with your snack, have ¼ cup of peanuts or one tablespoon of peanut butter with the banana. Or, if you’re feeling a little more ambitious: blend half a banana, a dash of cinnamon and a handful of ice with 8oz of skim milk for a quick banana smoothie!
6) Protein Shake
A protein shake is a great before bed snack if you’re aiming to add some extra protein to your daily diet. Unlike meal replacement shakes that contain larger amounts of calories, fat and carbs, protein shakes are often made of isolated protein and have relatively low calorie and carb contents.
If you’re still wondering, “Should you eat protein before bed?”, the answer is yes! Protein helps keep you full, maintain & build muscle mass and support healing after injury. It’s very important to make sure you’re getting enough protein while taking phentermine weight loss pills.
7) Whole-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter
Did you love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a kid? Or still do as an adult? Good news: a slice of whole-grain (or whole wheat) toast spread with one tablespoon nut butter is one of the best foods to eat before bed for weight loss!
The whole-wheat toast contains fiber to keep you full, plus lots of vitamins and minerals that benefit general health. At the same time, peanut butter has 4 grams of valuable protein per tablespoon and is composed mainly of healthy, monounsaturated fats. This combination is not only delicious, but also gives you the nutrition you need to qualm late night hunger and stay full all night long!
8) Sweet Potato with Cinnamon
Sweet potatoes are a great food for weight loss because they’re high in antioxidants, a good source of fiber and may help regulate blood sugar. These colorful potatoes also contain a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals to help keep you healthy on your weight loss journey with phentermine.
One medium sweet potato has 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber. If you bake your sweet potato and then split it open and add a touch of cinnamon (plus a tiny bit of butter, if you’d like), this makes for a great bedtime snack.
Extra bonus: cinnamon has been shown to support glucose metabolism. If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you may be especially interested in this healthy snacks’ ability to help regulate blood sugar!
9) Plain Oatmeal with Walnuts
Oatmeal is a whole-grain carbohydrate that will provide you the quick energy to ease hunger pains, plus plenty of fiber to keep you satiated through the night. Eating oatmeal regularly has also been associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.
Still, make sure you stick with plain oatmeal. Similar to yogurt, flavored oatmeal varieties can be very high in sugar. Even if you add a touch of honey or brown sugar, chances are your at-home sweetener will be less than the commercial version.
To make your snack complete, add a small handful of walnuts to the prepared bowl of oatmeal. Walnuts are an excellent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to providing over 2g of protein per half ounce (seven halves)!
10) Air-Popped Popcorn
Last but not least, air-popped popcorn is a fabulous snack for weight loss. It‘s low in calories, high in fiber and filling. This whole-grain snack has less than 100 calories, plus 4 grams of fiber, in a three cup serving!
So, if you’re craving something salty, think about making yourself a bowl of air-popped popcorn. Homemade popcorn is healthier than store-bought microwave popcorn because it doesn’t contain all of the extra chemicals and is often lower in fat and sodium as well.
Burn Fat in Your Sleep
We often focus on our waking hours when we think about weight loss, but research shows that sleep is just as important. Getting too little (or too much!) sleep affects the hormones that regulate appetite, satiety and cravings. So, when we our sleep schedules are off-balance, many of us experience fluctuations in these hormones and have a lot more trouble sticking to a healthy diet!
Luckily, now that you know the best foods to eat before bed for weight loss, you’re armed with the knowledge to burn fat in your sleep. Grab a snack if you need it and then head to bed to maximize your weight loss efforts with phentermine!
What do you think? Do you snack at night, or have you sworn-off late night eating? Let us know in the comments section below!