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Last Updated on August 9, 2019

17 Healthy Late Night Snacks for When Midnight Cravings Hit

17 Healthy Late Night Snacks for When Midnight Cravings Hit

You look at the clock glaring the numbers 12:15 back at you in bright red. You can feel your stomach grumbling. You reach for your phone trying to distract you, but you just can’t seem to ignore the overwhelming urge for something to eat! Finally, frustrated, you grab your slipper and stomp to the fridge. You try to remember your diet but it’s too late. If you don’t grab something you’ll be up all night…

Does this situation sound familiar? If so, get prepared to be prepared! Late night cravings don’t have to mean the pitfall of every diet you’ve ever tried. Instead, with a little knowledge and planning you can avoid those dreaded midnight munchies!

Are you ready? Here are the top 17 late night snacks for when your cravings hit.

1. Blood Sugar Balancing Lemonade or Soda

When cravings hit, there’s a good chance our blood sugar might just be out of balance.[1] When you find yourself craving food in the middle of the night, start off with this balancing lemonade. You might find that you don’t even need anything else!

The power is in the blend of lemon (a detoxifier), Cinnamon (a craving buster) and chromium (a mineral that is necessary for us to balance our blood sugar). Of course, the water in itself will help fill you up and destroy cravings. So, before reaching for the cookies, fill up on some of this lemonade and see if the problem takes care of itself.

2. Edamame

If you are looking for something to occupy your tastebuds, edamame might just be the way to go! This tasty snack is extremely clean and high in protein.

Late at night, your body’s metabolism slows down to prepare you for sleep. So of course, if you are munching on high calorie snacks, there is a good chance they might turn into fat more than if you were to eat that same food in the morning of an active day.

The combination of low-calorie and high protein might help you stay full and satiated while still revving up the metabolism enough to help burn off those calories.

3. In-Shell Pistachios

Although too many might be high in calories, moderate amounts of pistachios might actually help you go back to sleep.

Though all foods contain some melatonin, a nutrient which is essential for deep sleep, pistachios are one the most nutrient dense. Just a small handful of these power snacks will punch as much melatonin as supplement!

4. Turkey

Remember how each Thanksgiving, your Dad crashes on the couch in a deep turkey-coma? Post-Thanksgiving naps are a legit thing! I’ll tell you why.

Turkey contains large amounts of tryptophan which contribute to making people feel tired. If you really want some good rest and a yummy nighttime snack, try wrapping turkey in romaine lettuce, drizzle a little dressing, and enjoy a delicious wrap.

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5. Tart Cherries

Tart cherries can actually help you boost your melatonin production making them perfect for a good night’s rest. Cherries also require mindful eating due to the stems and pits making them a perfect choice for people who want to avoid late night binges.

If you really want something sweet but need help keeping it moderate, try freezing the cherries. The extra cold will not only take longer to eat but, it might actually help you curb some cravings in the process.

6. Berries

Berries are an extremely healthy snack for anytime of the day, but at night, they are especially perfect. High amounts of carbs can make it harder for you to sleep.

However, berries are extremely low glycemic (meaning they don’t have a huge effect on your blood sugar) making them absolutely perfect to curb the sweet tooth and still have a good nights rest.

Plus they are so high in antioxidants that your also doing your body a favor!

7. Berry Slushie

As mentioned, berries are very low glycemic, meaning they don’t spike your blood sugar in the way normal fruit would.

For an especially perfect snack, blend together ice, lemon, berries, and stevia. The addition of the lemon and stevia will help you get that sweet kick without having to add too much fruit into the mix. You will feel satisfied without even budging your waistline.

8. Veggies

For those of you who feel extra ambitious, try filling up on veggies. They are so low-calorie, you don’t really have to worry about over eating them.

If you really want to add some extra flavor, try sauteing them in water or dipping them in a tablespoon of sauce. You’ll feel full and satisfied but you won’t have to worry about an overdose of calories.

9. Pumpkin Seeds

Much like pistachios, pumpkin seeds can help fill you up without disrupting your sleep. Pumpkin seeds are packed with tryptophan that might help knock you out.

If you feel like you just can’t sleep and want to avoid a sudden binge, keep in-shell pumpkin seeds on hand as well. You will stay occupied and have your cravings handled without the temptation of grabbing mouthfuls at a time.

10. Plain Yogurt and Cinnamon

Cinnamon is really a master at helping curb cravings. This makes for a power combo when you hit your body with both protein-dense Greek yogurt and balancing cinnamon simultaneously.

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If you really want to feel like you’re having a treat, just add a tablespoon or so of stevia, and dip in half an apple. You’ll almost think you were having a dessert.

11. Protein Ice Cream

Who doesn’t love a low calorie snack? This recipe uses gelatin to thicken up the rest of the ingredients into a more creamy flavor without adding the whopping calories of cream.

Late and night, our metabolism slows down to prepare for sleep. That means, low calorie snacks are ideal. They’ll fill you right up without disrupting your sleep or diet.

Check out the recipe of this ice-cream here!

12. A Tablespoon of Almond Butter

Sometimes, all you need is just one little lick of something to keep you satiated. That’s what this trick will do for you.

Although one tablespoon will pack in about 100 calories, the healthy fats might be all it takes to keep you satisfied and happy. Just be mindful of how much if you are trying to lose or maintain weight.

13. Shiritake Noodles

There’s a big difference between wanting to eat because you’re hungry or eating because.. well.. you want to eat. By all means, if you’re feeling genuinely hungry, then reach for something a bit more satiating. Most of us, however, start reaching for the pantry out of pure habit.

But, before giving in to a cup of Top Ramen, give this trick a try! Warm up Shiritake noodles and season with whatever you’re feeling most. These noodles taste great mixed in with coconut aminos for a Thai bowl topped with veggies.

Or try mixing it with almond milk, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast for something savory. These 0-calorie noodles with help solve the munchies and make you feel satisfied again!

14. Homemade Jello

Much like the Protein Ice Cream, homemade jello is a really filling way to get your sweet fix when you don’t really need the extra calories.

While most gelatin from stores is not good for you at all, moderate amounts of natural gelatin, like Great Lakes Gelatin, can actually be pretty good for you and your gut.

While healthy carbs are in no way bad, I prefer to use stevia for this recipe as well at night, since too high of carb can really disrupt sleep.

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Take a look at the recipe here to make your own healthy jello.

15. Kale Chips

When you’re craving something crunchy and salty, kale chips are the way to go. Many brands include some amounts of cashews which make them very satiating as well.

Think ahead for those days when potato chips sound tempting and keep bags of kale chips on hand instead. You will not regret it! And as a little bonus, the extra minerals will help you feel more fulfilled too.

16. Bento Box

A bento box is an amazing way to fill up your body with very satiating and fulfilling foods in a very balanced way. If you are genuinely hungry, then a balanced and portioned snack like this is hands down the way to go.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to fill your box with one portion; each of protein, nuts, veggies, and low-carb fruit. It’s a quick snack plate that will leave you feeling great!

17. Peanut/Sunflower Butter and Carrot sticks/Jicama

I saved the weirdest for last! This is one of my all time favorite snacks, but it makes for a truly satiating meal when you absolutely need something filling to hold you up through the night.

Jicama or carrots and nut butter provide the most amazing blend of satiating saltiness with a tang of sweet. It doesn’t take much of this meal to fill you up. You’ll be feeling awesome in no time!

Bonus Tips

1. Try to Eat 2 Hours before Bed

Because your metabolism slows down so much at night, most dieticians recommend eating at least 2 hours before bed.

Eating later at night can disrupt your sleep and add to unwanted weight gain. To really prevent this slump, try eating regularly throughout the day. You’re body loves consistency and not starving yourself during the day will prevent those late-night binges.

2. Choose Low-Carb

High amount of carbs at night are a sure-fire way to pack on unwanted pounds. To avoid this, choose lighter and lower-carb meals at night to prevent fat-gain.

There’s nothing wrong with some big chunks of bread, but eating that late at night is not going to work for you!

3. Satiate Yourself

Try adding some healthy fats to your dinner. I’m all about eating “lean and clean”, but if you find yourself starving after dinner, then there’s a chance you might not be eating the right types of foods for dinner.

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Adding lean protein and healthy fats to your meals will help keep you full longer and prevent late night hunger.

4. Know Whether You’re Craving or Hungry

When you’re stressed out or working late, it’s only natural to want to eat to get rid of the stress. However, overeating will only make things worse.

If you find yourself walking into the kitchen out of stress of habits, then I would say it’s time to learn an awesome new habit to de-stress. Whether you go for a walk or you sit down and read, making time for you in a relaxed environment is going to be the way to go

5. Invest in Good Sleep

Sometimes, late night cravings really boil down to a lack of good sleep. There are a variety of supplements out there, from melatonin to valerian root, that can help you calm down and get some rest.

I’ve found that taking CALM, a magnesium supplement drink, really helps me unwind as well. I really recommend turning off all electronics 2 hours before you go to sleep so you have some good time to unwind and rest too.

6. Be Aware of Your Blood Sugar Balance

If you have any sorts of blood sugar imbalance, then staying on top of your nutrition is extremely important.

Skipping meals shouldn’t be an option. Instead, choose meals with a good balance of healthy fats, low-glycemic carbs, and proteins to keep you satiated throughout the day. This will prevent spikes and drops in your blood sugar that could really mess with your system!

7. Try Intermittent Fasting

Lastly, if you are really starving every night, intermittent fasting might be a great option to try.

By training your body to only eat during certain time frames, you will naturally adjust and stop getting as hungry during times outside of that “feeding window.” It’s a really good option whether you’re looking to feel good, lose weight, or just regain your relationship to food.

Learn more about intermittent fasting here: Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss (The Ultimate Weight Loss Hack)

So here you are, your new manual for when late night cravings hit. Say goodbye to those miserable binges for good!

More Healthy Snacks

Featured photo credit: Glen Carrie via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

25 Quick and Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work 17 Healthy Late Night Snacks for When Midnight Cravings Hit 20 Delicious and Healthy Breakfast for Weight Loss 8 Wonderful Weight Loss Tracker Apps: Achieve Your Fitness Goals Fast How to Find Weight Loss Meal Plans That Work for You

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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