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Published on July 14, 2021

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)
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We’ve all had late-night cravings. Those times when you would lie in bed but your mind is on the fridge. You try to fight it, but you find out that you can’t. Food—you want food—to chew and to drink and to swallow. It usually goes this way: after much hesitation, you would get off your bed and walk over to the kitchen where you would stand for seconds and maybe even minutes contemplating a lot of things.

You have heard about it—read about it, too—the famous “eating late at night isn’t good for you.” You know well about how eating late at night can cause you stress and make you gain weight. But you just want to eat—and eat you must.

But what must you eat? What are your best and most healthy options? Here are the 13 best foods to eat at night.

1. Turkey

If you aren’t a vegetarian, then you most probably love turkey. It is not only very tasty and delicious, but it is quite nutritious, too. Turkey contains a lot of protein. As little as 28 grams of turkey already contains eight grams of protein.[1]

It also contains some amount of vitamins and a nutritive compound called selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in ensuring the thyroid gland functions properly.

Turkey passes as one of the best foods to eat at night because the protein tryptophan, which it contains in a considerable amount, is believed to promote tiredness and thus, sleepiness.[2]

2. Fish

Another great choice for non-vegetarians is fish, especially fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. These are considered healthy choices because they contain a considerable amount of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body regulate its calcium levels and is good for your kidneys, parathyroid glands, skin, etc.

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Fatty fishes also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of healthy fatty acids that can serve as anti-inflammatory agents and are good for the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to be able to increase the amount of serotonin produced by the nervous system, and thus, make sleep feel better.[3] This means that fishes would not keep you awake! You don’t have to roll from side to side trying to fall asleep after eating them.

Fishes also contain nutritive oils that are good for your body and skin.

3. White Rice

White rice is just rice that has no bran germ—that is, both bran and germ have to be removed as a result of processing from brown rice to make it white rice. This removal of bran and germ causes white rice to contain lower fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants when compared with brown rice. However, white rice still contains a commendable amount of nutrients such as thiamine, folate, and manganese and so is great as a late-night meal.

White rice has a high Glycemic Index. (GI). A food’s glycemic index is simply the measure of the rate at which that food increases the body’s sugar level. Taking in foods with a GI index, such as rice, can improve the quality of one’s sleep. This is as long as one takes these foods one hour before sleep. If you plan to sleep by 7 p.m, then it is a good idea to eat white rice by 6.p.m.[4]

4. Bananas

Finally, Something for vegetarians. A fruit! Bananas not only taste good, but they are also rich in the compounds potassium and tryptophan, making them one of the best foods to eat at night.

Tryptophan, as earlier stated, is an essential protein that plays a role in relaxation. Some bananas before meals can improve the quality of your sleep. Plus, they contain vitamins and are rich in antioxidants. They also contain compounds that are capable of making bowel movements easier.

5. Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers, crackers being a source of carbohydrates and cheese a source of tryptophan, can help balance the body’s sugar level. When you take cheese and crackers together, more tryptophan is made available to your brain.[5] The sugar in cheese feeds your brain, and tryptophan helps with the production of melatonin.

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This means that there would be more serotonin and melatonin production in your nervous system when you take cheese and crackers together. Serotonin improves the quality of a person’s sleep.

6. Warm Cereals

Cereals are great sources of fiber. Ones like oats also contain an impressive amount of melatonin, which improves sleep.

Before bed, a hot bowl of cereal and maybe even whole grains are a good choice. They do not contain a lot of calories and would most likely not keep you awake.

7. Yoghurt

Yogurt tastes good, and kids and adults love them. They are also a rich source of calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral to the body. It is necessary for the growth of bone and teeth, and skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles need it for muscular contractions to happen.

Your body also needs calcium to produce melatonin from tryptophan. If calcium levels are low, there will be a reduced rate of production of melatonin—and thus, low quality sleep. Yogurt also contains casein. Casein is believed to reduce early morning hunger.

Unsweetened yogurt is a great snack and one of the best foods to eat at night.

8. Eggs

Eggs are great sources of protein and don’t contain many calories. As a late-night snack, eggs are a great pick. They are easy to cook and can go along with many different kinds of snacks.

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Eggs also contain tryptophan, which—as you must now already know—can improve the quality of one’s sleep.

9. Protein-Pineapple Smoothie

As you may have noticed, most of the snacks and foods on this list of best foods to eat at night are protein-rich foods. Protein-rich meals taken around bedtime can boost muscle repair. They can also combat age-related muscle mass loss especially in people who frequently exercise.

As a late-night snack, you can blend some pineapple pieces into milk. Milk is a great source of the protein tryptophan from which the body produces melatonin. Pineapples do not contain a lot of calories and might not prove a threat to your body’s normal digestive functions. Pineapples can also boost your body’s serotonin levels.[6]

10. Tart Cherries

Juices made from tart cherries are great alongside other snacks, such as crackers and cheese. Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory effects. Even though in small quantities, tart cherries contain the sleep hormone melatonin. They also contain procyanidin B-2, which is believed to keep stable the essential amino acid tryptophan.[7]

Tart Cherries have low calories, too. This means that they are not too heavy and do not pose the threat of fat deposition, and they would not keep you awake.

11. Honey

Honey harvested from bees is nutritious and does not contain a lot of calories. It is known to be capable of increasing the production of melatonin in one’s body.[8]

It also contains healthy sugars, such as fructose and glucose, and can have a healthy effect on your body’s sugar level. Honey is one of the best food to eat late at night.

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12. Popcorn

When it isn’t swathed in sugar and milk and other fatty stuff, popcorn presents as a great late-night snack. Popcorn is a low-calorie snack and contains a rich amount of fiber.[9] High-fiber grains are believed to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Also, popcorn contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants believed to improve circulation and in general, health.

13. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

French fries are amazing. They taste so good. Do you like french fries? Then baked sweet potato fries are a great pick you might want to consider.

As a late-night snack, you can very well bake sweet potatoes instead of frying them. They are easier to prepare when baked and do not contain so much fat. Sweet potatoes contain a good quantity of fiber and vitamins.[10]They also contain some great amounts of protein.

Final Thoughts

When next you have the craving for a late-night meal, you should know that not all meals are great when eaten at night. Some are about right, and others could contribute to excessive weight gain, heart diseases, digestive disorders, and other health issues.

Have you ever woken up with swollen eye bags, felt nauseous, or had malaise after a late-night meal? Then it’s possible the meal was not a great pick.

When choosing the best meals and snacks to eat at night, you should choose meals that contain low calories—not more than 200 calories—and have high protein content. Proteins like tryptophan enhance the quality of sleep. Some of these foods include eggs, turkey, cheese, bananas, yogurt, juices, etc.

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Remember, eating healthy is a great way to remain healthy.

More Healthy Snacks Options

Featured photo credit: K15 Photos via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sara Leandro

Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps people make lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals.

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach) Is Caffeine Bad For You (And How Much Caffeine Is Too Much)? 15 Best Foods Rich in Omega-3

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Published on July 7, 2021

How to Break a Fast When You’re Intermittent Fasting

How to Break a Fast When You’re Intermittent Fasting
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Intermittent fasting (IF) is honestly a hidden gem given the fact that the majority of the population has no idea what it is (yet). I’ve been creating content around intermittent fasting since 2012 on YouTube with one of the more popular videos approaching one million views. Let’s just say that I’m not only a practitioner of IF but also an advocate!

I first began fasting while looking for quick and effective ways to lose weight. You wouldn’t believe some of the dumb things I tried before integrating a fasting routine. Needless to say, they didn’t work and just wasted my time and money.

I’ve posted several photos of the process on my Instagram page. I have a post of my weight loss transformation photo from 2014, which showcased the results of my fasting in 2012.[1] Back then, I fasted every day (minimum of 16 hours, sometimes up to 24 hours) for one year straight while training at least six days a week and achieved great results. I documented the journey more in-depth on my “My 1-year healthy lifestyle transformation” blog post.[2]

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is also known as time-restricted eating. It involves prolonged periods of not consuming food or any calories for that matter. There’s much debate around the topic of what constitutes a true fast, with many debating whether they can consume certain food or beverages without breaking fast.

To be clear, when I was first practicing IF every day for a year straight, I would not consume anything other than water, unflavoured BCAA (branch chain amino acids), and black coffee during the fasting periods.

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A minimum fast is considered to be 14 hours. However, I like to set the bar a little higher with a minimum 16-hour fast and 8-hour eating window. A common question asked is whether or not sleep time counts as fasted time, and the answer is yes, of course! Technically speaking, if you sleep for seven hours, then your remaining fasting time is only nine hours based on the 16-hour minimum.

How to Do Intermittent Fasting

As briefly explained above, the best approach to fasting is to fast for a minimum of 16 hours including sleep time and to consume food within an 8-hour eating window. Of course, you could be more aggressive and fast for 18 hours, 20 hours, and even up to and over 24 hours in some cases (though, I never personally exceeded 24 hours). The tricky thing about fasting for 20 hours is you’ll only leave yourself a 4-hour eating window, and depending on your goals/objectives and caloric requirements, it can be difficult to consume all the needed calories and nutrients within a 4-hour window.

Personally, whenever I fasted for more than 20 hours, I found it challenging to eat enough food while leaving time for digestion, and in most cases, I ended up consuming my entire caloric intake within a single massive meal, which would take about an hour to eat.

If you are new to intermittent fasting, I suggest starting with a 14-hour fast and 10-hour eating window, then after a few days (or a week), scale up to a 16-hour fast then an 18-hour fast. The sweet spot for many is 18-hour fasting.

You can also get a DNA report from 23andme and submit it to Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s Genome Analysis Tool, and it will make suggestions for your ideal fasting period. My DNA report revealed that genetically I benefit from a 16hr+ daily fast, among lots of other resourceful information.

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It’s important to note that water is your best friend while fasting! If you are not consuming an adequate amount of water, you’re not fasting correctly. You don’t want to be fasting from food and dehydrating yourself. That can actually be damaging in some cases. Of course, many people around the world dry-fast for personal or religious reasons, and in all honesty, I’ve never been a supporter of that approach, although some argue there are benefits to it, spiritually/religiously speaking.

How to Break a Fast While Intermittent Fasting

How you break a fast depends on your goals. However, most of the time, people fast for weight loss so the following instructions will focus on that.

When I was fasting for weight loss, I had a very strict routine that proved to be quite successful. It’s important to exercise while fasted so your body doesn’t use readily available energy (calories) from the food you have consumed, but rather, seeks energy from stored fat deposits in the body.

It’s quite simple really – if you haven’t consumed food, then your body will need to source energy from fat to perform an exercise. My routine specifically involved 15-minute warm-up cardio at a moderate pace, leading into bodybuilding-style weight lifting (high repetition), followed by 10-minute cool-down cardio at a moderate pace. Keep in mind that heavy weight lifting isn’t recommended with intermittent fasting, thus, why my focus, in particular, was on high repetition (lower weight) bodybuilding.

Once you have completed a workout while fasting, it’s time to consider what food you will consume to break a fast. I’ve always been a proponent of clean eating while breaking a fast, and that means no fast food or sugar. You don’t want to unwind all of your hard work from fasting and exercise by consuming junk food.

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When I would breakfast after 16, 18, or 20 hours, I would have ready salads, lean meats, such as chicken or steak, and fish. I kept the carbohydrate intake reasonable with brown rice or vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.

Most of the time, when you are breaking a fast with meals, you’ll want to plan ahead so you can allocate enough time for eating the first meal, then digesting it before getting into a second meal. If you are planning to eat all calories within a single meal, keep in mind that it is a bit challenging and may be too taxing on your digestive system. I suggest working your way up to a longer (20-hour) fast with a single meal, however, starting with two to three meals within your eating window.

The common mistake people make while breaking fast is gorging themselves with food, which actually becomes counterproductive and can lead to bloating and discomfort. I urge you to take your time and slowly ease into your first and second meals to ensure that your body is absorbing the nutrients from food and sustaining itself for your next fasting day.

Consider IF to be much like a house of cards in that if you incorrectly stuff yourself with junk food, it can lead to prolonged digestive issues spanning hours, days, or more. Treat your body like a temple, and water-fasting is how you clean and maintain that temple. When breaking a fast, consider all your hard work throughout the day and don’t ruin it with poor nutrition or dietary habits. Focus on the plan, goal, and future results you’ll achieve!

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is one of the most powerful and effective ways to lose weight, detox, and regulate your body. An important takeaway is to consume enough water during your fast, consider eight to ten 16 oz glasses of water per day, and if you feel hungry, drink water.

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Look into unflavoured BCAA’s (Branch chain amino acids) as they are beneficial and will ensure your muscles are sustained and recovering well from exercise. BCAA’s are essential, meaning they can’t be produced by your body and must be obtained from food, which is challenging when you are fasting and not eating. BCAA supplements have been shown to build muscle, decrease muscle fatigue and alleviate muscle soreness.

One final takeaway is to plan and execute religiously. This means you should be focused and dedicated to your goals and will not waiver, which can be challenging when you’re hungry at a party or buffet with everyone around you eating while you’re drinking plain water. Trust me, I went to many social gatherings with tons of food and beverages while fasting, and the mental game is possibly the most important aspect of maintaining your fasted state.

As always, I encourage you to reach out to me on social media to share your progress and results with IF, and I wish you all the best in your fasting endeavors!

More Intermittent Fasting Tips

Featured photo credit: Kim Cruickshanks via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Instagram: Adam Evans
[2] Adam Evans: My 1-year healthy lifestyle transformation

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