Q: I find that I am always hungry at night even after a good meal. What are some healthy snacks you’d recommend that are ok for eating later at night and wont affect our sleep?
A: Before addressing good late-night snack options, I have two questions for you: Are you eating enough of the throughout the day? What is the macronutrient (carb/protein/fat) makeup of the good meal?
Some people skimp on calories throughout the day and by evening they are just hungry. And for some reason when we’re hungry at night, we tend toward junkie food options – like we’ve been socially programmed to believe that whatever we eat after dinner is dessert. Is it possible that this is the case with you?
The other thing that can happen is that if you are eating too much carbohydrate, you may find that you get prematurely hungry. I do not want to suggest a high protein diet as I think that’s only appropriate for some people, but I do think that most people who eat a “balanced diet” are actually eating a high carbohydrate diet. Is it possible that you fall into this category? If so, increasing protein and fat content a bit and decreasing carbs and switching from processed carbs to fibrous carbs might help reduce your late night appetite.
Even with a good diet, there are definitely some people who are just hungry often. The general recommendation is to eat something that has protein in it the rationale being that carbs before bed will just turn to fat because while you sleep your metabolism slows right down so you expend very few calories. Ideally you want minimal sugar and caffeine so that you’re not wired.
According to Amanda Carlson, Director of Performance Nutrition for Athletes Performance, you should try cottage cheese, 3 oz of turkey and some almonds, yoghurt and fruit, or peanut butter and a banana.
The other thing to think about is serving size. If you’ve eaten well throughout the day, you really don’t need much food to address the hunger. I think this is another societal thing – we aren’t very good at having small servings. One of my personal night-time snack options is a bowl of high-fiber cereal with milk. It is a bit high in carb, but for me it works. The trick is that “a serving” is 1 cup of cereal with 1/2 cup of milk. It does the trick and is only 240 calories.
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