The struggle is real for people trying to lose weight. It seems that everywhere you turn, there’s something tempting to eat; days can be so long and rough, it can be hard to find motivation for the gym. There are also plenty of opportunities to do a little snacking; the added calories can put you in trouble. You might think that having a snack just before bed would be especially bad for your diet: all those calories being gained, and no exercise to burn them off, but a long sedentary period instead. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.
While certain bedtime snacking situations could hurt your diet, there’s no hard and fast rule about *not* snacking right before bedtime. What causes weight gain is the intake of calories, specifically, when the intake of calories via food is greater than the calories burned for energy via exercise. On a daily basis, it doesn’t really matter when you eat; if you eat just once, be it morning or night, or spread the same caloric intake evenly over the day, the calories affect your weight the same. However, there is a relationship between nighttime snacks and weight gain.
Generally, people who eat late at night do so because they are hungry. This may be because the did not eat enough over the day. Binge eating at night may make a person less likely to eat in the morning, perpetuating said cycle. These people are eating *more* calories if they happen to pile them on to ‘make up’ for skipping breakfast, which leads to weight gain. The question is not whether or not you should eat at night, but what you should eat to beat cravings without packing on pounds or ruining sleep. Here are some good snack choices.
8. String Cheese
You might hesitate here because cheese is a fatty dairy product on top of that, there is the fact that string cheese is also a processed food. However, fat in foods is not really a problem, provided it does not come in excess. String cheese provides a nice bit of fat, along with some protein. This can help you to feel sated late at night, and therefore less likely to keep eating, which would throw off your calorie balance. Furthermore, the string cheese itself is not a significant source of calories. Generally, string cheese provides less than 100 calories.
Cereal is already a popular late-night snack- it’s also great for those Saturday morning cartoons. Keep in mind, however, that cereals have a lot of variation; some cereals are fine to eat at night, while others can be problematic. Specifically, you’ll want to stay away from cereals high in sugar- late at night, these would cause a spike in energy and leave you restless, unable to sleep. There’s also the fact that sugar provides excess calories. Instead, aim for whole grain cereals, like bran or oats. These tend to have much fewer calories and provide helpful nutrients, such as fiber.