We have all been told that eating at night is taboo. In reality, the reason you may have gained (or not been able to lose) weight probably has more to do with what you are eating and how much you are eating rather than the time of day you are eating. Snacks at night can offer some surprising benefits- when you choose healthy snacks. Eating the right protein at night can help you build muscle while you sleep. Eating low-glycemic carbs at night can help control your blood sugar the next day and even help you regulate your appetite. Here are my favorite snacks for late night treats.
Chocolate is often seen as a forbidden food — but not all chocolate is created equal. There is a big nutritional difference between your average convenience-store chocolate candy and cacao-rich dark chocolate. The dark chocolate lacks the high added sugar content of traditional chocolate and instead provides you an antioxidant punch that has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, fight inflammation and improve your mood. Next time you need to wind down at night, have an ounce of your favorite dark chocolate (70 percent cacao or greater).
Pistachios in the shell are an excellent nighttime snack because the shelling process requires some work, consequently slowing down how fast you can eat them. The slower you eat, the less you will consume. Another bonus with pistachios is that you get to eat more nuts per ounce (49 nuts) than any other nut. The combination of getting to eat more and having to eat them slower makes pistachios one of the best options. In addition, nuts come with a unique nutritional package because they contain fiber, biotin, vitamin B6, thiamin, folate, unsaturated fats and plant sterols, all of which makes them highly nutritious as well as satisfying. If you are looking for something more, you can pair pistachios with goat cheese or a fruit like raspberries.
The hallmark of a good nighttime snack is a food that will fulfill a nagging craving while at the same time helping you to relax, unwind and get ready for bed. Roasted pumpkin seeds meet this challenge. One serving of pumpkin seeds contains almost 50 percent of your recommended intake of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that is used in more than 300 reactions in your body. One key area that magnesium addresses is relaxation. Magnesium is a relaxant, and high-magnesium snacks are ideal for helping you unwind at night. And the slight saltiness of roasted pumpkin seeds curbs your salty-snack craving that is usually quelled with potato chips.
WARM MILK AND HONEY
Warm milk has long been used as a sleep aid, making it a good late-night snack choice if you have trouble dozing off at night. It’s interesting to note that, despite people swearing by the effectiveness of a warm glass of milk aiding in relaxation efforts, the effect may be more psychological than physiological. It was once thought that the tryptophan in milk led to increases in the feel-good hormone serotonin. However, the additional amino acids in milk can actually prevent the tryptophan from preferentially getting into your brain. Adding honey to your warm milk will slightly boost the sugar content of your snack. This extra sugar is easily digested and can stimulate hormones that drive the formation of serotonin, making your warm milk assist in your sleep efforts from a psychological and physiological perspective.
The cold sweetness of frozen blueberries is very refreshing at the end of the day. Frozen blueberries are packed with just as many high-powered antioxidants as their fresh counterparts because they are flash frozen at peak ripeness. Blueberries are one of the best foods that you can eat for your health. Research has shown that the nutrients in blueberries can help improve brain function and heart health.
Nuts have been traditionally pitted as a “bad” snack food for weight loss due to their high fat content. But a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate almonds lost just as much weight at 18 months compared with people who abstained from eating almonds. In addition, people who ate almonds experienced greater improvements in their total cholesterol and triglycerides — two key cardiovascular disease risk factors. Almonds are also another food that is high in magnesium. One ounce of almonds (about a quarter-cup) can be snacked on raw, roasted or seasoned with your favorite spice like curry or chili powder.
BERRIES AND CREAM
The combination of berries and cream is a simple and satisfying dessert. By substituting full-fat plain Greek yogurt for the cream, you can still enjoy a high-protein version of this luscious dessert. Top half a cup of full-fat plain Greek yogurt with a quarter-cup of blackberries and a quarter-cup of raspberries.