Your efforts to lose weight by eating a large meal (but calling it a snack) around bedtime could be in vain. Eating late at night is seriously sabotaging your efforts to lose weight. Losing weight is basic mathematics:
Calories Eaten – Calories Burned = Fat Lost
Did you know to lose one-pound you have to burn about 3,500 calories? According to the Mayo Clinic:
Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So, in general, if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’d lose about 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories)
So if your late night snack, looks like the image above, you probably will not be losing any weight anytime soon.
In fact, according to nutritional and scientific research taking late-night calories (near Dim-light Melatonin Onset – DLMO) triggers more weight gain compared to taking the same food during the day.
What is Melatonin? According to the website SLEEPONTARIO.COM (opens a PDF file):
Melatonin is a hormone found in all living creatures from algae to humans. In higher animals melatonin is produced by pinealocytes in the pineal gland in the brain which is about the size of a pea and is located in the centre of the brain. Melatonin helps regulate the circadian rhythm. It is naturally synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan . Production of melatonin by the pineal gland is under the influence of the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus (SCN) which receives information from the retina about the daily pattern of light and darkness.
What is DLMO? According to the website SLEEPONTARIO.COM (opens a PDF file):
The human body produces its own melatonin starting two hours before bedtime, provided the lighting is dim. This natural action is known as “dim light melatonin onset” (DLMO) and helps keep the body on a regular sleep-wake schedule.
Are you surprised?
Well, you shouldn’t. At night, your body will be process and store, in the form of fats, most of the calories it has taken in (whatever you did not burn throughout the day). But we know the other side of the story – you are hungry, and if you don’t have something you may not be able to sleep.
Before you race towards the refrigerator, have a glass or two of water. Perhaps you’re thirsty and not hungry.
However, if you are still feeling hungry, then consider some of these snacks that will not put on the pounds. Just choosing the right nutritionist-approved snack might even be good for you!
What Are Healthy Snacks To Help You Lose Weight?
These snacks are great during the day or even before bedtime.
Yes, popcorn is a healthy snack that will help you lose weight. But, don’t confuse air-popped popcorn with your regular oil popped popcorn that are favourite snacks in movie theatres or even microwaved popcorn (which has its issues). Air-popped popcorn will supply fewer calories, but more fibre and thus do not deposit excess fats in your body.
According to the Agricultural Research, one serving of the air-popped popcorn will have 30 calories, but the oil-popped popcorn will supply 55 calories – 27g of which are from fat.
Also, the air-popped popcorn contains 1.2g of fibre while oil-popped popcorn has 1.1g of fibre.
However, don’t add salt and oil or butter as such a process will add excess sodium (97mg) and 3g of fat, which will lead to weight gain.
Cottage Cheese and Peanut Butter
Cottage cheese is a low-calorie snack while natural peanut butter will increase the digestion time of the snack.
But how will Cottage cheese help you lose weight?
Cottage cheese contains lots of casein protein that are known to take longer to release into the body. Protein will keep you feeling full, longer. Therefore, eating cottage cheese will guarantee that you have a steady stream of amino acids supply throughout the night. Also, Cottage cheese contains tryptophan, an ingredient that will aid your sleep.
By controlling digestion, natural peanut butter will control your hunger levels and thus the temptation to go back to the fridge for another helping.
Apple with Peanut Butter
Peanut butter contains healthy fat and proteins that are great for cholesterol. When eaten together with a crunchy apple, you’ll get the addition of fibre and protein that will make you feel full for longer.
Just slice an apple and spread some peanut butter just like you do with toast and you may also add some cinnamon.
But what is the nutrition value of this snack?
Two tablespoon of peanut butter has about 180 calories while a small skinned raw apple will give you 76 calories.
The apple will provide 4 grams of dietary fibre, to give you some digestive benefits and keep you full longer.
Further, the 2-tablespoon peanut butter will add about 2 grams of fibre and 8 grams of proteins. The proteins and fibre increase your satiety. Also, peanut butter – all-natural – will increase your resting metabolism by about 10 percent.
Almonds will keep you satiated as they have a high fibre content and will also provide some fat. Recent research has shown that people who have an almonds rich diet lose more weight compared to those on a high-carb diet, particularly with an equal number of calories. Therefore, it’s time we went against the traditional thought that a calorie is a calorie by adopting more almond bedtime snacks for weight loss.
Blueberries are generally available throughout the year, if you don’t have fresh blueberries in the home then frozen is just as good.
Dark coloured berries or Blue Berries are rich in cyanidin tri glucoside (C3G) that is critical in preventing neurodegenerative conditions. Blueberries supply antioxidants, vitamins and over 4 grams of fibre. Antioxidants are essential for the body since they fight free-radicals which break down the body. Typically fruits that have the dark pigments come with an increased antioxidant ability that can fight cardiovascular conditions and even cancer.
While blueberries will add some sweetness (and vitamin C), this is not refined sugar which is bad for you. You should choose foods with natural sugars, over refined sugars (which is found in most if not all snack foods in the grocers isle). You could even add a bowl of microwaveable oatmeal and top that with blueberries. You will feel full without adding hundreds of extra and useless calories at bedtime. If you decide on oatmeal, chose plain over the flavoured selections.
But even blueberries by themselves will provide you with a healthy, nutritious snack without increasing the amount of table sugar you take.
As we noted above, additional fibre in your late night snack is a critical part of losing weight and keeping you feel full longer.
Each banana will supply about 100 calories, and has the amino acid tryptophan that will help your body produce melatonin and serotonin. These chemical are excellent for sleep and mood regulation. If a plain banana is not your thing, you can mix some almonds, half a banana and honey to make a filling snack. These three items combined only add about 85 calories.
While we should avoid processed food while aiming to lose weight, string cheese contains only 80 calories in its constituent fat and proteins that will keep you satiated. Also since you don’t have to worry about cutting it up, it makes for an easy snack to grab.
Just to keep in mind, most processed foods are high in salt so you should limit the types of foods you are eating.
Cheese also has the amino acid tryptophan that will aid your sleeping, which can help you avoid the temptation of excessive eating during bedtime.
While cheese has no carbohydrates but has vitamin A, calcium and lean protein that is suitable monounsaturated fat.
Finally… One Last Word
Losing weight is never easy. However, you can take the healthier route by taking healthy snacks before your bedtime or anytime during the day.
Some of the snacks like the air-popped popcorn will involve a slight adjustment from what you may be currently doing but the end results will be something worth celebrating!