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The Truth About Eating Before Bed

LATE NIGHT SNACK ATTACKS

To eat or not to eat before bed – that is thee question!

I’d bet a pretty Vegas penny you’ve heard “Eating before bed is BAD and makes you gain weight!” ….

…..Am I right?!

Those late-night snack attacks kick in and there you are! Tip-toeing through kitchen on the hunt for the perfect snack ’cause:

• You’re decompressing after a stressful day – ice cream!

• You’re hormonal and craving something – chips!

• You’re feeling bored – popcorn + Netflix!

Whether you should or should not eat before bed remains the eighth wonder of the world, until now.

So…. is eating before bed “bad”?….Does it make you gain weight?…

I am here to tell you on the surface level, eating before bed does NOT necessarily lead to weight gain.

In fact, there are benefits of bedtime snacking!!!

Whoa, whaaaat?!

The whole fear of eating before bed and gaining weight has NOTHING to do with the fact you are eating before bed but EVERYTHING to do with your overall eating habits:

  1. Types of foods you eat
  2. How much you eat

In today’s blog, you are learning the truth around eating before bed so that you can make the right changes to your current habits to get the results you want! Here’s what’s on deck:

  • What *ACTUALLY* causes you to weight gain
  • Benefits of bedtime snacking
  • 7 bedtime snacks you gotta try!

WHAT CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN

All of us have been (incorrectly) led to believe eating before beds causes weight gain.

Can this be true? Sure, but it can also be very false!

Gaining weight is the direct result of eating MORE calories than you are burning (also known as a calorie surplus).

Consistently eating in a calorie surplus leads to weight gain. It’s that simple and a proven, undisputable science.

So the answer to this question has everything to do with how much you’re eating (quantity) and NOTHING to do with the time of day you eat.

Your body does NOT hold onto to calories differently just because you’re eating late at night. Your body does not know what time it is when you eat so the timing of  meals is completely irrelevant.

Example #1: Let’s say your body needs 1,800 calories a day to maintain its current weight. Whether you eat all 1,800 calories at night before bed or, spread those calories throughout the day, it’s still 1,800 calories. As long as you consistently stay at 1,800 calories, you can maintain your current weight.

Example #2: Let’s take this a step further:

IF you consistently eat more than those 1,800 calories, you will be in a calorie surplus and can gain weight. Now this is where the relationship between eating before bed and gaining weight COULD come into play:

The challenge with eating before bed is first, choices and secondly, calories.

  1. Choices: Most late-night snacks involve high calorie foods: ice cream, chips, pretzels, cereal, frozen pizza, and adult beverages. No shame in your snacking game but calorically speaking, these foods add up quick and don’t fill you up so naturally, you over eat!  Think how easy it is to finish an enture bag of chips while watching TV.
  2. Calories: The second challenge is that for most, late-night snacks are EXTRA calories because by that point, you’ve (likely) already hit your maintenance calories for the day. Extra calories = calorie surplus and that surplus causes weight gain. However, IF the calories you eat before bed are NOT extra calories, then you won’t be in a surplus.

Biggest takeaway: In most cases, anything you eat before bed is typically extra calories and over time, consistently eating MORE calories than you are burning leads to weight gain.

 

THE BENEFITS OF BEDTIME SNACKS

You read that correctly! Enjoying a bedtime snack can very much be a part of a well-balanced diet!

Remember, this has nothing to do with timing and everything to do with quantity (calories).

As a certified nutrition coach, I constantly preach how food = FUEL, with bedtime snacks being no exception. Here’s why eating before bed can actually be good for you:

#1. Stabilizes Blood Sugars: A balanced snack before bed can help keep blood sugar levels stabilized throughout the night so you sleep more soundly.

#2. Keeps You Satisfied: Having a satisfied (not full) belly can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.

#3. Repairs Your Body: Your body repairs itself while you sleep. Adding some fuel to your tank before bed can help this process along.

#4. Suppresses Your Appetite: A snack before bed can improve your morning appetite so you wake less hungry and more energized!

Now, here’s the MOST important tip: not all snacks are created equal.

When choosing a bedtime snack, opt for REAL foods and always include a protein, smart carb and heart-healthy fat to stay satisfied through the night. Below are some examples – get creative, pair together what you like and enjoy!

  • Protein: Greek yogurt, turkey, chicken, tuna, eggs + egg whites, cottage cheese, protein powder for smoothie / smoothie bowl
  • Smart Carbs: fruit, oats, quinoa, whole grains
  • Heart healthy fats: almond / nut / peanut butter, cashews, almonds, pecans, pistashios, pumpkin + chia seeds, avocado, olives, hummus

 

TRY THESE 7 BEDTIME SNACKS

Here are quick, easy and healthy bedtime snacks you can start trying tonight:

#1. Bananas: good source of tryptophan, an amino acid your body converts to serotonin, a brain chemical that controls your mood and sleep.

    • Cottage cheese topped with bananas and a sprinkle of cinnamon
    • Baked bananas. Slice lengthwise and sprinkle with coconut flakes and cinnamon. Bake until soft and warmed through.

#2. Slumber Smoothie: (see recipe below)

#3. Peanut Butter: another great source of tryptophan.

    • PB stuffed sweet potato. Half a baked sweet potato, drizzle with PB and a drizzle of honey.
    • PB toast. Natural PB on a slice of whole grain bread and a sprinkle of chia seeds.

#4. Yogurt: another source of tryptophan.

    • Plain Greek yogurt topped with berries
    • Cookie dough yogurt (see recipe below)

#5. Tart Cherries: contain melatonin, sleep promoting hormone.

    • Tart cherry smoothie-yogurt, frozen banana, frozen cherries

#6. Milk: high in magnesium, which is linked to good sleep.

    • Golden milk-(see recipe below) As an added bonus, the turmeric in golden milk also has anti inflammatory properties.

#7. Cacao Nibs: high in magnesium and healthy fats to keep you satiated.

    • Slice an apple and top with a drizzle of almond butter and a sprinkle of cacao nibs

RECIPES:

Cookie Dough Yogurt:

  • 1 small container plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. nut butter of choice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
  • Mix and enjoy!

Golden Milk

  • 1 Cup of low-fat milk or almond milk
  • 2 tsp. Honey
  • ½ sp. Vanilla
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Turmeric
  • ⅛ tsp. Ground ginger
  • Warm milk and blend with the remainder of ingredients.

Slumber Smoothie

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • Blend and enjoy!

Stay Fueled

 

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