You may often hear not to eat before bed. Will it wreck your weight goals? Will it wreck your chances of sleep? What you eat before bed can affect both of those things, but good news - you don’t entirely need to abstain from food. You just need to choose wisely to keep your fitness goals and your sleep goals in tact.
What types of healthy foods should you focus on having?
The best foods to eat are those that promote sleep, help to stabilize your blood sugar, and are naturally lower in fat. (Sorry, those low fat devil’s food cake cookies aren’t going to the best option!) Keeping your blood sugar stabilized through the night can be key for weight loss - and something that fasting won’t do for you. Too much fat or even protein can get your body geared up to do more, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. So, if you can’t seem to stay asleep, look at what you’re eating in the hours after dinner. That might be the culprit!
How much can you have?
Even if you’re choosing healthy foods, you shouldn’t eat a full meal right before bed. But there’s a fine line between going to bed hungry and having a holiday feast! Choose smaller portions, much like you would for a pre-workout snack. Many experts suggest keeping this snack to under 200 calories.
What specific foods can you eat?
Walnuts are one of the few foods that naturally include melatonin, the hormone your body produces to stimulate sleep. Melatonin works so well, some even take supplements as a sleep aid. According to studies, eating walnuts can increase the amount of melatonin in your blood. Eating walnuts alone may not increase your levels as much as a supplement, but it’s a great healthy food choice to give your body an extra boost of sleepiness.
Cherries are another natural source of melatonin. If the fruit is too much of a hassle before bed, consider a glass of juice - it’ll work just the same. Instead of having the juice alone, add in a few bites of whole grains crackers, or something else on this list to fill your stomach and add additional fiber.
Did you know bananas contain tryptophan? In addition to the sleep causing amino acid you’re familiar with from turkey, bananas contain magnesium and potassium, for lots of happy relaxation. Bananas often contain small amounts of melatonin, making this one a real winner for helping to cause sleep.
Cereal and Low Fat Milk
Whole grain cereal (no Fruit Loops!) can help you feel fuller faster, as well as bringing that feeling of relaxed contentment whole grains provide. (That’s why pasta always feels like comfort food.) The complex carbs will also increase your body’s ability to use tryptophan. Speaking of tryptophan, all dairy contains tryptophan - this is why your relatives may suggest having a warm glass of milk when you’re tired! Milk also contains high levels of calcium, something that can increase the production of melatonin.
For many of the same reasons milk is a good idea before bed, greek yogurt is aswell. Greek yogurt can be easier on the body to digest as it usually contains less lactose, something that may prove helpful before bed. The protein in the yogurt is a good amount to keep you full, without overwhelming your body.
Feel free to add in things like honey, walnuts, or banana. All of these will help you get to sleep in different ways.
Yes, we just approved having guacamole before bed. Avocado is high in magnesium, which can help relax you, and affect how well you sleep - and even if you wake up early. If you have a sweet tooth, try whipping up an avocado “milkshake”. You’ll never taste the avocado, and you get all the creamy feeling of ice cream without the extra weight to your middle. Our favorite recipe includes banana and milk, making it a perfect choice before it’s time to hit the bed.
Other favorites you may be familiar with for causing sleep include:
- Cottage cheese
- Brown Rice
- Almonds (think almond butter!)
When choosing healthy foods to satisfy the nighttime rumble of your stomach, try considering which of these foods you can pair together, or if there’s other foods that have similar qualities that you enjoy. When in doubt, you can always ask your personal trainer.
Looking for the best personal training studio in Central Jersey? Look further: Jersey Strong has everything you need and more.