5 Healthy and Quick Bedtime Snacks for Weight Loss

The jury is still out on whether eating late at night leads to weight gain. But one thing is certain: if you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. The number of calories you consume or cut per day makes a big difference.

But when late-night hunger pangs strike, we recommend having one of the following healthy snacks rather than a few slices of pizza or a bowl of ice cream.These tasty bedtime snacks are low in calories, good for your health and will help you in losing weight!

1. Avocado with cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is packed with natural protein and fills you up without a lot of calories. Studies have shown that a higher protein intake (for example, through dairy products) can lead to weight loss success. Cottage cheese also contains the essential amino acid tryptophan. This calms the nervous system and makes it easier to fall asleep. Tip: If you add a little avocado to your cottage cheese, you provide your body with high-quality fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats are good for your cholesterol levels and cardiovascular system.

2. Carrot sticks with hummus dip

Baby carrots or carrot sticks with two tablespoons of hummus – this is an ideal good night snack. Valuable fatty acids, high-quality protein and fiber leave you feeling full without weighing down your stomach. The dip is easy to make on your own.

3. Apple slices with peanut butter

If you get hungry before bedtime, cut an apple into slices and put one or two teaspoons of peanut butter on top. It tastes so good! But make sure to use natural peanut butter. It shouldn’t contain any palm oil, sugar or other additives.

4. Greek yogurt with blueberries

Did you know that blueberries are extremely high in nutrients? They contain plenty of antioxidants, which have a positive effect on your immune system. They are also low in calories. Together with Greek yogurt they make for a high-protein snack that keeps your body supplied with nutrients overnight.

5. Whole grain toast with ham

A slice of whole grain toast with two slices of low-fat ham can satisfy small cravings before going to bed. Plus, the snack is low in calories (just 150 in total) and contains 10 g of protein.

Which of these bedtime snacks is your favorite? Tell us your opinion in the comments below!

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The Worst Foods to Eat at Night If You Want to Lose Weight

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There’s no need to deny yourself a late-night snack if you’re feeling hungry, but you still have to think smart when it comes to eating late. Eating the wrong foods will disrupt your sleep while also adding a lot of unneeded calories to your day. Instead of just diving into the nearest, tastiest-looking item in your fridge, here are five types of foods to avoid at night and why.

1. Greasy or fat-filled foods. Greasy, heavy, fatty foods not only make you feel sluggish the next morning, but they also make your stomach work overdrive to digest all that food. Stay away from things like fast food, nuts, ice cream, or super cheesy foods right before bed.

2. High-carb or sugary foods. A little bit of something sweet before bed may be just what you need to rest happy, but if you gobble a huge slice of chocolate cake, the spike in your blood-sugar levels could cause your energy levels to spike and plummet, disrupting your sleep in the process. Avoid cake, cookies, or other desserts as well as carby snacks like crackers or white bread and munch on an apple instead.

3. Red meat and other proteins. Like fatty foods, eating red meats late at night will sit in your stomach and make it hard for you to fall asleep while you’re digesting (red meat may affect you the worst, but eating a large portion of chicken or pork would have the same effect as well). You don’t have to avoid protein altogether, just make sure you go for lean and small portions, like deli-sliced turkey breast or a cup of yogurt.

4. Spicy foods. Spices may be a natural cure-all for a range of ailments, but when you’re craving something to eat late at night, step away from the hot sauce. Spicy, peppery foods may upset your stomach, and the chemicals in spicy food can also stimulate your senses, making it hard to fall asleep.

5. Big portions. Late-night snacking shouldn’t turn into a late-night meal. Keep the total amount of calories under 200 so you won’t have any problems going and staying asleep. You’ll also feel good knowing that you didn’t undo all your healthy eating habits of the day right before bedtime.

So what should you eat instead? Small, light portions that will also calm cravings and help you sleep. Try incorporating these sleep-inducing foods or these low-calorie late-night snacks that hit all your sweet or salty cravings. And remember to limit how much alcohol you drink as well, since too many drinks can keep you up at night.

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  • By POPSUGAR Fitness @POPSUGARFitness

What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight

Find out what dinner foods can help you lose weight healthfully.

When you’re trying to slim down, every meal-and calorie-counts. But that doesn’t mean that dinner has to be a skimpy salad. You can build a filling, diet-friendly dinner (that includes dessert) around these four slimming ingredients.

Don’t Miss: The Best Dinner Foods to Help You Lose Weight

1. Salad Greens

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Pictured Recipe: Watercress Salad with Grapes, Blue Cheese & Pecans

Start your supper with a simple salad: it’s low in calories and research out of Penn State shows that eating a first-course salad can cut your overall calorie intake at a meal by up to 12 percent. Plus, a vegetable-packed salad delivers fiber, a must-have when you’re dieting. Fiber helps you stay satisfied longer-and, according to one study, upping your fiber intake may help prevent extra pounds from creeping on and even promote weight loss.

Get More: High-Protein Salad Recipes

2. Lean Protein

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Pictured Recipe: Hasselback Caprese Chicken

Beef, chicken, pork, fish, tofu or beans-it doesn’t matter which you pick-all are protein-rich. Gram for gram, protein will keep you feeling fuller longer compared to carbohydrates and fat (read: help keep those midnight snack attacks at bay). And don’t forget about dairy: recent research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that the protein in dairy (called whey protein) may help ward off weight gain and help build lean body mass.

3. Whole Grains

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Pictured Recipe: Black Bean-Quinoa Buddha Bowl

You probably already know that for overall health you should be making at least half of your grains whole grains. But choosing whole grains-such as brown rice, quinoa and whole-wheat bread-100 percent of the time may give you an extra edge when it comes to weight loss. When researchers put volunteers on a three-month weight-loss program and instructed one group to eat only whole grains for their grain servings and the other group to choose only refined grains (and avoid whole grains entirely), the whole-grain eaters melted significantly more abdominal fat. While the fiber in whole grains may deserve some of the credit, researchers note that whole grains are rich in magnesium, a mineral instrumental in regulating fat metabolism.

Get More: High-Fiber Whole Grain Recipes

4. Dessert

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Pictured Recipe: One-Bowl Monster Cookies

Though this isn’t exactly an ingredient, it’s pretty sweet news that it may be easier to stick to your diet if it includes a little sweet treat? Well, it’s true. Banning sugary foods could lead to overeating. Removing access to sweet foods stimulates the release of a molecule in your brain called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), produced when you’re afraid, anxious or stressed, says Pietro Cottone, Ph.D., who studied what happens when people give up sweets. And increased stress levels may lower your motivation to eat more nutritious foods, making it more likely that you’ll binge on junk food.

Face it: Even when you fuel your body with whole grains, lean protein, and fruits and vegetables all day long, sometimes you find yourself raiding the kitchen cabinets at 9 p.m. because you’re starving.

And at that point, anything looks good—including those stale Oreos (no one wants to go to bed hungry, right?).

But here’s the thing about bedtime snacking: It’s not exactly the best way to lose weight. A 2017 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually found that people who eat before bed tend to have higher amounts of body fat.

Still, when you’re hungry, you’re hungry—and not all bedtime snacks are diet-ruiners; some healthy ones can actually promote sleep, while still keeping your weight-loss goals on track. Try healthy late night snacks that will fill you up, bring on restful sleep, and even help you wake feeling more energized in the morning—all without derailing your healthy-eating efforts.

1. An apple with peanut butter

Jamie GrillGetty Images

Slice up an apple and dip it into one tablespoon of natural peanut butter. The fiber in the apple and the healthy fat in the peanut butter is a combo that will tide you over until wake-up time, says Amy Gorin, R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area.

Per serving: 200 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 28 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 55 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein.

2. A chocolate pudding cup

Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding Kozy Shack amazon.com

When you’re craving dessert late at night, opt for a single-serve sweet treat like pudding. The milk offers protein, and as long as you’re mindful of the brand, it doesn’t have to be high in sugar. Gorin recommends Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding since it contains minimal ingredients and additives.

Per serving: 140 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 140 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein.

3. A peach with nonfat cottage cheese

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Jessica Crandall, R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says this duo is chock full of filling protein and fiber with the added benefits of calcium and vitamin C. Buy single-serve (four-ounce) cups of cottage cheese to make your healthy late night snack prep super simple.

Per serving: 150 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 23 g sugar, 820 mg sodium, 2.2 g fiber, 25 g protein.

4. Wasabi almonds

Blue Diamond Almonds, Bold Wasabi & Soy Sauce amazon.com $6.86

Almonds are high in protein and fiber as well as selenium and magnesium, says Crandall. This is good news for nut lovers, because while the protein and fiber fills you up, the magnesium may help you fall asleep. Choose a bold flavor like wasabi—it really kicks your snack up a notch.

Per serving: 170 calories, 15 g fat (1 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 115 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein.

5. Dried Montmorency tart cherries

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Tart cherries supply melatonin, which Gorin says helps regulate your internal clock and may be able to increase overall sleep efficiency. She likes to snack on a quarter cup before bedtime.

Per serving: 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 10 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein.

6. Whole-grain toast with a scoop of guacamole

Dave’s Killer Bread, 21 Whole Grains Thin-Sliced amazon.com $23.99

Toast a slice of whole-grain bread and top it with two tablespoons of guacamole for healthy fat. Gorin recommends Dave’s Killer Bread Thin-Sliced 21 Whole Grains and Seeds. It comes in at 60 calories a slice and provides satiating protein and fiber.

Per serving: 105 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 15 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 185 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein.

7. Nonfat Greek yogurt with chia seeds

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Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and fiber; Crandall says topping it with a tablespoon of chia seeds, which are rich in iron and fiber, really gives your healthy late-night snack a powerful punch.

Per serving: 160 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 65 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 15 g protein.

8. Black olives

Pearls Olives To Go! amazon.com $23.67

When you want to feel full for a very small amount of calories, Gorin suggests reaching for a Pearls Olives to Go! snack cup. They’re perfectly portioned, providing a fueling snack with healthy fats for just about 30 calories.

Per serving: 30 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 2 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 300 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.

9. Banana with a handful of sunflower seeds

Daniel Sambraus / EyeEmGetty Images

Gorin loves pairing a high-fiber banana with two tablespoons of shelled, dry-roasted sunflower seeds. The duo offers filling healthy fats as well as tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body create melatonin.

Per serving: 150 calories, 4.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 29 g carbs, 15 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein.

10. A bowl of cereal with skim milk

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Cereal Almond amazon.com

Cereal: it’s not just for breakfast. Look for one that’s low in sugar and high in protein and fiber, like Ezekiel 4:9 Almond Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal. It’s bursting with nothing but good-for-you ingredients, says Gorin, including whole grains (think sprouted wheat, barley, millet, and spelt), almonds, lentils, and soybeans. Topped with a little skim milk for calcium, this is a great choice for a healthy late night snack.

Per serving: 115 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 128 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein.

11. Baby carrots

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Gorin recommends a dozen baby carrots for those nights when you want the crunch factor of a bag of potato chips without the regret. They’re low in calories but high in fiber, so they’ll fill you up better than chips while satisfying your urge to chew on something.

Per serving: 40 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 10 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 95 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein.

12. Pistachios

Wonderful Pistachios, Sweet Chili amazon.com $18.85

Pistachios provide a filling trio of plant protein, fiber, and healthy fat, and—because they’re in a shell—they take longer to eat, which Gorin says reduces the risk of mindless munching in front of the TV. Try a Wonderful Pistachios 100-calorie pack, which comes in several different flavors, including sweet chili.

Per serving: 100 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 5 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 180 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein.

13. Wheat crackers with low-sodium turkey breast

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The protein in the lunch meat will keep you full until your alarm clock goes off, and the whole grains in the wheat crackers are heart-healthy, says Crandall.

Per serving: 178 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 22 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 675 mg sodium, 1.8 g fiber, 11 g protein.

14. Cooked edamame

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They may not look like much, but edamame beans are high in protein and fiber (a.k.a. filling AF), Crandall says. She recommends seasoning them with garlic and red pepper flakes after cooking.

Per serving: 200 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 18 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 60 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 16 g protein.

15. Hummus and grape tomatoes

Sabra Classic Singles amazon.com

Grab a container of protein- and fiber-rich Sabra Classic Hummus Singles, and use a half cup of grape tomatoes as dippers—Gorin says tomatoes offer melatonin to help you sleep.

Per serving: 180 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 280 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 6 g protein.

16. Air-popped popcorn

Photo by Bhaskar DuttaGetty Images

Steer clear of bags of microwave popcorn—they’re loaded with unnecessary ingredients. Instead, Crandall suggests air-popping your own kernels and sprinkling two cups of popcorn with nutritional yeast or cinnamon for a high-fiber, high-volume healthy late-night snack.

Per serving: 62 calories, 1 g fat (0.1 g saturated), 12 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 2.4 g fiber, 2 g protein.

17. A pear with cheese

Jamie GrillGetty Images

You really can’t go wrong with a fruit and dairy pairing. Crandall says that cheese is high in calcium and the pear provides filling fiber and immune-boosting vitamin C. A strong cheese, like stilton or goat, is a nice compliment to the subtle flavor of pears.

Per serving: 190 calories, 9 g fat (6 g saturated), 21 g carbs, 14 g sugar, 181 mg sodium, 5.5 g fiber, 7 g protein.

18. A banana oatmeal cookie

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For a delicious treat with zero guilt, Crandall says to mix half a banana with rolled oats and a tablespoon of cacao nibs, form into two small mounds, flatten a bit on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

This snack takes a little more preparation, but the cookies are packed with fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, and you could even have another for breakfast in the morning.

Per serving: 152 calories, 3 g fat (1.3 g saturated), 29 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 4.5 g fiber, 2 g protein.

19. Hardboiled eggs with Everything Bagel seasoning

Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend \ amazon.com $6.32

Hardboiled eggs boast a lot of protein for not a lot of calories, so you can slice up two eggs before bedtime for a filling snack. Sprinkle with Trader Joe’s delicious Everything Bagel seasoning to jazz up the taste, suggests Gorin.

Per serving: 145 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated), 140 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 220 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 13 g protein.

20. Nonfat Greek yogurt with frozen berries

Westend61Getty Images

You know that Greek yogurt is loaded with protein (you already topped it with chia seeds, remember?), but it’s back again—this time to be served with frozen berries. Crandall says the berry blend is high in antioxidant power and vitamin C. Plus, those frozen berries will make this taste more like delicious fro-yo than plain old yogurt.

Per serving: 135 calories, 0 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 24 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 72 mg sodium, 1.5 g fiber, 12 g protein.

7 Bedtime Snacks to Boost Your Metabolism

Pictured recipe: Cinnamon-Sugar Roasted Chickpeas

Perhaps you compare the calories and macros from one brand of bread to another. Or maybe you note the calorie-burned tally on the treadmill as you wrap up that final quarter mile. But how often do you consider your basal metabolic rate (BMR)?

BMR, aka the total number of calories your body burns at rest, is a major determinant in overall body composition. A 35-year-old, 5′ 5″ woman torches about 1,300 calories simply by being alive. (Calculate yours here.)

“Metabolism is largely determined by genetics, but you can impact yours by increasing muscle mass. Muscle mass is metabolically active, so your body needs more baseline calories to function. The best fuel for that growth is slow-burning complex carbohydrates and protein,” says nutritionist Rania Batayneh, M.P.H., the owner of Essential Nutrition For You and the author of The One One One Diet.

Related:4 Ways to Boost Metabolism

And speaking of that protein, it scored a lot of attention last fall when a British Journal of Nutrition study discovered that noshing on 30 grams of the muscle-building macro right before calling it a day may lead to a metabolic jump start.

So can you snack your way slimmer to burn even more calories while you sleep?

“The jury is out on whether our before-bedtime eating patterns have a significant effect on metabolism. Studies do show that people who eat before bed are more likely to gain weight, but that might be because bedtime snacks tend to be higher in calories, sugar and unhealthy fats, and many bedtime behaviors (watching TV, scrolling through Instagram) lead to mindless munching. However, others believe that nighttime eating might reduce cravings and overeating, resulting in weight loss,” Batayneh says.

Further proof of the scientific seesaw about presleep snacks: One study published in the journal Nutrients found that a 150-calorie snack before bed may help your body utilize its protein sources to create muscle, and, in turn, boost metabolism. But new research in the Journal of Obesity reported that those who ate late dinners or bedtime snacks were more likely to skip breakfast (and be overweight). Consuming a healthy, well-balanced breakfast daily is a habit that’s been linked to increased nutrient consumption and better luck at weight-loss maintenance.

“Your metabolism slows down when you sleep, so nighttime is the slowest time for your digestion. Generally speaking, metabolism drops 10 to 15 percent during the night and can even reach a 35 percent decrease during your deepest sleep cycles,” says Erin Thole-Summers, R.D., a registered dietitian and sports nutrition consultant in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Still, eating a small nutrient-dense snack before bed can give your body the energy it needs to take care of metabolic functions while you are resting,” especially if you exercise in the late afternoon or evening.

So while a bedtime snack isn’t going to be the magic bullet to boost metabolism, it likely won’t hurt your overall health goals-and can actually help you sleep more soundly and feel even better tomorrow. The optimal bedtime snack should fall between 150 to 250 calories, Thole-Summers says, and include a mix of fiber-rich carbs and protein to fill you up.

“Consuming protein stimulates muscle growth and repair post-exercise,” Thole-Summers adds.

Try these seven dietitian-approved healthy bedtime snack ideas about two to three hours after dinner and 60 to 90 minutes before bed, and your BMR will say TIA.

7 Bedtime Snacks to Help Boost Metabolism

Best for Those Craving a Mini Meal:

1 slice whole-grain toast + 2 tablespoons hummus (such as our homemade Classic Hummus recipe)

145 calories, 6 g protein*

“Toast isn’t just for breakfast,” Batayneh says. “Hummus is made with chickpeas, which are rich in B vitamins. The main function of the B vitamins is to help your body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and to use the stored energy in food.”

Prepare your hummus-topped treat using a slice of high-fiber whole-wheat bread as the base. Not only will this good grain add satisfying fiber to the mix, it may also help you score more zzz’s.

Magnesium, which wheat flour is a good source of, “has been shown to have a positive effect on the quality of sleep in adults with insomnia by extending the time they spent asleep,” Thole-Summers says.

Best for a Muscle Boost:

6 ounces (¾ cup) 2% cottage cheese + ½ cup pitted tart cherries

170 calories, 22 g protein

As the much-discussed 2018 Florida State University study reported, cottage cheese is a top-notch tuck-in snack.

“Consuming protein before bed can help your muscles repair themselves and may support their growth, too. Eating 30 grams of protein about 60 minutes before bed appears to have a positive effect on muscle quality, metabolism and overall health,” Thole-Summers says.

Choose tart cherries as a topping for their sweetness and their sleep-promoting powers.

“Melatonin, perhaps the most well-known sleep-inducing hormone, regulates sleep-wake cycles. It’s found in many fruits and vegetables including tart cherries and pomegranates, as well as grains, nuts and seeds,” Batayneh says.

Best for Better Sleep:

1 banana + 1 tablespoon nut or seed butter (like Justin’s Classic Almond Butter)

185 calories, 5 g protein

There are many a-peel-ing aspects to this duo.

“Bananas are mostly made up of fast-digesting carbs, and fast digestion is definitely your goal when you’re snacking before bed. They’re also a good source of magnesium, which helps calm stress hormones and can promote sleep,” Batayneh says.

The carbs also trigger a series of events internally that may help you chill out.

“Carbs lead to the release of the hormone insulin, and when insulin is released it helps tryptophan enter the brain and induces sleep,” Thole-Summers says.

Related: Our Complete Banana Health Guide

The butters contain healthy fats that satiate your brain and body, Batayneh continues, just stick to one tablespoon to keep calories in check.

Best for Sweet-and-Salty Fans:

½ cup pomegranate juice (such as Pom Wonderful) + 15 almonds

180 calories, 4 g protein

By now, you’ve probably determined the time after which coffee will keep you buzzing all night long. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, maybe you steer clear of green tea at night as well.

“If you’re looking for an alternative, pomegranate juice is a great fit. Compared to the average cup of green tea, 100 percent pomegranate juice has more antioxidant capacity, plus contains no added sugars, fillers, preservatives or caffeine,” Batayneh says.

Since cinnamon and other warm baking spices may help boost metabolism (“your body uses more energy to process the spice than it does for other foods,” Batayneh says), feel free to make a hot mulled cider of sorts by warming up the pomegranate juice with cinnamon, cloves and citrus slices.

A handful of almonds is a nice salty complement to the sweet sip. Like many of the items on this bedtime snack list, these nuts are sources of tryptophan and magnesium, and also tack on a few grams of bonus protein to your daily tally.

Don’t Miss: This Is How Much Protein You Need to Eat Every Day

Best Netflix Snack:

¼ cup crunchy chickpeas (like this homemade Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas recipe)

120 calories, 6 g protein

“If you naturally crave something crunchy after dinner like chips or crackers, which have little to no nutritional value, I recommend roasted chickpeas. I love the varieties from Saffron Road since they come in fun flavors like Salted Caramel and Korean BBQ,” Batayneh says.

They’re easy to pop as you watch, and one serving boasts 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

“These beans are easily digestible, packed with B vitamins, and can help to fill you up so you don’t wake up starving-which can lead to overeating the next day,” she says.

Best to Prevent Overwhelming Breakfast Hunger:

6 ounces (¾ cup) plain Greek yogurt + ½ cup blueberries

130 calories, 19 g protein

Calling all those who’ve awoken to the internal alarm of “Feed me!”

“Having a healthy, low-calorie snack before bed can help regulate blood sugar levels that, for some, drop through the night and leave you waking up hangry in the morning,” Thole-Summers says.

For a creamy, sweet treat that trumps ice cream or fro-yo on the nutrition front (although we do have plenty of good-for-you DIY versions of the latter), turn to Greek yogurt.

“Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, which your body needs to make melatonin from the amino acid tryptophan. I recommend that my clients choose plain Greek yogurt. It’s rich in protein, particularly casein, which has been shown to reduce hunger the next morning. Blueberries are high in fiber and antioxidants,” Batayneh says.

Those antioxidants soothe your body and brain and lower overall physical stress, allowing you to score more restful sleep.

Best to Fight Muscle Cramps:

¾ cup whole-grain bran cereal + ½ cup milk or nondairy substitute (such as Unsweetened Silk Vanilla Almond Milk)

135 calories, 7 g protein

If you ever have a 3 a.m. war with Mr. Charley Horse or suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, eat a bit of breakfast before bed.

“Calcium (found in dairy, enriched grain products and leafy greens), magnesium (present in nuts and seeds, bananas, avocado and yogurt), and potassium all play various roles in muscle contraction and nerve conduction, so they may help if you suffer from achy legs, cramps or generally have issues feeling relaxed,” Batayneh says.

Try bran for the best supply of potassium-a proven cramp-preventer-compared to other cold cereals.

Bottom Line:

A small snack before bedtime may help you sleep better and wake up the next morning ready to take on your day. And while none of these have magical metabolism powers, they all add a nutrition boost to your day.

*Nutrition information of snacks will vary depending on the brands you use. These numbers are an approximation.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

How a Bedtime Snack Can Help You Lose Weight

If there’s one misguided “rule” about food that my team and I hear from clients again and again (and again), it’s this:

AVOID EATING BEFORE BED.

This food rule is so ingrained it approaches the level of a commandment: Thou shalt not eat after 7pm or 10pm or midnight, lest you gain ten pounds in the night and trolls haunt all of your dreams.

The (awful, terrible, completely false) myth is that a snack before bed puts extra calories in your stomach that sit there and somehow multiply into extra fat on your thighs. I HATE this myth. It is flat-out wrong. Skipping your bedtime snack is what can cause weight gain!

You might already know how I feel about food “rules.” Short version? You have to break the rules that never served you in the first place. (Want to hear how I became a rule breaker, and why it was the best decision EVER? Find out here.)

Not having a bedtime snack is a nonsense rule, and we’re going to break it right now. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but this pre-sleep snack could actually be the key that unlocks your weight loss. Here’s why (and what) you should eat before you start counting sheep:

A bedtime snack stabilizes your blood sugar so you can burn fat while you sleep

When you don’t have a bedtime snack, your blood sugar crashes shortly after you fall asleep. This crash, to put it simply, takes several really important body functions off. Namely, it keeps a hormone called glucagon from working, and glucagon has a very important job when it comes to your weight loss:

Glucagon burns fat. Unfortunately, glucagon can’t do its job while insulin is out doing its job. And if your blood sugar is low, you can bet insulin is trying to get that blood sugar up, which means glucagon is sitting on the sidelines and you’re not burning fat. And that’s when you pack on the pounds.

When you eat the right amounts of the right foods at the right time before sleep (don’t worry, I share suggestions in just two paragraphs!), your blood sugar levels stabilize, which makes it easier to shed pounds. This is like a green light for glucagon to drive in, and burn fat while you sleep.

A bedtime snack sets you up for success the next day

Unstable blood sugar also affects two more hormones related to digestion: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin controls your feeling of hunger, while leptin controls how full you feel.

When you go to bed without a snack, and your blood sugars destabilize in the night, your ghrelin levels get higher. At the same time, your leptin levels get lower. This makes you wake up feeling like you are starving! You’re not actually starving, of course. You just have high ghrelin levels (and so little leptin) that you feel like it. And that’s when you reach for the carbs and the sugar-filled snacks to satisfy this (false) need.

The bedtime snack keeps this ghrelin-leptin seesaw from happening. So, when you wake up the next morning, you are in a better frame of mind and body to make smart food choices. Not only do you get to eat more with the bedtime snack (who doesn’t love a snack before bed!?), you are also likely to make better choices the next day.

So what should you eat? And exactly when?

Your bedtime snack should be made up of two of the three macronutrients: fats and carbs. (Protein can interfere with sleep so we stick with fat and carbs.) Now, when I say “fats and carbs,” I do not mean ice cream or cookies. These heavily processed, refined foods can be hard to digest, perforate your intestines, and cause chronic inflammation. Processed and refined carbs are so full of sugar that when you eat them before bed, your blood sugars will crash at some point in the night—and when they crash, you won’t sleep very well—you might even wake up.

When I talk about the “perfect” bedtime snack, I’m talking a combination of healthy fats (such as butter, avocado, olives, coconut oil, nuts and seeds) and healthy carbs (fruits and vegetables). Fifteen to 30 minutes before you hit the hay, put together a small combination of your favorite healthy fats and carbs. A few tablespoons for the fat and a ½ cup for the carbs is a good amount, such as full-fat yogurt or heavy cream with a ½ cup of berries. Other yummy choices are guacamole and carrots, almond butter and apple slices, mashed avocado and banana pudding, or coconut oil on top of a sweet potato with cinnamon.

A fat-and-carb bedtime snack won’t just break a bad, outdated rule. It will support your metabolism, which means your body can do fat-burning work while you sleep. Win-win.

Sweet dreams!

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EVERYONE is guilty of sneaking off to the fridge to curb a hunger pang right before bed.

And more often than not you find yourself reaching for something quick to stop your tummy from grumbling, like a chocolate bar or a biscuit.

1 Avoid eating crisps and takeaways late at night – instead opt for popcorn or peanut butter on toast

But if you’re trying to lose weight, what you choose as your late-night snack can make a huge difference when it comes to shedding the pounds.

In particular, Helen Bond, Registered Dietitian, has urged slimmers to be conscious of what they put into their bodies, especially before bed.

However, she says a late-night snack can even be a great way of getting some extra nutrients in your diet.

She told The Sun Online: “Snacking can be part of a balanced diet, and can be a great opportunity to sneak some extra nutrients into our diet.

Snacking can be part of a balanced diet, and can be a great opportunity to sneak some extra nutrients into our diet

Helen Bondregistered dietitian

“But it’s important to choose our snack food wisely – even healthy looking snacks, like reduced fat biscuits, cereal bars, yogurt, cereals etc might seem like virtuous choices, but not all are created equally.

“Some are high in cholesterol-raising saturated fat and added or ‘free’ sugars – the type that we should be cutting down on for the sake of our teeth and waistlines.”

The best late night snacks

Here Helen talks us through the best midnight snacks that are also diet-friendly.

She says: “When evening munchies hit, try some of these healthy snacks and eat your snacks slowly instead of mindlessly wolfing them down front of the TV, as you will be more in tune with your satiety ‘fullness’ cues.

• Vegetable sticks with tzatziki made from low-fat yogurt, cucumber, garlic and lemon juice

• Bowl of fresh fruit salad

• Pot of plain low-fat yogurt with fresh berries

• A few oatcakes topped with cottage cheese and tomato

• Slice of wholegrain toast with no added sugar or salt nut butter

• Small handful of unsalted nuts or seeds

• Few rye crispbreads topped with mashed avocado

• A few handfuls of air-popped popcorn dusted with cinnamon

• Few slices of wholegrain baguette topped with homemade salsa made from diced tomatoes and red onion, garlic and coriander

• Celery sticks filled with a few tablespoons of hummus

• Bowl of salad topped with 1 boiled egg”

Snacks to avoid

If you’re trying to blitz body fat, snacking on treats like crisps, chocolate and ice cream before bed is an absolute no-no.

In particular, foods like chocolate usually contain caffeine which may make it more difficult for you to sleep too.

More on diet and weight loss

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Helen says: “It’s best to avoid snack foods that are highly processed or refined.

“As well as being high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt, they’re often low in nutrients and loaded with calories, and very moorish which makes it harder for us to control our weight.

“Examples of foods we should limit include takeaways, crisps, savoury snacks, sugary and chocolate confectionery, cakes, biscuits, pastries, ice cream, and sugary soft drinks.”

Discover how much of your favourite foods you can snack on

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What should I eat at night to lose weight?

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