Health/Fitness » Fitness

Control Late Night Food Cravings

by Kyle Washburn
Health & Fitness Editor
Thursday Aug 30, 2012

We have all been there: either just before bed or after sleeping for a few hours our body is hungry. We get up and open the refrigerator door or kitchen cabinets and stare inside, hoping to find something to satisfy our craving for food.

If we are not prepared, we usually reach for something sugary and sweet as carbohydrates call our name for a quick fix.

However, with a little planning, you can eat something satisfying and yummy that's also good for you.

The key to keep in mind is that your body mainly needs something higher in protein with good fat and almost no carbohydrates. This combination will ease your hunger, allow you to fall asleep or get back to sleep and not wreak havoc on your weight or nutrition plan and goals.

So why not have the ice cream or cookies and cakes?

These types of foods are high in sugar, carbohydrates and fats. The sugars and carbohydrates are designed to give you quick energy, which is not something you want when you are trying to sleep. They are also high in fat which adds to weight gain.

Why not have a piece of pizza or leftovers?

The cheese in particular and any added meats are very high in fats. Again these fats sit in your stomach and are hard to digest. They add to weight gain and may upset your stomach as you try to sleep.

Why not have a bowl of cereal?

Most of us think that cereal is a great option. But cereals are almost completely made from carbohydrates and processed ingredients. Both are designed for energy and spike your blood glucose levels. The protein from milk does not compensate for the glut in carbohydrates.

Some great food ideas include:

Milk is not just something your mother prescribed to help you get back to sleep. It is a slow digesting protein and carbohydrate and is satiating. Be sure to stay away from chocolate or other flavors because of caffeine as well as the added sugars.

Eggs are high in protein and have almost zero fat (if you remove the yolk or have just egg white or egg beaters) and zero carbohydrates.

Plain Non-Fat or Reduced Fat Greek Yogurt
The high protein concentration and low fat, carbohydrate and sugar amounts make for great late night snacks or meals. If the tart flavor is tough to tackle, add a natural sweetener such as stevia or a small amount (less than a handful) of nuts such as walnuts or almonds.

Nuts are high in fat, but good fat. The best options are walnuts or almonds. Aim for no more than a handful and keep them unsalted.

Natural Peanut Butter
Without the added sugars, natural peanut butter is a great high fat, good protein and minimal carbohydrate snack that can satiate you throughout the night.

Protein Shake
Make sure you have a protein shake and not a meal replacement shake. The main difference is the amount of calories, carbohydrates and sugars. Your body will slowly digest the protein overnight to keep you feeling full. It is best to use minimal amounts of water if you are making the shake from a powder so as not to need to use the bathroom. A great option is to use very little water and create a pudding texture, then eat it with a spoon.

Sliced Turkey
The tryptophan will help you sleep. Plus turkey is very low in fat (choose white meat if you can but dark meat is still okay) and full of protein without the carbohydrates. Just ensure that it is not full of sodium or sugar, which many are if they are honey flavored.

By keeping some of these food options in the refrigerator or kitchen cabinets you can help yourself get some restful sleep and not adversely affect your weight.

Kyle Washburn is the National Health and Fitness Editor at Edge Publications, Inc. He earned a BS in Physiology, M.Ed in Sport Psychology and Counseling and an MBA. He is a certified personal trainer through NASM and ACE and has been training for over ten years. He is an avid triathlete, softball and tennis player, runner, hiker and enjoys the outdoors.


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