We’ve all been there – it’s late at night, and the craving for a snack hits hard. Whether you’re catching up on your favourite TV show or studying late, it’s tempting to reach for those chips or a chocolate bar. But making unhealthy snack choices too often can lead to weight gain and make you resistant to insulin over time. Research suggests that people who regularly indulge in late-night snacking might burn calories more slowly and show signs of increased fat storage, which isn’t the best news for your waistline.
The Late-Night Snacking Dilemma
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that nighttime snackers tend to consume about 12% more calories than those who stick to daytime eating. Research published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that late-night snackers are more likely to engage in binge-eating behaviours, than who didn’t eat after dinner. So, it’s clear that late-night munching can have a negative impact on your calorie intake.
Will Late-Night Snacking Pile on the Pounds?
Eating sugary foods late at night can cause your blood sugar levels to spike just before bedtime. Your body tends to store excess sugar as fat, and when you eat late, this process can go into overdrive, primarily because your body uses less energy when you’re at rest compared to when you’re active. But what is the solution to the constant struggle of not being able to find healthy alternatives?
Read on to find out healthier alternatives to satisfy your late-night cravings.
Healthier Alternatives to Fast Food and Sugary Foods
Late-night cravings can be challenging to resist, but indulging in unhealthy snacks too often can lead to various issues. Instead of reaching for those chips or candy bars, consider these tasty and satisfying alternatives that not only curb your cravings but also promote overall well-being.
1. A handful of Almonds
Indulge in a handful of almonds for a snack that combines many nutrients. Almonds are rich in protein and good-quality fats and can keep you satiated for long. Almonds also help regulate blood sugar levels. For someone looking to reduce weight, roast almonds and lightly salt and add pepper and olive oil, and you have a savoury snack option perfect for a movie night at home.
2. Greek Cucumber Salad
Whip up a hydrating and refreshing salad by combining cucumbers, tomatoes, black olives, red onions, and feta cheese. A drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, and some fresh herbs like parsley or dill can give it that extra zing.
3. Apples with Almond Butter
Pairing apple slices with almond butter offers a perfect blend of sweet and salty, along with a protein and fibre combo that keeps you full. Add a dash of cinnamon, bake it for a dessert-like twist.
4. Cucumber Slices with Hummus
Experience the refreshing blend of cucumber’s hydrating and alkaline properties with the creamy richness of hummus. Cucumbers, dipped in a hummus mixture made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and garlic, offers a satisfying snack rich in plant-based protein, fibre, and minerals.
5. A Piece of Fruit
Grab a piece of fruit like a banana, apple, pear, grape, kiwi, or orange. Fruits provide fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. For extra satiety, pair them with almonds or yoghurt, adding a dose of protein and healthy fats.
6. Chia Pudding with Almond Milk
Harness the nutritional power of chia seeds by making a chia pudding with almond milk, vanilla essence, and your favourite fruits. These tiny seeds are loaded with fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant-based protein, making for a wholesome and satisfying snack. Almond milk adds creaminess and more nutty goodness.
Healthy Eating: A Commitment
In an ideal world, sticking to regular meal times and going to bed by 10 pm would be a breeze. When we eat at consistent times, it helps keep those pesky midnight cravings in check. Plus, when our meals include a mix of protein, fibre, and healthy fats, we tend to stay full longer, making late-night snacking less tempting. Staying hydrated is a big deal, too – sometimes, our bodies confuse thirst for hunger. And let’s not forget about mindful eating; it’s all about tuning in to our body’s hunger cues and recognising emotional triggers that can lead to late-night snacking.
Hacks to Reduce Midnight Cravings
Now, let’s talk about some practical tips to conquer those late-night snack attacks. Instead of reaching for junk food, try healthier options like veggies, fruits, or a small serving of protein if you’re truly hungry. Limiting screen time before bedtime and establishing a calming bedtime routine can also help you dodge those midnight cravings. And here’s a pro tip: if those tempting snacks are out of arm’s reach, you’re more likely to make better choices when late-night hunger strikes.
Healthy options like almonds, chia seed pudding and vegetable sticks is a smart way to beat untimely hunger pangs, rather than reaching for fried snacks, sugary treats or greasy takeaways. However, if it is a regular occurrence and struggles persist, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals or qualified dietitians can provide personalised solutions.