Bedtime Snack

This could be you!

This could be you!

Good morning, friends! It’s Brooke, here. I know a bedtime snack is probably the last thing you’re thinking of right now, but sooner or later, the idea of a little nighttime nibble will cross your mind. And when it does, will you be prepared? A bedtime snack need not completely dismantle your whole day’s progress up to this point. In fact, you can harness the power of food for good and not evil—just choose wisely! Here are some tips to avoiding a complete meltdown in front of your open fridge.

fridge

 

1. Keep your snack light (under 200 calories): As you prepare for sleep, the last thing you need is something heavy sitting in your stomach. You want a snack that is small and easily digestible, that will usher you into dreamland. A cup of warm, fragrant herbal tea is a low-calorie way to help you relax and take the edge off of a late-night craving. If you’re like me, however, you may want something a bit more substantial to nibble on.

2. Include a complex carbohydrate and a low-fat protein: You’ve always heard that a cup of warm milk before bed helps you sleep, right? Turns out, it’s true! Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid notoriously associated with turkey dinners and post-dinner naps. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that figures largely in the body’s ability to relax, regulate mood, and maintain a sleep cycle. All animal proteins contain varying amounts of tryptophan (turkey, chicken, seafood, eggs, animal milk, cheese, and yogurt), as do nuts, seeds, and legumes. Complex carbs, such as whole-grain bread or oats, help your body digest tryptophan more effectively. So, when you are choosing your snack, think complex carb (or maybe a simple carb, such as fruit) + low-fat protein. Some great snacks include:

  • Whole-grain cereal with milk
  • 1 c. yogurt topped with granola, berries, and/or fruit
  • Almond butter sandwich
  • Small apple or whole grain crackers with almond butter
  • 1 graham cracker sheet with milk
  • Small bunch of grapes with 1 oz. cheese
  • Handful of pistachios or pumpkin seeds with ¼ cantaloupe

weights

3. Eat a more substantial snack if you are building lean muscle: The nighttime snack is almost a given if you are on a muscle-building mission. As you know, if you are trying to sculpt sexy muscle, eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day is essential, and this snack may be part of your plan. The time between dinner and breakfast is a long time to go without nutrition, so this snack is an excellent way to promote anabolism, or the building of muscle tissue, while you sleep. Bodybuilders need to add more protein to their snack than the amount shown in the examples above. Lean protein like eggs, yogurt, milk, and protein powder are great additions. Research has shown that casein protein is even more effective than whey protein in providing slow-digesting nutrition as you sleep. Casein protein can be found in animal milk, cottage cheese, or in powder form. Here are several good options for you if you are interested in building lean muscle:

  • 1 cup cottage cheese with 2 sliced strawberries
  • Protein shake with milk
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies
  • Oatmeal with protein powder added

4. Avoid snacks that are spicy, sugary, and caffeinated: This advice seems pretty obvious, but we’ll run through it anyway. Hot and spicy foods can contribute to heartburn and reflux, which does not make for peaceful rest. If your bedtime snack is high in sugar, your blood sugar levels will be affected, which will also make catching those ZZZs a challenge. And if your snack of choice is hot tea, be sure it’s herbal (such as peppermint or chamomile) and not just decaffeinated black tea—there’s always a bit of caffeine lingering in those leaves, even those marked decaf.

Happiness!! (or My Favorite Yogurt Snack)

Here’s my favorite way to fix yogurt—this makes an excellent pre-workout snack, provided I’ve eaten enough complex carbs throughout the day, but as a bedtime snack, it’s wonderful! It always makes me feel full, relaxed, and happy.

  • 1 c. low-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese
  • Small mix of berries (sliced strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
  • About 10 raw almonds or 5-7 walnut halves
  • 1 packet Truvia (stevia) for sweetness

Mix everything together in a bowl, and enjoy.

Yum!

Yum!

Friends, have a wonderful week, and happy (healthy) bedtime snacking!

Brooke

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