Guilt-Free Late Night Munchies
Do you get late night cravings and feel guilty for succumbing because whatever you reach for sets you back from your goals or disrupts your sleep? Here are a few ideas for late night snacks that are healthy and won’t keep you up all night.
Before we share this list, you should be aware that as personal trainers committed to helping you achieve your health goals (which include restful sleep), discipline is your best meal choice when you want to snack right before bed. Digestion is hard on the body and disrupts your sleep, plus those calories haven’t a chance to burn off during the next 7-9 hours of inactivity.
Our top recommendation is altogether avoiding the late night snacks right before sleeping and instead drink some water. If your munchie attack hits 2 hours before heading to bed, you can treat yourself to healthy options without de-railing your health efforts.
If you have difficulty falling asleep, try meditation (read our Introduction to Meditation). It may take practice before you can learn to shut off your mind and command your body to sleep, but it can be done! As you can guess from our tagline, Train Your Mind to Train Your Body, we are huge believers in the power of the mind.
This said, we also understand humans have mental and emotional needs, too. It’s ideal to treat food as pure fuel, but generally we have strong emotional responses to food – we need our treats! So when your late night craving calls to you, we’ve come up with a list of the healthiest, most satisfying late night snacks.
Healthiest Late Night Snacks
Most munchies show up as cravings for something sweet or salty.
(We’ll assume here that you’re already on board with totally avoiding all processed foods, like chips, cookies, cakes, deli meats, etc. and are already choosing healthier options on a daily basis.)
Most salty foods are simple carbs, like crackers, which turn into glucose (a sugar) in the bloodstream when ingested. Even fructose, naturally occurring sugar in fruits, will spike insulin levels and jazz up our central nervous system instead of relaxing us into a deep sleep.
With this in mind, some may believe dairy is a good option as a guilt-free late night snack, like a piece of cheese, glass of milk or a couple of spoonfuls of plain, Greek yogurt. Heck, dairy is more protein than sugar, isn’t it? However, dairy is very hard to digest, as we’ve blogged about before in The 2 Most Important Nutrition Tips for Accelerated Results.
So what’s left?! Probably NOT what you’re cravings are calling for BUT if you want to achieve your health goals and want a deep, restful sleep, try some of these ideas next time you wake up with the munchies:
- Protein shake. This is probably our top recommendation as it’s so easy-to-digest (requiring practically no digestive enzymes), the protein is physically satisfying, low in calories and depending on your protein powder, it will have little-to-no sugar.
- Frozen protein shake. This recipe may just satisfy an ice cream craving! If you have the time, make a protein shake and freeze it for an hour before consuming. For an immediate fix, blend 2 cups of ice and add your protein shake, pulse gently to blend. If you’re not heading to bed right away, treat yourself to a tsp of peanut butter in your “ice cream.”
- Protein shake oatmeal. Mix up your protein shake, add it to 1/4 cup of oatmeal and microwave. Sprinkle cinnamon on top before serving. Both the protein in your powder and the cinnamon lower the glycemic index of the carb-rich oatmeal.
- Unsalted, butter-free, plain popcorn. Choose air-popped when you can, serving size of 1/4 – 1/2 cup. If you earned it – meaning that you worked out that day – add a tsp of avocado oil to your popcorn for some flavour. Popcorn is low in calories, has lots of fiber, in most cases satisfies a snack craving, and it’s fairly easy-to-digest (unless you have a sensitivity or allergy).
- Veggie sticks and salsa. Try to choose veggies low on the glycemic index , and use salsa for a little flavour. Homemade salsa is best, of course, and the jalapenos add a spice that creates an internal thermogenesis and increases metabolism.
- Hummus or organic peanut butter. A tablespoon of either of these with your veggies (PB goes well with celery!) is another snack suggestion that falls under the “if you earned it” scenario and if you have 2 hours to digest it.
- Egg-white omelette with chopped veggies. This may not be your usual late night snack fare, but it’s a snack option if you have the 2 hours to digest it. High in protein with detoxifying veggies without the sugar, unless you’re allergic or sensitive to eggs, pair it with salsa.
- One small square of 85% dark chocolate and nuts. Although the nuts lower the glycemic index of the chocolate, there’s still sugar in that delicious nugget of emotionally-satisfying taste sensation! This is another “if you earned it” scenario.
We hope you can find a few things on this list that will satisfy your late night cravings without sacrificing your health goals or interrupting your sleep. If you’d like more of these nutritional tips, keep reading our blog or sign up with your own G Force personal trainer!
Do you have any go-to-late-night-snacks to share with us?