The bedtime snack that boosts your metabolism

Eating before bed is a bad idea… or so we’ve been told.

It makes you gain weight and interferes with your circadian rhythm.

But let’s face it… we all have those nights where bedtime’s closing in and we’re starving. So, is it ever okay to sneak in a snack before bedtime? And if so, what should you eat?

Well, even though before bed snacking has gotten a bad rap, not all bedtime snacks are bad for you.

One, in particular, may do the opposite of what you’ve been told — it may boost your metabolism and improve your health.

Cottage cheese is the best before-bed food

If you’re hungry right before you hit the hay, you should eat cottage cheese.

Researchers from Florida State University say that eating this protein-packed snack before bed has some major benefits.

Read: Cottage cheese: 3 big benefits of this old-school superfood

They found that eating a bit of cottage cheese 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime increases metabolic rate and improves muscle recovery (how well your muscles bounce back after workouts). And it did all this without increasing body fat.

So, does this mean that bedtime snacks are safe again?

Yep. If you choose the right one.

Cottage cheese fits the bill because of its high protein content. But if you’re not a cottage cheese fan, don’t worry. Other high-protein snacks could do the trick too…

Healthy options that ease a late-night snack attack

So, you’re searching for a bedtime snack and you’re out of cottage cheese, or you just don’t like it to begin with, here’s what you want to look for instead…

A whole food snack (nothing processed) that contains 30 grams of protein. Previous research also suggests that it’s best to combine protein and complex carbs (like the kind found in fruit and whole grains) for a bedtime snack that keeps blood sugar balanced all night long.

Here are some protein-carb snack combos to keep on hand, so you’re prepared next time your stomach starts grumbling right before bed:

  • Peanut butter and apple
  • Pear and cheese
  • Greek yogurt and berries
  • Hardboiled egg and avocado
  • Popcorn seasoned with brewer’s yeast
  • Hummus and grape tomatoes
  • Banana and sunflower seeds
  • Whole-grain bread with almond butter

I do have one warning before you reinstate bedtime snacking, though. If you have acid reflux, before bed snacks could still be an issue even if you choose a healthy option like cottage cheese. Eating too close to bedtime is a well-known trigger for acid reflux attacks. So, if you’re an acid reflux sufferer, eat your last snack at least three hours before you head to bed.

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Sources:

  1. Late night snacker? Make it cottage cheese — MedicalXpress
  2. Pre-sleep protein in casein supplement or whole-food form has no impact on resting energy expenditure or hunger in women — British Journal of Nutrition
  3. Low-fat vs. high-fat bedtime snacks in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes — Pediatric Diabetes
  4. Are bedtime nutritional strategies effective in preventing nocturnal hypoglycaemia in patients with type 1 diabetes? — Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism
  5. 20 Healthy Late-Night Snacks That Won’t Wreck Your Diet — Women’s Health
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.