The issue of whether or not it is good to eat before going to bed is a very popular one especially among weight loss enthusiasts. The general argument against eating before going to bed hinges on the fact that the body is less active while you sleep, meaning that calories will not be burnt-off as effectively as when you are awake. The conclusion is that this can then lead to weight gain as a result of the body storing unused calories.
While there is a lot of truth to this argument, nutrition experts are now telling us that what should be the focus is not WHEN we eat as much as WHAT we eat. The other two points that are also raised in conjunction with eating before bed are: the quantity of food eaten and the time lapse between when it is eaten and when we actually lay down to sleep.
In this article, our focus will be just one of the three factors we mentioned above which is the “WHAT” factor. Rather than looking at the entire subject of what we eat, we shall only look at the best foods to eat before bed.
Why is What We Eat before Bed Important?
What we eat at any time is very important to our health. After all, it is common knowledge that we are what we eat. However, what we eat at night before going to bed is important, specifically for certain reasons.
We will break these reasons down into three broad groups so we can have a clearer understanding of what we mean. Let us now look at these three main reasons why what we eat before going to bed is important.
Decreased Metabolic Rate
As we stated earlier, our body’s metabolic activities are much lower at night. This has a direct relationship with eating at this time. Eating foods that are high in caloric content when the body’s metabolism is low increases the risk of weight gain.
Some foods are either difficult to break down or they contain certain substances that can cause discomfort. When these types of food are taken before going to bed, the digestive system is not working at full speed so the food which is already difficult to break down practically sits in the stomach for much longer, causing indigestion.
The continued presence of this food in an undigested form in the body can also cause other issues such as heartburn. All these can cause immense discomfort through the night.
Following the point we made above, indigestion and heartburn can make sleeping difficult or uncomfortable. In addition to this, taking foods that contain stimulants like caffeine can cause total sleeplessness. Diuretics (which caffeine also is) will on the other hand increase the number of times you need to urinate during the night. This will also make it difficult for you to sleep deeply.
Ideal Foods to be Taken before Going to Bed
Given all we have looked at, shouldn’t the best course of action be to simply avoid eating before going to bed? Well, here’s what dietitians think. You’re sure to find it very interesting:
1. Eating the right food at night can help with weight loss. Yeah you read right.
2. It can also help regulate blood sugar levels.
3. With the right food at night, your body will have the energy it needs to perform the important tasks it has to perform even while you sleep.
4. You can sleep much better with a satisfied stomach than a hungry one.
5. Your muscles building efforts can benefit from a good night meal.
You can read about more benefits here.
The points above clearly answer the question and again bring us forcefully back to the issue of what we eat.
Here is a list of some ideal foods to be taken before going to bed:
This is a very healthy food to take before bed. Aside from the fact that real yogurt contains probiotics which are great for gut health (among other things), it also contains tryptophan.
Tryptophan is a very important amino acid. Among its many benefits include the fact that it helps in the production of serotonin and melatonin. These two are essential for keeping the body functioning optimally, especially with regards to sleeping.
Tuna is one of the best sources of vitamin B6. The body needs this vitamin to efficiently metabolize tryptophan which we already know helps in the production of melatonin and serotonin.
Turkey or chicken
We all know that turkey or chicken are both good sources of protein. They both contain the very important tryptophan and they can be very helpful with regulating blood sugar levels as we sleep.
At the risk of getting boring, we must again note that banana contains tryptophan. Aside from this, it contains two nutrients that are great for relaxing the muscles of the body. These are magnesium and potassium.
Almonds are great night time snacks because they contain magnesium which we already know helps relax the muscle. This is great for sleep right? It however gets even better as it also contains niacin which is great for managing anxiety and stress. With anxiety and stress relieved and muscles relaxed, sleep surely becomes truly restful.
All kinds of nut butter are great as night time snacks. They contain proteins and fat that will not just satisfy your cravings but will also nourish your body as you sleep. Just ensure you do not go for the sweetened kind as this may give you a sugar high which can keep you from sleeping.
These are just a few examples of foods and snacks we can take at night and enjoy a good night rest, have our bodies fully nourished and still not add weight. So the next time you want to go to bed without eating even when you are hungry, remember these healthy foods and help yourself to any of them, knowing you will be the better for it.