One of the toughest times to manage the urge to snack is late in the evening — before bed, but long after your dinner has settled.
If you’re among those who have heard or been told that eating late at night will destroy any weight loss you’re aiming for, some good news — a light late-night snack won’t completely derail your dreams.
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“What matters most is the amount of calories you eat for the day and how many calories you burned at the end of the day to create a balance or a deficit,” said Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, a registered dietician and founder of Hispanic Food Communications. She’s also a scientific advisory board member to the Grain Foods Foundation.
“For example, if you consume about 2,000 calories per day — which is not a lot of food — you will need to decrease 500 calories to lose weight safely. So you will need to consume only 1,500 calories or try to burn some of the extra calories with exercise,” she told LifeZette.
Melendez-Klinger recommends keeping any evening snacks to between 100 and 200 calories. Portions and serving sizes are more important than deprivation. Also, try to avoid heavily caffeinated beverages and snacks that are high in calories before bedtime.
Some great snacks that might curb your cravings and satisfy the grumbling in your stomach:
1.) Crackers and hummus. Stick to just a couple tablespoons of hummus and you’ll be good. The snack is a great source of protein and fiber.
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2.) A cup of yogurt with berries. This great snack is low in calories and high in nutrients. It’s always a great option, but watch the sugar in the yogurt.
3.) A glass of milk and a little cookie. You can “never go wrong” here, said Melendez-Klinger.
4.) Air-popped popcorn. Skip the butter and instead add some parmesan cheese.
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5.) Apple with peanut butter. High in fiber and protein, this will leave you feeling satisfied but not overly full — and it will get you through the night.
6.) Fruit smoothie. A small glass of plain kefir mixed with fresh or frozen blueberries or strawberries is filling and satisfies a sweet tooth.
7.) Whole grain cereal. Quite a few cereals contain a lot of sugar — so be careful what you choose here. But whole grain cereals can be rich in fiber and low in calories, making for a great late-night snack.
8.) Applesauce. A cup of this will give you a healthy dose of fiber and promote good digestive health.
You may want to fast, said Melendez-Klinger, if you’re experiencing gas, bloating or any intestinal problems — or if you need any medical procedures or blood work.
“However, we don’t recommend fasting for long periods of time just to try to lose weight rapidly. It can be counterproductive. You are basically dehydrating your body and depriving your body of daily essential nutrients, and you will be devouring anything in front of you by the time you start eating again,” she said.
A few hours of fasting with plenty of water can help you get your digestive system back on track, if needed; but a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber and water along with exercise can keep your weight under control.
Something else to keep in mind, she added, is that the body needs time to digest the last meal of the day. It’s recommended that if you eat a larger meal at night, give yourself at least two to three hours before bedtime. Walking after dinner or doing some other activity will help you digest your food better.