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When the clock keeps ticking and you keep tossing and turning, the next thing is quite predictable – Grabbing a bowl of snacks and munching. Most people find themselves in the kitchen peeping inside the fridge, looking for something. This habit of eating before bed isn't a new one. After all, who doesn't like pleasuring themselves with mouth-watering snacks?
Although, there are a lot of misconceptions about eating right before bed. Many people assume that it is not suitable for your health, while others believe it can help you reduce weight.
In this article, we will find out if it is harmful to eat before bed, the effects of eating before bed, what you should eat before going to bed (+ what you should NOT), and what is the best time to eat at night.
To be straightforward, no. Going to bed hungry isn't a big deal. However, not eating up to the requirement could lead you to eat more the next day. This can make you obese easily. How? You get cravings when you do not eat up to your full potential. This craving goes on increasing and makes you eat more the next day.
According to a study, eating 4 hours before sleeping makes you consume more calories than usual. So now you know that if you skip your dinner, you might eat more calories the next day. This explains why all of a sudden, we crave certain foods like pizza, fries, hamburgers, etc.
Some say, eat your breakfast like a king, lunch like a lord, and dinner like a pauper. Is it true? Let's see what the benefits of eating before bed are.
Did you know that your body burns calories even when you are sleeping? Sounds interesting, right? Your body needs the energy to function correctly while recovering from the previous day. And when you decide to sleep on an empty stomach, your body doesn't get the required fats it needs to burn. This makes your body hold on to fats instead of using them.
Eating protein before bed in the form of healthy snacks might be helpful for you as it will give the body the energy it needs to burn the fats, thereby promoting weight loss. So the trick here is to eat healthily and avoid eating too much before bed.
A happy gut leads to a happy mind. It's a proven fact that when you are full, you function properly. So if you have a habit of munching before sleeping, it might help you get a good night's sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid that induces sleep allowing the body to rest properly. Also, you can be smart about your food choices and consume foods like milk, eggs, cheese, fish & nuts.
Eating on time helps the body in regulating blood sugar levels. Eating fruits, oatmeals, nuts, and whole wheat items, help the body produce higher energy levels. When you have high energy levels, you wake up fresh and active in the morning.
Eating before sleeping can help reduce cravings. It's mostly at night that people often feel like grabbing a snack. If eaten right, the midnight cravings can be subdued easily. For this, you should know what to eat before bed. Healthy snacks like apples, peaches, or peanut butter give excellent nutrients to the body.
Eating healthy balances the body with the required vitamins & nutrients, thereby reducing the cravings for junk food. Therefore, the best advice would be to consume something healthy, like eating an apple before bed. It will leave you satisfied and energetic in the morning.
Now that we have discussed the benefits of eating before bed, you should also know that it has some downsides. Below are some of the ways eating before bed can affect your body negatively.
If you are wondering, "Does eating before bed make you gain weight?" following this habit of eating like a king before bed can lead to obesity, heart issues, slower metabolism, and can cause you to develop poor sleeping habits. Hence you should know how to stop eating before bed or keep a minimum of 3 hours gap between meals and bedtime.
Eating right before sleeping can be the cause of poor sleep. The food needs to be digested before sleeping. If you consume foods like caffeine, it might leave you all pumped up with energy, thus making it harder for you to fall asleep. Make sure you avoid foods high in caffeine; especially, avoid eating chocolate before bed, as it is high in caffeine.
Although lying down after eating might not be ideal. You need to know that eating right before sleeping might cause indigestion issues. Many people have a habit of walking after dinner and then sleeping. Scientifically speaking, the food needs to settle in the stomach, so the esophagus needs to be precise.
When you jump straight to bed right after eating, the body lies horizontally. This results in acid reflux as it becomes easier for the acid to enter the esophagus.
Where else, eating large and heavy meals can cause an upset stomach or create stomach cramps. Hence, make sure you digest your food 2 hours before sleeping.
Although the body functions just the same as when it's awake, the body's metabolism might slow down if you consume carbs as carbs take longer to digest. So you should avoid these too before sleeping. On the other hand, a warm glass of water or milk could be perfect for a good night's sleep.
Eating before going to bed can lead to bad habits, and if the mind is constantly stressed, things might get out of hand. In addition, consciously eating before bed can lead to eating unknowingly.
According to research, a sleep disorder known as a nocturnal sleep eating disorder is similar to sleepwalking. In this, people, instead of walking, prepare and consume a meal while asleep and have no memory of their actions in the morning.
If you still feel hungry after having dinner, instead of grabbing a bag of chips or fried bacon, you could switch to picking healthier options. Sweets, spicy, and junk foods are high in calories and elevate cravings. So, it's not good to fill up on conventional desserts or junk foods like eating ice cream before bed, pie, or chips, as these are heavy in harmful fats and added sugars.
Eating before bed does not inherently cause weight gain, but eating certain calorie-dense items before bed does, and it's best to minimize them. And these unhealthy snacks also make it very easy to consume more calories than you need.
If you're craving something at night, try the following:
Berries are one of the healthiest foods you can consume. They're delicious, nutritious, and have a slew of health benefits. Berries are high in antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients that help control your blood sugar and cholesterol while keeping your heart healthy.
A few squares of dark chocolates can immensely benefit your mood and body. Dark chocolates are rich in antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals. However, you should avoid it if you find it difficult to sleep after consuming caffeine.
If you are craving something salty, go for a handful of nuts. Eating nuts regularly may benefit your health in various ways, including lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Despite its high-calorie count, this nutritious high-fiber dessert may aid weight loss.
A bowl of unsweetened cereal (e.g., bran flakes, rice puffs) or muesli high in complex carbohydrates, combined with milk, creates a delicious bedtime snack. As a bonus, the pair in this combination helps your body produce melatonin, which leads to a more restful night.
Boiled veggies are another healthy eating choice. You can consume a bowl full of cooked vegetables to prevent acidity because they take less stomach acid to digest food and are also swiftly eliminated from the stomach. As a result, the amount of time these vegetables spend in your stomach minimizes your risk of acidity.
You can also consider eating fruits before bed like bananas and other protein-rich foods like peanut butter before bed.
Now, suppose you're wondering what NOT to eat before bed. In that case, you should limit your intake of stimulants, difficult-to-digest foods, dishes with excessive sugar or spice, and acidic items that exacerbate heartburn. Below are some other types of food to cut down on.
It may appear like a few beers, glasses of wine or a nightcap will help you fall asleep. However, there are three compelling reasons to avoid drinking alcohol, particularly in excess, before bed.
One, alcohol disrupts your regular sleep pattern later in the night. This may reduce the amount of restorative REM sleep you receive.
Two, it relaxes all of the muscles in the body, exacerbating obstructive sleep apnea and loud snoring.
Three, the esophageal sphincter is another muscle that is impacted by alcohol. When it relaxes, it causes acid reflux.
Getting up to use the restroom might seriously disrupt your sleep. Of course, drinking enough water is crucial for being healthy, but you don't want to wake up in the night with a full bladder. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid foods with high water content, even if they are healthy. Celery, watermelon, and cucumbers are examples.
Meals that appear to be heavy on your stomach actually take longer to digest. Foods that are
fatty, cheesy, or fried can cause indigestion and keep you up at night. Late in the day, avoid cheeseburgers, fries, fried dishes, and huge steaks.
The best time to eat dinner would be around 7 pm. This gives a lot of time for the stomach to digest the food and aligns appropriately with the cardiac rhythm of the body. Keep in mind that the longer duration between meals and bedtime, the better. Why? This allows the body to focus on resting rather than digesting. And this is the reason why eating late at night can make it hard for you to fall asleep.
Are you still confused about your eating habits? Knowing when to stop eating before bed is the key here. Ideally, you should not eat at least 3 hours before bed. This allows the stomach to digest the food and properly pass it to the intestine. What you should follow is to eat in small quantities. Small quantities would help with the hunger cravings and give your body the required amount of vitamins and nutrients.
So now you know why eating before bed is bad, what should be your ideal dinner time and what are the effects of eating before bed. If you are hungry even after dinner, then you could eat foods that are easy to digest. The takeaway is to avoid large and heavy meals and switch to healthier food options.