The Truth about Midnight Snacking

Posted: July 19, 2012 by jerkmag in CRISP -- health
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s 12am. You have an essay due at the start of an 8am class…today, and if you are anything like me, you will turn to food right now. Lots of food.

I often wonder as I am shove handfuls of “healthy” granola down my throat, if I am just asking to gain some jean sizes. Isn’t snacking supposed to be good for your metabolism? Does this change at night?

Articles such as, “Midnight Snack Won’t Pack Fat” suggest that our bodies can’t tell time, so don’t worry about late night munchies as long as they are healthy. However, this conclusion was made based on a study that used monkeys as the test subjects.

When it comes to fifty two human samples however, results showed in an Obesity journal study that eating late can lead to weight gain. Those who ate after 8pm gained more weight than those who stopped eating earlier. The cause is still uncertain, but it could be connected to the fact that the late-eating human guinea-pigs got less sleep and thus had slower metabolisms.

Eating certain foods late at night interferes heavily with your sleeping pattern. Like fuel in a car, sleep powers our fat-burning metabolisms. So if you want to get more of this fat-burning tool, avoid these foods according to Dr. Oz to get a good night’s rest:

The Sugary and Spicy: Yes, the good stuff. Obviously cakes and cookies (even Insomnia cookies, but I’ll admit they may be worth the extra pounds). Even my granola cereal contains so much sugar that it will cause a spike in energy that disrupts my sleep. Spicy foods can help you burn calories during the day, but stimulate your senses at night, making it much harder to sleep.

Meat: Red meat is the worst, but all animal-originating proteins tend to sit in your stomach and be tough for your body to digest.

Citrus Fruits: Oranges and lemons can be great tools for losing weight during the day, but at night they can lead to indigestion and more trouble sleeping.

Dr. Oz recommends not eating anything two hours before you plan on going to sleep to eliminate any chance of gaining weight. However, if you are like me and often just need something to nibble to get you through your work, you are not completely doomed.  Here are some healthy snacks that shouldn’t completely sabotage your diet if you keep them under 200 calories, according to Dr. Oz.

  • 1 Cup of Greek Yogurt with Blueberries
  • Sliced carrots with humus
  • A bowl of oatmeal with low-fat milk
  • 1 Banana with low fat peanut butter (The potassium and magnesium in the banana will relax your muscles after a long day)
  • An apple with almond butter

The bottom line is that it’s best not to eat late at night, especially if you’re going to be laying down shortly after. But, nobody is perfect. (especially when on a diet) So don’t fret if you really must indulge in that 1am snack to get your work done. If you are working that hard, you probably deserve it anyway.

-Shannon Hazlitt

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