It’s one of those bad habits that you are sure will never really hurt you, but late night snacks can cause some damage in the long term. Sure, a little bite to eat here and there doesn’t seem harmful, and likely that’s not the problem. Sometimes you can’t help but to eat late because you don’t have time to eat earlier and you don’t want to go to bed hungry.
Most of the time though you do want to allow some time to digest before you go to bed. So, understanding what makes these late night eating sessions problematic can help you to understand, and to ensure that you don’t engage in this habit anymore.
The most notable thing to recognize about late night snacks is that the timing of them is the issue. You are eating right before bed in most instances, and that simply doesn’t leave enough time for proper digestion. Add to that the fact that the food just sits in your stomach and you can easily see the implications. This can turn to fat and therefore cause you to feel bloated the next day and beyond. So, a snack later in the day here and there isn’t a problem so much, but when this is your usual habit and you can’t stop doing it then you need to take a step back.
There Are a Number of Reasons This Eating Can Work Against You
You also need to consider your activity level or lack thereof later in the evening. This factors into yet another reason why late night snacks can be a problem in terms of weight gain. When you eat food that late you are likely not exercising or even having general activities that can help you to burn off calories. So not only is the food just sitting there and digestion is made more difficult, but you are not burning any calories in the process. So between lack of digestion and no activity, these late night snacks can really sneak up on you.
One last thing to note about the problems with late night snacks and your ability to lose weight is what you are eating. More than likely you are hungry and therefore eating more than you should in terms of portion. Many people also eat the wrong foods which can be full of fat and calories, and this all equates to weight gain. An occasional snack later in the evening may not hurt you, but if you make this a habit then you will see that it can be problematic. You will have a difficult time losing weight and may actually pack on the pounds, so try not to eat later like this if you can help it.
When Are Late Night Snacks Beneficial?
It’s true that you should focus on avoiding overeating. In many cases, late night snacking isn’t because you’re genuinely hungry and need food. It’s because you’ve built a habit of eating at this time and so your sensation of hunger automatically kicks in not because your body needs food but because it is simply used to having a small meal at that hour.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s better to go to bed starving than it is to continue with late night snacks. Research shows that going to bed hungry is damaging to sleep. Since sleep is absolutely critical to being able to lose weight effectively – and achieve better overall health for that matter – the last thing you want to do is sacrifice your zz’s unnecessarily.
What to Eat at Bedtime?
Instead, make sure that if you are late night snacking, you’re doing so in an appropriate way. This means that if you need to overcome that hunger before bed, you should choose your foods strategically. Bedtime foods all have certain factors in common – they’re light, they won’t energize you and they are hydrating. Some great options will even encourage restfulness.
This helps to explain why cucumber and celery are both ideal foods to eat before you head to bed. These late night snacks are low in calories, high in water content and even contain natural substances that can help you to feel calmer and more prepared to be restful to sleep at night. Since these foods are also high in fiber, it means that they will fill the void and will help you to avoid feeling hungry again for a while. Fiber slowly makes its way through the stomach, providing bulk without being digestible.
Even better, these foods can help you to avoid becoming bloated, which can be a risk of late night snacks that contain sugar, salt, unhealthy fats and low fiber levels. Therefore, not only does this help you to sleep better and support weight loss, but it also supports your efforts to avoid looking heavier than you are due to water weight.