Eating before bed is such a controversial issue in the health and fitness industry.
Some people say in order to lose weight, you have to stop eating by a certain time while others claim that in order to effectively lose fat you have to eat before bed.
Oh, don't you just love weight loss controversy?
What I will share today is my firsthand experience with my tried-and-true results and the methods that have worked for myself and other community members.
I am not claiming that one method is right and another method is wrong. What I hope to do is give you some viable options to use on yourself and see what your body responds to best.
The reason for the above "disclaimer" is that every person is different, and learning what works best for YOU is something that will help you maintain a lean, toned body and healthy habits long term.
Now, back to the matter at hand: to eat or NOT to eat before bed, that is the question...
My "rule" for night time eating has always been to encourage members to stop eating 2-3 hours before bed.
This rule would always accomplish 2 things:
- People would just naturally eat less. Why? Because most people do a good amount of eating after dinner while just "hanging out," not because they are hungry, but in most cases because they are bored. Giving people a cutoff time eliminates a lot of mindless snacking.
- People would be more inclined to eat a wholesome, well-rounded dinner that included a healthy amount of protein and good fats to make sure they were not hungry later on. Knowing they were not going to be able to just "grab something" (i.e. snacking) after dinner, made them eat more protein and fat at dinner that would keep them satisfied longer.
It was always my own personal rule to stop eating after dinner. My husband and I always ate dinner by 6:30pm, and I was usually in bed by 9:30pm, so this always worked well for me until the kids arrived and we had to make a few adjustments. Now, we have to eat dinner by 5:30pm in order to do baths, book time and then bed time by 8pm.
The first few nights we started the early eating schedule I noticed I was going to bed hungry... and nobody likes hungry Isabel. I absolutely can't sleep if I'm hungry, so I started having a little something around 8pm after the kids went to sleep.
If you find yourself in a similar situation - a little hungry before bed - here are some food guidelines for snacking close to bedtime:
- If you are going to eat close to bedtime, do not - and let me repeat - DO NOT have a carbohydrate-rich snack. When you ingest carbohydrates, your body releases insulin to control your blood sugar. Insulin is a fat STORING hormone and not something you want abundantly flowing through your system before bed.
- Eat protein with a little bit of fat before bed. Protein and fat keep you satisfied longer and will not release a huge amount of insulin in your body. As a matter of fact, it will release the opposing hormone, glucagon, which is a fat BURNING hormone.
Some examples of good protein and fat snacks ("little somethings") before bed are:
- 1 slice turkey + 1/4 avocado
- 1 piece of leftover chicken from dinner
- 1-2 hard-boiled eggs
- Isabel's Yummy Protein & Chia Seed Pudding: 1 scoop protein powder (chocolate or vanilla), 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 4 tablespoons water or coconut milk
So, I have some homework for you. Starting tonight, try to eat a wholesome dinner 2-3 before bed and continue to monitor how you feel. But, if your schedule is more like mine and your stomach begins to rumble before bed, don't plate a full meal of carbs. Have a small snack-sized serving of fat or protein so you'll stay full the rest of the night.