The Mechanics of Night Time Eating
I remember a while ago, I used to consistently hear the advice, "You should NEVER eat after 10pm or it'll make you gain weight." Unfortunately, that only encouraged me to either sneak a snack at night, or go to bed with my stomach grumbling during my childhood. Neither option was all that healthy, so I decided to do a deep dive when it comes to nighttime nutrition. Contrary to public opinion, our bodies do not have a 'switch' at night where all the consumption turns to fat or excess triglyceride storage. If there are calories that we have not used in that day, it is perfectly acceptable to eat at a later time. HOWEVER, the composition and integrity of the specific foods we choose is not so black and white.
The big focus in choosing a night time snack is pairing a fiber-rich carbohydrate with a protein source. This will allow our glycogen to be restored and support the building and repair of muscle throughout the night. If you are someone who works out in the morning (and may be adverse to a breakfast that early), a quality snack at night will optimize your performance.
Amount is also imperative when it comes to our snack. Certain foods will satiate us and keep us full longer, reducing our quantity. For instance, pairing dark chocolate with almonds/raspberries, a hard boiled egg with a piece of fruit, chia seed pudding or yogurt, or a banana w/ almond butter are all healthy yet satiating choices.
Certain nutrients and minerals can aid in our quality and duration of sleep if we choose to have it before bed. This may include foods with melatonin (cherries, eggs, fish, nuts and berries), magnesium (almonds pumpkin seeds, cashews, peanut butter,) and tryptophan (peanuts, chicken, and dairy)