3 Tips to Beat Nighttime Snacking

by Anna D

There’s a common trend that I see in a lot of my clients in terms of eating habits. During my clients’ nutrition strategy sessions, one of the most common challenges they have is night time snacking. There’s no doubt that there’s a few hours after dinner that our body seems to ask for more food. Night time hunger sets in and we’re left to decide whether we would give in or not. In this article, I will talk to you about some of my most effective techniques to beat night time snacking.

Tip #1 Eat Later

When I was talking to one my clients the other day, I found out that she eats dinner at 5 p.m. because she plays tennis at 6 p.m. I told her that 5 p.m. is just way too early to eat dinner especially since she stays up until 11 p.m. In her case, simply adjusting her eating times will definitely help control her hunger or possibly not get hungry at all. Her dinner time should be between 6:30 to 7 p.m. especially if she plans on staying up late.

Tip #2 Close the Kitchen at a Certain Time

Setting a closing time for your kitchen can be a very effective signal to your brain that the kitchen is off limits at night. This idea is similar to a restaurant being closed for business at a particular time. If the restaurant is closed, obviously people can’t order anymore. The closing time in my kitchen is usually 7 p.m. unless I teach an evening bootcamp class. When I do teach, the closing time is about 7:30 to 7:45 p.m. But, I usually don’t eat after 8 p.m. To signal a closing time in your kitchen, clean everything off the counters and the sink and turn off the lights. You may even go as far as making a sign, “kitchen is closed.”

You may have heard this before but eating a couple of hours before bed means that you would not have the chance to digest the food properly as your body’s metabolism slows down to prepare you for sleep. To maximize your fat burning potential, you want your insulin level to go down so you can burn fat. When you have food in your stomach, insulin goes up and your body gets into fat storing mode. This is definitely what you don’t want to happen during sleep. For me, just knowing this simple fact helps me fight any temptation I could be having.

Tip #3 Sleep Early

My client is definitely a night owl and I totally get that. Some people are more inclined to be more awake and productive at night while some are more productive in the morning and can’t think straight after a certain time at night. This is due to a difference in our brain chemistry which is not a sign of laziness or productiveness. For those who have been sleeping late but can normally sleep early, going to bed before the hunger sets in definitely helps.

If you are a night owl and you absolutely must have something, here is a list of the best night time foods you can have without breaking the calorie bank but still feeling full:

  • Drink chamomile tea. I find that chamomile helps calm my stomach and helps put me to sleep. It’s not so much that it keeps me full, it stops any hunger I may be feeling before I drink it.
  • Add some fiber into your tea. I use a vegan based fiber powder that mixes clear into my tea if I need that extra feeling of fullness.
  • If you feel that you have to have something more solid than tea, try a few pieces of high fiber, raw vegetables like celery or brocolli with a few pieces of nuts to help curb hunger. A few pieces means 2 or 3 pieces πŸ™‚
  • Drink water. Most of us don’t think of dehydration when we get “hunger” signals. Simply drinkig a full glass of water or more may be the fix you need to what you think is hunger.

To most of us, night time hunger can make or break our weight loss efforts. If you eat an extra 200-300 calories at night, that can add up to 1400 to 2100 calories a week! If you’re just starting your fitness journey, this can be one area you can focus on during the week. Even eating 1400 calories less than you normally do can make a huge difference on how your clothes fit or how you feel. You can also think about it this way, having a deficit of 1400 calories a week is like doing cardio 2 days in a row without having to do any physical work πŸ™‚

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