Maybe you consistently feel a 10:00 p.m. stomach rumbling you can’t ignore, even after eating a huge meal? Or maybe a serious craving for sweets and carbs only kicks in at night?
First of all, you’re not alone, and I know it can be so frustrating to your healthy progress.
If too much late-night snacking (or even bingeing…) is an issue for you, there are a few things you can do to try to break that cycle and stay on track with your healthy habits at night.
4 Tips to Kick Your Late-Night Snacking Habit
1. Eat consistently throughout the day.
Many of us get busy and “forget” to eat. By the time we think about it or even have a chance to breathe, it’s 1:00 p.m. and we haven’t had a thing all day, or at least in many hours. This is no good. Not only are you setting yourself up for failure later in the day, but you could also be doing damage to your metabolism.
Ideally, for most people, you should be eating every three to four hours. This definitely takes some planning for those who are on the move, but if you keep it simple, it’s easy to have a snack before you crash from low blood sugar. Stock up on grab-and-go snacks like trail mix, fruit, nuts, and healthy protein bars to keep your metabolism and energy levels steady throughout the day.
2. Choose complex carbs.
Ever notice how when you eat a ton of carbs your body craves more carbs? That’s not your imagination. Eating simple, quick-burning and/or processed carbs leads to spikes in your blood sugar, prompting the pancreas to make more insulin, which can initiate those cravings. It’s a vicious cycle.
On the other hand, eating complex carbs throughout the day, especially in the first half of the day, can help keep your insulin levels stable so they don’t crash at night, putting you on a path to the pantry. Choose small portions of complex carbs like quinoa, sweet potatoes, or brown rice, paired with protein and healthy fat.
3. Eat plenty of protein in your last meal of the day.
Eating a good amount of protein at every meal is crucial, but taking extra care at dinner can keep you satisfied longer. In other words, it won’t leave you wanting more at all hours. Go for lean protein and veggies with some healthy fats for dinner. Maybe a quick-and-easy salmon and spinach combo?
4. Reconsider evening workouts.
Some people are fine exercising at night, but for others, late-night workouts can mess with your sleep and your metabolism…and can also make you really hungry before bed. Try to get your sweat sessions in earlier in the day if it’s possible. If night time is the only time you can fit in your workout, be extra smart about your post-workout meal. It should include plenty of protein and some slow-burning, complex carbs (like a sausage-sweet potato bake?) so your full and satisfied and no jonesing for cupcakes while counting sheep.
By Hope Pedraza
About Hope: Hope Pedraza is a certified personal trainer through American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a certified Pilates instructor through Body Arts and Science International (BASI), and is Nutritious Life Certified. She’s the founder and creator of inBalance, a fitness and wellness studio located in San Antonio, Texas. She is an active memoir of the fitness community in San Antonio where she sits on the San Antonio Mayor’s Fit Council, works with various high school dance teams and other sports teams on conditioning and flexibility, and leads numerous teacher trainings at her studio each year. Follow her on Instagram at @inbalancesa and on Facebook.