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Marek Struszczyk

Co-Founder ManagerUp


Ideally, you would get out of the office every day by 6 p.m., eat an early dinner, and avoid evening snacking. In reality, you are more likely to be stuck at the office until well after dark working on a presentation due bright and early the next morning.

It leaves you scrambling for a snack that you can eat at your desk or when you finally make it home.

While a large meal or grabbing something from the nearest fast-food restaurant or vending machine will leave you falling asleep in front of your computer or feeling sluggish and mentally foggy the next morning, healthy foods can help you power through your work without leaving you with a “food hangover” the next morning.

The following are our favorite healthy foods to eat at night that are guaranteed to keep your stomach from grumbling while still leaving you feeling refreshed and energetic the next day.

When looking for healthy foods to eat at night that will help you focus, increase your productivity, and provide the energy that you will need to power through your overtime hours as well the next morning, keep these tips in mind:

 

Executive Summary:

healthy foods to eat at night

1. Choosing Healthy Nighttime Snacks Over Processed Foods

When you are physically and mentally exhausted after a 12 to 14-hour day at the office, it is tempting to turn to comfort foods, such as chips, a greasy burger, and fries, or even an entire package of cookies. Unfortunately, the saturated fat and high sugar content of these foods can cause you to experience less deep sleep during the night along with more frequent sleep arousals, which can leave you feeling tired and sluggish the next morning. The increased blood sugar may also contribute to an increase in cortisol in your system, which can impair cognition and memory. That is the last thing that you need when faced with a morning full of meetings with clients.

• Healthy Snack Tip

Instead of chips or fries, opt for hummus and a handful of whole-wheat pita chips for a healthy nighttime snack. The protein and healthy fats in the hummus will help you feel full and provide energy while the pita chips will provide a satisfying crunch.

 

2. Keeping Portion Sizes In Check

Your body still requires calories for energy even during sleep. Your digestive system and metabolism, however, slow down at night as part of your natural circadian rhythm. The effort of digesting a large meal at night can leave you tossing and turning so that your body does not get the healing, restorative sleep that it needs to deal with the mental and physical stress that you face at work. There is also a study that shows that eating a large meal while trying to perform cognitive tasks, such as preparing a report or analyzing complex data, can trigger an immune response in the body that can produce cognitive deficits similar to Alzheimer’s.

• Healthy Snack Tip

If you are eating a meal late at night, select an appetizer or half-size portion. You can also keep snack portions in check by using a bowl or plate instead of eating straight from the package.

 

3. Choose Easy-to-Digest Foods When Eating Late

Foods that are high in animal protein, highly acidic, or fried take longer for the body to digest and can lead to indigestion and a fitful night’s sleep if eaten too close to bedtime. Instead, opt for foods that are high in water content and plant-based proteins and fats that are easier for the body to process.

• Healthy Snack Tip

Low-fat yogurt, bananas, and apples with peanut butter are healthy options when snacking at night that will not put too much of a burden on your digestive system. If you need something a little more substantial, try a salad topped with a little chicken or tuna.

 

4. Choose Foods That Will Stabilize Your Blood Sugar

Your body and brain need a steady supply of glucose for fuel. Simple carbohydrates, such as those found in most processed sweets and snack foods, are metabolized very quickly and release a large amount of glucose into the body within a short amount of time. This means that you will get a sudden rush of energy followed by a sudden crash about an hour later. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, are digested slowly, which provides a steady stream of glucose for both short and long-term energy.

• Healthy Snack Tip:

For a healthy nighttime snack on those nights when you get out of the office too late to cook dinner, try some spicy black beans wrapped in a corn or whole-wheat tortilla.

 

5. Coping With a Sweet Tooth

After a long day of meetings, phone calls, and endless paperwork, you deserve to end your day with something sweet. Instead of reaching for a tub of chocolate ice cream, opt for fresh fruit and yogurt or fruit sorbet flavored with natural sweeteners that are easier to digest but will still satisfy your sweet tooth.

• Healthy Snack Tip

Bananas and cherries are particularly beneficial foods to eat at night since they can help increase your levels of the sleep hormone melatonin so that you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.

Interested in more healthy tips?

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Now that you know our tips for choosing healthy foods to eat at night, share your favorite late-night snack in the comments below.

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