Thursday, September 25, 2014

It is late, but I'm hungry! What should I eat?

I am often asked by athletes what a good late-night snack might be. Whether it is because they are up late doing homework or finishing a late workout, there is typically confusion about what a good choice might be so close to bed. Before I answer that question, let me state a few guidelines with respect to eating late:

-Don't eat less than 1 hour before bed. If you eat closer than this, you will be trying to sleep while your body tries to digest (two entirely opposite processes).

-Don't eat a huge meal late at night. If you truly can't eat dinner earlier in the evening, then break up dinner into mini-meals or larger snacks throughout the evening. Another technique is to eat more earlier in the day in preparation for not being able to eat a true dinner.

-If you find yourself STARVING late at night, reassess your intake during the day. Late-night eating shouldn't be a ravenous event. If it is, you likely went too long between eating and/or ate too little earlier in the day.

-If you are a recreational athlete or in the off-season with lower training volume, don't eat a late-night snack if you are not hungry. This is typically unnecessary.

Now that we are on the same page, here are some great options. These foods won't kill your performance nutrition efforts, but will still satisfy your late-night cravings - whatever they may be.

Craving crunchy?
Air-popped, light butter or "Skinny" popcorn
Veggie straws/chips
Mini rice cakes
Whole grain tortilla chips

Craving sweet?
Fruit smoothie frozen bars
Dark chocolate covered cranberries (watch your portion)
Angel food cake topped with strawberries
Real fruit sherbert

Craving creamy?
Fruit-topped Greek yogurt
Hot chocolate made with skim milk
Mashed sweet potato

Craving savory?
Tuna on whole grain crackers
Red peppers dipped in hummus
Baked sweet potato fries with pepper and a little salt
Wasabi mixed nuts (watch your portion)

Keep in mind the above list is only a guideline. What actually is right for you depends on your caloric needs and training goals. Remember that high-level athletes need both carbohydrate and protein plus water at their nighttime snack. Recreational athletes might steer more toward something that's lower in calories but higher in volume, such as air-popped popcorn. For individualized assessment and recommendations, set up a consult today! See for more details.

Be Extraordinary,


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