Even if you ate a healthy, filling dinner, it’s not unusual to experience a few hunger pangs at night. But nighttime noshing could be putting you on track to weight gain. Since sometimes it’s inconvenient to cook and clean dishes after a long day, the evening is when you’re most likely to reach for a processed packaged snack and enjoy a serving (or three!). And while the occasional nighttime indulgence won’t pack on weight, doing it on a regular basis will. Instead, reach for these super easy-to-prepare snacks that will help you burn fat–and get a good night’s sleep, too!
6 Bedtime Snacks That Help You Burn Fat (And Sleep Well, Too!)
Cherry Protein Shake
Serve your nighttime snack with a cherry on top–or blended into a smoothie. In addition to dietary fiber–a fat-burning nutrient that also fills you up–cherries are one of the best natural sources of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Melatonin maintains your body’s internal clock (called a circadian rhythm) so maintaining healthy melatonin levels is key to getting quality ZZZs. Pairing cherries with protein also helps you shed weight, since protein boosts your metabolism. Blend a half-cup of tart cherry juice (available at health food stores) with unsweetened almond, coconut or nonfat milk, a cup of frozen sweet cherries and a scoop of your fave protein powder for a fat-burning shake with sleep-boosting benefits. Just rinse out your blender ASAP when you’re done and voila -- almost cleanup-free snacking!
Turkey and Pickle Wraps
Recreate that drowsy feeling you get after a turkey dinner (sans the hours of food prep) with slimming turkey and pickle wraps. Turkey comes packed with protein for fat loss, and it’s an especially good source of tryptophan–an amino acid with natural mind-relaxing properties that can help you sleep. The pickles add flavor and make your snack more filling without adding a significant amount of calories–always a bonus when you’re trying to lose weight. Simply take 3 to 4 slices of low-sodium, nitrate-free turkey and wrap each slice around a slice of low-sodium dill pickle and enjoy. No cooking required!
Walnuts and Oatmeal
A miniature portion of oatmeal and walnuts takes “breakfast for dinner” to a new level. Like cherries, walnuts contain melatonin to help with sleep. They’re also a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that reduces inflammation and might prevent or treat obesity. Pairing your walnuts with oatmeal means you’ll have a snack with lots of healthy carbs. These support an active lifestyle and exercise program, and help your brain absorb and use tryptophan, which makes you drowsy. Oatmeal also supplies high-quality fiber, which will help you lose fat. Avoid eating too many calories by keeping your serving size small. Use just a 1/4-cup of raw oats to make your oatmeal, and top it with 2 to 3 walnut halves, chopped. If you need more sweetness, try stevia–it’s naturally low in calories.
Decaf Iced Green Tea Smoothie
When it comes to fat loss, green tea is a triple threat–it’s free of sugar, virtually-calorie free and it modestly boosts your metabolism. But its caffeine content can cause problems if you’re sensitive. Since it’s a stimulant, drinking caffeine right before bedtime can disrupt your slumber. Avoid tossing and turning all night by opting for caffeine-free tea, which has all the antioxidant benefits of the full-caffeine version. Adding milk means you’ll get more metabolism-boosting protein, while the berries add beneficial antioxidants that help you recover and repair your tissues as you sleep. Prep your green tea in the morning by adding a tea bag or two to a mug of warm water, then allow it to steep in the fridge during the day, or simply use matcha (powdered green tea) in your nighttime smoothie. Blend the tea together with nonfat milk (or unsweetened vanilla almond milk) and a half-cup of frozen blueberries. Then sip yourself slim.
Nutty Low-Sugar Granola
Craving some crunch? Ditch the fatty chips or crackers and snack on granola instead. The oats, dried fruit and coconut in granola all contain high-quality fiber for fat loss, and nuts and seeds add both fiber and slimming protein. Granola also supplies B-complex vitamins, a family of nutrients that only support your metabolism by helping you digest and process nutrients (like protein and carbs) but also help supply your tissues with fresh oxygen, so you feel energized. The best way to stay slim is to make your own granola using high-quality ingredients (you can modify this recipe to include cacao nibs to satisfy a chocolate fix, add shredded coconut for added fiber or substitute coconut oil in place of olive oil). If you’re going with store-bought granola, though, check the label to make sure it’s not loaded with sugar and preservatives. Look for low-sugar varieties, sweetened with just a touch of honey, agave or brown rice syrup instead of high-fructose corn syrup.
Bananas and Peanut Butter
Sweet, salty and slimming? Sign us up! Topping sliced banana with peanut butter means you’ll have a snack rich in sleep-inducing carbs, fat-busting dietary fiber and healthy fats for cardiovascular health. Bananas also serve as a great source of potassium, a nutrient that naturally promotes muscle function (including relaxation) to support a healthy, active lifestyle. And even though peanut butter (and other nut butters) is moderately high in calories, it’s not likely to cause weight gain. Prep this snack however you’d like -- try drizzling peanut butter over banana slices; or cutting a banana in half, lengthwise, and filling it with peanut butter to make a sandwich. Just make sure you use all-natural peanut butter instead of full-of-sugar, processed PB. Look at the label -- it should list peanuts (or peanuts and salt) as the sole ingredients.