The evening meal before bed is a habit for many people, while others prefer to concentrate nutrients in the main meals of the day.
However, the meal before bed can become a trick to be able to eat less at each meal and absorb the good nutrients necessary for energy metabolism.
Many athletes spread their dietary needs over several meals, including a small meal at the end of the day. But this trick also works really well for those looking for a healthier diet: you just need to know the perfect foods for good digestion and better sleep.
What to eat before sleeping?
Eating before bed isn't necessarily a bad habit—a light last meal of the day can improve nutrient absorption and the quality of rest.
The evening meal consists of a low-calorie secondary meal, which facilitates digestion and does not provide unnecessary energy to the body. If consumed correctly, it can be very useful and also become a strategy for those who want to lose weight or for athletes.
Snacking before bed helps eliminate that feeling of hunger before bedtime which most of the time leads to junk food. In addition, this meal promotes muscle recovery and nocturnal protein synthesis, allowing the body to remain in the anabolic phase. That's why a protein snack can become the key to optimizing your metabolism and living a healthy life.
Indeed, energy metabolism undergoes a catabolic phase, which produces waste products, and an anabolic phase, which produces new cellular components. Both are needed by the body, but it is important that there is a balance because catabolism leads to tissue aging, while anabolism allows muscle development.
So, for a variety of reasons, athletes and dieters alike can benefit from a protein snack before a night's rest.
Those who keep in shape indeed need a large amount of energy, which cannot be assimilated only with the main meals, but must be distributed throughout the day.
On the other hand, those who want to get in shape in a healthy way can eliminate the problem of nighttime hunger with snacks that make it easier to manage low-calorie diets.
These secondary meals are essential to avoid binge eating and to get used to smaller and more digestible portions. To improve the effectiveness of healthy eating, calculate your daily dietary needs and ensure you are consuming the right amounts of essential nutrients, favoring foods rich in vitamins and minerals for daily snacks and those rich in protein for the evening.
But this secondary meal is not only used to ward off the feeling of hunger and to speed up the metabolism. It can be a real panacea for those who suffer from insomnia because consuming protein foods rich in tryptophan can raise the levels of serotonin and melatonin, the hormones for good mood and sleep.
Melatonin also has an opposite action with respect to the stress hormone, cortisol, and therefore not only improves sleep, but helps to not get stuck in a stressful situation.
When to manage before sleeping?
During weight loss and muscle mass growth due to physical activity, snacking before bedtime becomes one of the best cures for hunger.
Eating one to three hours before going to sleep is therefore necessary, if you follow a rich diet due to intense training or if you are used to a heavy diet and want to lose weight or avoid stomach problems .
Snacks are used by those who train in order not to lose muscle hypertrophy due to increased cortisol and therefore catabolism. In fact, the stress hormone increases during training, but the important thing is that after exercise an anabolic phase occurs, which sees insulin as the protagonist.
This anabolic hormone is activated by the increase in blood sugar and this is why it is necessary to fill up with nutrients after exercise: the post-activity snack then triggers the action of insulin, unlike that of cortisol.
In addition to this, it is necessary to spread the nutrients throughout the day and especially the evening protein snack becomes important. To stay in anabolic phase and counter stress, it is good to choose supplements with anabolic power, such as caseins, at the last meal of the day.
The ideal evening snack is therefore made up of these protein powders diluted in water, which have low absorption kinetics and provide the amino acids necessary for nocturnal protein synthesis.
For those who want a healthier, more active lifestyle, protein snacking can be an effective mechanism to offset the need for an overnight fast.
Indeed, if you go to bed on an empty stomach you will not sleep well, while if you assimilate the nutrients that promote melatonin synthesis and anabolism your body will react better to a low calorie diet.
In addition, a protein snack consumed up to an hour before getting under the covers avoids the possibility of waking up with nervous hunger and having a bad start to the day.
The snack before bedtime is also a good ally for those who have an unbalanced diet and who, even if they do not need low-calorie remedies, want to get back in shape.
Indeed, psychophysical discomfort can also manifest itself in gastric disorders and mental stress, as dangerous as pathologies related to nutrition. In these cases, dividing into primary and secondary meals and snacking before bedtime can promote a good sense of appetite during the day, good digestion, and an uninterrupted night's sleep.
For the technique of eating little and often to work, you have to distribute the right nutrients throughout your waking time, avoid sugars, especially in the evening, and ensure your well-being through a healthy diet. Healthy foods are simple to prepare and can make a difference thanks to the action of antioxidants, which help the body fight against stress and aging.
This is even more true for the evening snack, which must be simple, well digestible and protein.
What to eat before sleeping?
The ideal evening meal to optimize sleep and protein synthesis is a digestible meal that is still high in protein. For this reason, protein powders are often suggested, especially anabolic caseins and whey protein, which contain melatonin's precursor, tryptophan.
These remedies are particularly suitable for athletes, but the right amount of amino acids and antioxidants for a peaceful bedtime are found naturally in many healthy foods.
The meal before going to bed will be chosen according to what you have eaten during the day: if you need to supplement yourself with calcium, favor milk and dairy products, while if you need iron, you can opt for fish, like salmon, or chickpea hummus. In addition, it is good to assimilate potassium and especially magnesium before going to bed, because these mineral salts improve rest.
Fruit can also be good as an evening snack: pears are rich in minerals, while an apple can help regulate sugars, but being high in fiber, these fruits are not ideal.
Instead, you can make yourself a banana smoothie, which has everything you need: magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan. Instead of fresh fruit, it is better to eat dried fruit: Hazelnuts and almonds are an exceptional source of magnesium and other mineral salts, while walnuts contain tryptophan, the precursor of melatonin.
But for a real protein snack, opt for one of these small meals: chickpea hummus, avocado, cottage cheese, or egg whites. Foods such as chickpeas and avocado are rich in protein and contain magnesium and tryptophan, elements that are friendly to relaxation, while milk and eggs are protein foods par excellence, excellent for the evening snack of sportsmen.
As an alternative to egg whites, you can prepare a small toast, while if you need calcium, even low-fat yogurt is an ally for muscle recovery at night.
Another before bedtime snack that contains both protein and sleep-promoting minerals is protein oats: it can be combined with a cup of milk or Greek yogurt for the perfect snack, which helps you stay in the mood. anabolic phase. Instead of eating it in milk, you can choose a protein bar, which provides the right amount of nutrients.
Finally, even if sugars are not good before going to bed, there is one food that is an exception: honey, in fact, facilitates rest whether it is eaten raw or in a drink. There are certain foods you should never eat before going to bed, here are what they are:
- Vegetables: rich in vitamins and minerals, they are also a source of dietary fiber, which slows down digestion, so if you want fresh vegetables, some lettuce leaves are preferable;
- Red meat: foods such as steak or roast beef can be eaten rarely, but not in the evening, as they activate the body and therefore prevent sleep;
- Dark chocolate: also a stimulating food to avoid before going to sleep and rather excellent in the morning to fill up on energy;
- Pasta: it is better to prefer a slice of wholemeal bread rather than a rich and difficult to digest dish that brings unnecessary energy before bed;
- Fried foods and ice cream: these foods are to be avoided in a low-calorie diet, but especially in the evening they are never good for good digestion.