ua en ru

Expert's guide: Foods to satisfy late-night hunger pangs

Expert's guide: Foods to satisfy late-night hunger pangs Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

Many people feel hungry in the evening when it's time to go to bed. Eating before sleep is a bad idea as it can be hard for the stomach to digest food, and excess calories will turn into fat. However, suffering from hunger at night isn't a solution either.

RBC-Ukraine writes about what you can and cannot eat before bedtime, according to a fitness trainer Yurii Popko on Facebook.

What to do if you feel like eating in the evening

"At times, you might have trouble falling asleep because you feel hungry. For example, if you had dinner very early and go to bed late. What can you eat without harming yourself? The best option is to eat nothing before bedtime; you've had dinner, and after 3 hours, you go to bed no later than 11 PM," advises the expert.

This period is crucial for the body's restoration, which is why it's essential to go to bed on time. From 11 PM, the liver begins restoration, and from 1 to 3 AM, it's the gallbladder.

"At night, our body needs to restore itself, not digest food. Typically, the food we consume is digested within 3-4 hours. Therefore, dinner should be around 7-8 PM, no earlier, as otherwise, you might feel hungry later," explains Popko.

What's not suitable for a snack before sleep:

"Refined products, those that are processed and lack any nutritional value, like white bread, pastries, refined cereals, cheap pasta, sunflower oil. Also, alcohol, fast food, candies, chocolates, fruits, jams, honey, sweet beverages, i.e., all these are fast carbs," states the trainer.

They elevate glucose and insulin levels, which disrupts melatonin production, causing an imbalance in the body's hormonal system.

"If you occasionally consume such products, it's not critical. But if you've been eating like this systematically for years, it won't benefit you," warns the expert.

What's better for a pre-bed snack:

"Carbohydrates are fine, but they should be complex and rich in fiber, namely, vegetables, and greens. We don't count starchy foods like potatoes, beets, carrots, pumpkins. Or consume beets and carrots in their raw form," says Popko.

It's individual; if raw vegetables or fresh salads don't suit you, then you should prepare them: boil, stew, bake, try various cooking methods, and see which type of thermal treatment and vegetables are suitable for you without causing bloating or discomfort.

"It can also be a salad, for example: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, or bell pepper dressed with olive oil. This snack contains fiber beneficial for gut microflora and prevents spikes in glucose and insulin compared to other products," explains the trainer.

Fats are also suitable, but plant-based, for example, almond or coconut milk, nuts, nut paste, and avocado.

"If you have gallbladder issues, fats alone won't be suitable. Consume them together with fiber to avoid a bitter taste in the mouth in the morning. Also, add protein, which provides satiety but not too much. It can be plant-based protein, like legumes, hummus, quail eggs, or lightly salted trout," advises Popko.

It's preferable not to eat meat as it's heavy before sleep, and it's better to consume such protein-rich products in the first half of the day when the body is ready to digest them.

"If you regularly can't fall asleep without a snack, either review your diet as it might be unbalanced or there could be disruptions in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. A healthy person doesn't need snacks before bedtime," concludes the trainer.

Also, read about what you should eat to reduce the risk of heart disease.