Is eating before bed really such a bad idea?
Depending on your unique metabolism and physical activity level, eating before bed may or may not be a good idea. Generally, the earlier in the evening you can eat your least meal or snack of the day, the better.
There are four keys areas that eating before bed will impact:
- the appearance of your face the following morning
- your energy level the following morning
- your overall health
- your weight
Best Food to Eat Before Bed
The best food to eat before bed is one that doesn’t make your face puffy in the morning. Why show up at work looking unnecessarily old, bloated and tired? Your face is what communicates to others — on an unspoken level — “I bring my A-game.”
For dinner, I recommend super salads. If you’re a vegan you can top your salad with raw sprouted seeds and tempeh for extra protein, or if you’re a Paleo athlete you can top it with some diced free-range chicken. For dessert — if you worked out that day and if your calorie allotment still allows for it — my favorite foods before bed are:
- ◕ almonds
- ◕ organic blueberries
- ◕ pecans
- ◕ frozen banana chunks
- ◕ coconut
I also make a blended Key Lime “ice cream” with spinach, mango and macadamia that is probably the my most favorite thing to eat ever! I’m 47 years old and how I was able to lose fat and stay lean is by substituting healthy snacks for less healthy ones.
How Eating Before Bed Impacts Your Appearance
The skin on your face is an excellent barometer of whether or not what you ate last night agreed with you.
The less healthy a food is for your body, the more your face will show it. In particular, look at your eyes, and the tender tissue beneath. Is the area taut and bright, or puffy and darkish? Look at the whites of the eyes themselves — are they super white and crisp, or dull glassy and with some redness? These are important clues! It seems to be inflammatory foods that wreak the most havoc on one’s face, so lean toward those anti-inflammatory foods that your body will respond to positively — such as the natural fiber found in fruit.
How Eating Before Bed Impacts Your Energy Level
In a perfect world, you eat your dinner as early in the evening as possible, and you don’t snack after dinner. However, who among us lives in a perfect world? Sometimes, having something a bit sweet after dinner helps us to relax and feel sleepy so that we can have a good rest overnight and then awaken with a high energy level the next morning. It depends, in part, on how many calories you are allowed each day.
Also, people who workout consistently and intensely have to time their eating carefully because if they eat too early, they will suddenly become hungry just as they’re trying to fall asleep. It sounds like a little thing, but it can feel tortuous! Worse, athletes can also sometimes wake up in the middle of the night feeling ravenous (however, unless you exercise very intensely every single day, this probably won’t apply to you). On days when I eat dinner early but go to bed late and I worked out hard that day, I’ll make myself a fresh raw frozen dessert using a powerful blender.
For those of you who are light sleepers, there are foods that help you sleep in a healthy way. It’s a good idea to eliminate refined sugars so that any sugars you do have after dark are naturally occurring within the whole food, such as in fruit. I know that some people say that all sugars are the same to your body, and though that sounds scientific, it simply to doesn’t jibe with my personal experience. Listen very carefully to your own body after you eat, and it will provide you with a wealth of information!
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How Eating Before Bed Influences Your Overall Health
There has been a growing body of evidence that calorie restriction is one of the keys to a long lifespan. The general theory is that overnight your body likes to concentrate on healing and cell restoration. However, we divert the body’s overnight focus from healing and toward digestion instead, when we too much too closely before bed (and, especially, if we eat the wrong foods before bed).
Much of the time when we wake up in the morning feeling “blah,” what’s really going on is we have a food hangover.
“Calorie Restriction” doesn’t mean what it sounds like. For example, if the average American eats over 3,000 calories a day, then 2,000 calories a day is comparatively restrictive, but still enough to be comfortable. But each person’s daily allotment of calories is different. How many calories do you think you should be having on days when you exercise? What about on days you don’t exercise? I think it’s a good idea for everybody to “know their numbers.”
How Eating Before Bed Influences Your Weight
Your metabolism slows down at night. Your body needs more quick yet sustained energy in the morning and afternoon; it doesn’t require as many calories at night if all you’re doing in bed is watching television, working on your laptop, or sleeping. Also, in my personal opinion, I think digestion just works better when we’re upright rather than prone, so to eat a lot right before reclining for the evening is counterintuitive.
Speaking personally, I find that what I ate the night before has a direct impact on how fat my belly looks the following morning.
“…we’ve learned that abdominal fat tissue is a hotbed of inflammation
that pours out all kinds of inflammatory molecules into the body”
Dr. Peter Libby ~ WSJ
Worst Food to Eat Before Bed
Inflammatory foods are the worst to eat before bed:
- ▸ refined sugars
- ▸ grains (especially anything made from flour)
- ▸ dairy
- ▸ alcohol
- ▸ fried anything
There is much debate currently among experts as to what constitutes good food and bad food. In the end, I invite you to listen carefully to how your own body feels after you eat something and — as always — I encourage you to consult with your doctor and nutritionist before making any radical changes to your diet. What I’ve found to be true over the years in my work as a counselor and as a fitness trainer, is that if you want to look and feel better than you ever have before in your life, you’re going to need to find clever ways to sneak more vegetables into your daily diet.