When you’re trying to lose weight, the first thing you consider is how your diet is affecting your weight. And so often the hardest time of day to stick to your weight loss goals is at night. You make healthy decisions throughout the day: you make a smoothie for breakfast, have a salad for lunch and make a healthy dinner full of good-for-you vegetables and protein, but then the late-night cravings come and they’re hard to resist. You’re tired of saying no to the foods you crave and maybe even eating less than what’s previously been your normal amount. But this is when your decisions truly matter and by making poor choices, you can sabotage your efforts throughout the day. When you overeat before bed, your body is more likely to store those calories as fat, so it’s important to snack smart, both in terms of what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. But we know you don’t want snack on kale leaves so we compiled the following list of 13 late-night snacks that will satiate and satisfy without weighing you down.
Skip the butter and kick up your popcorn game a notch with sea salt and other sensational spices. You can even sprinkle in a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese just to be sure you’re still not craving the movie theater kind you’re used to. A cup comes in at a mere 30 calories, and is packed with fiber, too. Plus, it totally fulfills the your crunchy craving if you’re a typical chip eater.
People are always surprised to hear that chocolate can be a YES even when you’re trying to lose weight. Just be sure you get at least 72 percent cacao to ensure you get plenty of antioxidants and fiber to satiate you, while steering clear of high doses of sugar, which milk chocolate is known to have. And stick to 2 ounces or less and use it in place of other sweets!
When the candy craving strikes, dried fruit, specifically figs are a go-to. Nature’s candy never disappoints, but just keep portion control in mind; you’ll keep your weight loss goals in check if you limit yourself to three or four of these chewy treats. Packed with fiber and naturally low in fat, they’re a great dessert alternative.
The texture is reminiscent of ice cream, but Greek yogurt is a much healthier choice. High in protein and low in sugar, it can fulfill that creamy craving you get from your typical Ben & Jerry’s, but it won’t mess with your blood sugar levels like typical desserts do. We prefer buying the plain variety to avoid added sugars and then choose our own toppings like sliced fruit, a little honey, chocolate chips or cacao nibs for a little something extra.
Related: 15 Genius Ways To Eat Greek Yogurt
Freezing fruit such as berries or bananas will resemble a sorbet-like treat to satisfy your sweet tooth. They’re also rich in fiber which increases satiety, and packed with healthy vitamins and antioxidants to boot. Plus, frozen bananas can be tossed in the food processor to make a homemade “nice” cream. Then add in some frozen berries once the bananas are smooth for a delicious fruity confection.
Apple & Peanut Butter
Along with providing you a satisfying sweetness and crunch, apples are full of fiber. Peanut butter is loaded with protein and the combination of the two makes for a super satisfying snack that is sure to fulfill hunger cravings, all without leaving a heavy feeling in your stomach or causing any guilt.
At only about 100 calories each, a banana is rich in fiber to satiate you and full of the amino acid tryptophan, which your body uses to manufacture serotonin and melatonin—both important mood and sleep-regulating neurotransmitters. You can also dip it in peanut butter for a hit of protein!
High in water and fiber, raw veggies like carrot sticks, celery, bell peppers, snap peas and cucumbers have a mere 25 to 50 calories per cup, and will help you to feel full. Need a little more excitement than just veggies? Try dipping them into protein-rich hummus—which is naturally low in fat—for an added boost of flavor. And one way to make veggies more appealing is to prep them ahead of time and place them front and center in the fridge. If you’re veggies are all prepped and ready to eat, you’ll be more likely to grab them when hunger strikes.
High protein snacks like mixed nuts move slowly through your digestive tract, so you’ll feel fuller for longer. They also are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and more. Plus, they’re crunchy and salty and there’s no prep needed! Just be mindful to not to go crazy since nuts are high in calories.
Even though you’re eating cleaner, you don’t need to give up cheese. It’s a good source of protein, calcium and other nutrients. However, there are certain cheeses that are better than others in terms of calories such as provolone, mozzarella, feta, goat cheese and parmesan. Cut into squares or smear on whole grain crackers! String cheese is a great option too since it’s portion controlled!
11. Avocado Toast
If you need something a little more satisfying, try toasting a piece of whole wheat bread and smashing half an avocado across the top. Sprinkled with a little salt & pepper and you’ve got yourself a satisfying, filling snack. Avocados are a great source of potassium, one of the best healthy fats, plus they’ve got all sorts of vitamins and minerals.
Sweet in taste and low in calories, tart cherries can satisfy your sweet tooth while also helping you to catch some shut-eye, since they are thought to be particularly good for a restful night because they are naturally high in melatonin. And when cherries are in season, they just can’t be beat!
Oatmeal typically makes it’s appearance at breakfast, but since it only takes 5 minutes to make, it can be a great snack for when you need something that truly will stick to your gut. Whole grains such as oats are high in protein and fiber and low in calories. The carbohydrates in oatmeal cause a release of the feel-good hormone serotonin in the body, which works to decrease stress and put the mind in a calmer state.
We know it’s not exactly food, but sometimes when you feel hungry, it’s a good idea to evaluate if you really may just be thirsty. Mistaking hunger for thirst is fairly common and the best thing you can do is to start with some liquid such as tea. Tea has a whole slew of health benefits and may just be the calming elixir you need before bed.
Hard Boiled Egg
A great source of protein, a hard boiled egg is a simple, healthy snack when you need a boost. In fact, we love making a batch of hard boiled eggs at the beginning of the week and then storing them in the fridge to always have on hand. Just sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and you’ve got a tasty treat you can feel good about.
Next time you get a late night craving, reach for one of these snacks instead. Healthy eating doesn’t mean depriving and starving yourself; it’s about finding foods you love that love your body too!