Bedtime snacks. This is a broad topic. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked this question.
“Coach, if I get hungry at night what do I eat?”
The simple answer is, it depends. First off, what time are you going to bed? What is your age? Second, what are your physical goals? Meaning, are you trying to gain weight or lose weight? Is it performance based or is your main goal changing your body composition?
From there, it is about learning your body. Just like in training, everyone is different in some way: each person breaks down food and nutrients differently than others.
So let’s keep it simple. Your snack will be different depending on your goals.
Maintaining or Losing Weight
Caloric intake should be limited before bed if you are trying to maintain or lose weight. For the majority of people trying to lose weight, I recommend eating dinner before 7 p.m. and not consuming food after 8 p.m. This will allow your body time to break down the food at an optimal level while your metabolism is running more efficiently.
Maintaining or Gaining Weight
When it comes to maintaining or gaining weight, we are still looking for a balanced snack and we still want our 3 macronutrients (proteins, carbs, fats) included in the snack, but more calories should be consumed before bed.
If we are looking to gain (performance-based) we may have a higher intake of complex carbs. Whereas if we are looking to gain based on body composition, we may have a higher intake of simple carbs. These are faster digesting, and our body does not hold on to them as long.
So what would this look like?
Performance Based: Protein Shake, Oatmeal, Peanut butter
Body Composition: Protein Shake, Berries, Almonds
Notice that we have not listed any serving sizes. This is because the daily caloric needs of the individual will determine the intake at bedtime. Every person’s resting metabolic rate and activity level are different from each other’s.
Nutrition does not have to be difficult. Learn your macronutrients! Know your goals and get to work!