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Late-night snacking has a bad reputation as the ultimate “no-no” for healthy weight loss. However, most health experts would agree: it’s not so much the snacking, but what you choose to snack on that makes the difference. Now, that bag of gummy bears, chocolate bar or tub of popcorn isn’t considered a healthy snack at any time of day— never mind at night. Instead, the best late-night snacks are high in protein or healthy fats, and free from refined sugar. Healthy fats and protein are the best macronutrients to eat at night because they help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable by eating protein and healthy fats can help prevent your body from storing excess sugar as fat. You see, carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy. But since you’re not likely to be running a marathon an hour or two before you go to bed, any carbohydrates you eat that aren’t used for energy right away will get stored as fat (and converted back to energy when your body needs it later on).
That being said, the next time you want to nibble on something past 8 pm, don’t give into the fear of gaining weight. Instead, choose low sugar snacks that are rich in blood sugar balancing nutrients.
Here are 5 healthy snacks you can eat at night that won’t sabotage your health goals or weight loss efforts.
1. Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds are high in omega 3 essential fatty acids, which not only stabilize blood sugar levels, but help promote weight loss by keeping your appetite satiated for longer periods of time (hence the perfect snack food item). Chia seeds are also high in fiber, which promote natural detoxification. Here’s a basic recipe for chia seed pudding, that you can customize with any toppings you’d like. We recommend adding extra flavour with a touch of raw honey and ½ cup of low glycemic fruit, such as berries.
Basic Chia Pudding Recipe
¼ cup chia seeds
1 cup unsweetened nut milk of your choice
A few drops of pure vanilla extract to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir well and let sit for 4-6 hours in the fridge, or until a jelly-like texture forms.
Top with your desired ingredients.
2. Unsweetened Plain Greek Yogurt (Add Your Own Toppings and Flavours)
Plain Greek yogurt makes a great snack for blood sugar balance, as it’s higher in protein than other varieties of yogurt. We recommend choosing full-fat Greek yogurt over low-fat Greek yogurt if possible, as the low-fat varieties typically contain more grams of sugar per serving than the full fat. Just like chia seed pudding, you can customize plain greek yogurt to suit your flavor preferences with pure vanilla extract, a touch of raw honey or a few drops of liquid green leaf stevia. Fresh mint and berries also add a refreshing boost of flavor. One serving of greek yogurt is typically ¼ of a cup, but you can confirm the recommended serving size on the back of the container. We recommend choosing plain Greek yogurt over the flavored varieties to avoid added refined sugar, which can total up to 28g of sugar per serving.
3. Quest Bars
Have you ever wondered if there’s a nutrition bar that tastes good— and is actually good for you? In our humble opinion, Quest Bars are one of the best choices for a high protein bedtime snack. Quest Bars aren’t an energy bar, but a protein bar that’s sweetened with natural sweeteners such as stevia. With flavors such as cookie dough, cookies and cream, mint chocolate chunk and lemon cream pie, it will feel like you’re eating dessert— but without the sugar or guilt. With over 20 grams of protein per serving, even half of a Quest Bar could be filling enough to satisfy your bedtime snack craving.
4. An Apple and Nut Butter
Apples are a high fiber, low glycemic fruit that make an ideal bedtime snack when paired with a healthy fat or protein, such as nut butter. As mentioned above, healthy fats and proteins help stabilize blood sugar levels. This is because they are much slower to digest, which also helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream when eaten with carbohydrates, such as fruit. Apples pair well with any nut butter, from cashew to pumpkin seed to almond butter. If you’re not a nut butter fan, you could also pair an apple with another healthy fat, such as cottage or ricotta cheese.
5. Hemp Banana “Nice” Cream
While bananas aren’t as low in sugar as apples or berries, they do contain a few specific nutrients that may help improve the quality of your sleep, such as the amino acid L-tryptophan. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your sleep cycle. When paired with a healthy fat or protein such as hemp hearts, the natural sugar in bananas have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels. This recipe for banana hemp “nice” cream makes an excellent healthy snack for when you’re craving something sweet.
Hemp Banana Nice Cream Recipe
1 frozen banana
3 tbsp unsweetened nut milk
Few drops pure vanilla extract, to taste
2 tbsp hemp hearts
Few splashes of water to reach your desired consistency (optional)
Place all ingredients in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add water as needed, to form a creamy, smooth texture.