By Marisa Morales, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor
In college, you will likely find yourself staying up late at night just to finish your paper that’s due at 11:59pm, or study for an exam you have the next day. Seems like it is just part of college life. You may also notice that the longer you stay up the hungrier you get－you may even find yourself eating as a response to the stress you’re feeling. Have you ever wondered what these late-night snacks might do to your health?
There have been numerous studies on the hypothesis that gaining weight occurs more easily with snacking past 8pm. A nutrition professor at Penn State University, Barbara Rolls, confirmed that this hypothesis is a myth. She states that of the studies and surveys conducted thus far, there has been no significant correlation between weight gain and snacking at night. There is, however, significant evidence showing a positive correlation between weight loss and eating breakfast. In general, we shouldn’t focus on when we eat but instead focus on what we eat. If you feel the urge to snack past 8pm try to opt for nutrient dense foods. Nutrient dense foods are those that provide a high amount of nutrients for the calories. For instance, oranges are a nutrient dense food while cookies are low in nutrient density (provide few nutrients relative to the large amount of calories). Check out the list below for some nutrient dense late night snacks!
- Apple slices with nut butter
- Carrots with hummus
- Greek yogurt
- Plain popcorn
- Banana and nut butter on wheat toast
- Crackers and cheese
- Celery with nut butter
- Frozen/unfrozen grapes
- Protein smoothie
I have always believed that we should listen to our body’s signals. If your body is telling you it is hungry, feed it. Your body knows when it needs energy and it knows when to tell you. I, for one, find it very difficult to continue any task if my mind is focused on food. I know how difficult it can be to find the time to eat when you are running around campus going from classes, to office hours, to work, etc. What you must remember is that in order to get through the day you need to eat. Pack a lunch box with some of the snacks mentioned above (they make great mid-day snacks, too!). If you can try to avoid the hunger, I would highly encourage you to do so. I’m sure I am not the only one who feels like eating a full-on feast of pizza, burgers, and ice cream when I let myself get too hungry. I’ve found that if I have a morning snack, afternoon snack, and night snack in between my normal meals then I feel perfectly satisfied eating smaller, healthier portioned meals.
Recipe: Bedtime Smoothie
Total time: 5 minutes
1 cup kale leaves
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 ripe banana
1 tbsp almond butter
2 tsp flax seeds
½ cup almond milk
- Blend all the ingredients together, that’s it!
*take a look at this website for more information on the sleep benefits behind these tasty ingredients! https://helloglow.co/bedtime-smoothie-better-sleep/
What is your favorite late night snack? Let us know in the comments!