Dieting is easy enough in the day when you’re busy with work and errands, but cravings often strike at night when you’re relaxing and bored. We’ve all experienced that 9pm craving for something sweet that just can’t be ignored, but doing this every night will impact your healthy diet or weight loss goals. Trying to break the habit? Express.co.uk chatted to F45 Training Sports Nutritionist Kim Bowman to find out how to beat late-night cravings and stay on track with your weight loss goals.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some processed foods or sweet treats every now and then, but eating unhealthy foods every night is a sure-fire way to halt your weight loss progress.
Sports Nutritionist Kim Bowman from F45 said: “Research has shown that late-night eating is linked to excess intake of empty calories, which makes it tough to move past plateaus and achieve health goals.
“We can all fall into a constant cycle of late-night snacking that may affect our weight loss goals, but there are plenty of ways to help you manage cravings and stay on track with a sustainable healthy eating routine.
“It’s really all about incorporating plenty of nutrient-dense foods, such as those rich in fibre while avoiding processed carbs to keep blood sugars stable throughout the day.”
Here are four ways to help you quit late-night snacking.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Breakfast is essential for setting your body up for either a productive day or one that may leave you feeling tired, irritable, and craving snacks later.
Kim explained: “Breakfast is key for jumpstarting our metabolism after a period of sleep, and we want to ensure that we fuel up with quality nutrients that will keep our metabolism functioning optimally.
“Having high-glycemic foods—such as baked goods, doughnuts or croissants.—in the morning will cause blood sugar to skyrocket and crash soon after.
“While we might feel satisfied for a brief period, you’ll be more likely to feel hungry shortly after.
“High-glycemic foods induce a rapid increase in blood sugar and rapid insulin response, causing feelings of hunger to return more quickly than low-glycemic foods.”
Low-glycemic foods, on the other hand, cause a slower, steadier increase in blood glucose.
Kim said: “These include sweet potatoes, quinoa, oats, whole grain bread (ezekiel bread), beans, veggies, and some fruits, including bananas.
“Low-glycemic foods contain lots of fibre, and having them for breakfast alongside a quality source of protein and fat is key to avoiding cravings while also optimizing metabolism for efficient calorie burning throughout the day.”
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Protein and fibre are key to sustain feelings of fullness
Ensuring we achieve adequate protein and fibre intake throughout the day will ensure we avoid filling up on empty calories, Kim said.
The nutritionist expanded: “Protein increases satiety, which helps to suppress ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger cues.
“There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble fibre.
“Soluble fibre, which includes fermented and resistant starch, is key for moderating cravings.
“It slows digestion, keeping us feeling more satisfied for longer and regulating appetite.”
A homemade smoothie is a great way to incorporate protein, fibre, and a number of vitamins and minerals, Kim suggested.
She added: “Be sure to incorporate a quality protein source and add a source of fibre, such as chia seeds or oats, to a smoothie for more nutrient density.”
Stick to a meal timing method
Intermittent fasting is a mindful eating pattern that focuses on cycling through time windows of fasting and eating, according to Kim.
The nutritionist said: “By eating regularly throughout the day during a specific time window, such as 10am to 8pm, we allow our body to adopt an efficient pattern for metabolizing and digesting the food we consume in the day. Intermittent fasting research has highlighted that it is an ideal method for regulating insulin and stabilizing blood sugars, which is key for avoiding late-night cravings.
“To start intermittent fasting, simply pick an eight to 10 hour time window that you know you can stick to throughout the day and incorporate your meals at regular intervals throughout this period.
“It’s a great way to become more mindful of your hunger cues while also ensuring you stay on top of consuming quality foods in the day to avoid cravings at night!”