How to Stop Late Night Snacking
Hungry Tip 1️⃣. Ensure you aren’t skipping meals earlier
Skipping meals earlier in the day can lead to low energy and dips in blood sugar which causes hunger later on. Aim to eat 2-3 meals/day and some snacks too. If you are currently intermittent fasting and are hungry at night try moving your meal times to later in the day and extending the time you stop eating at night.
Hungry Tip 2️⃣. Ensure you are consuming protein at every meal
Consuming protein can actually reduce the level of your hunger hormone, ghrelin which is why it is considered the most satiating macronutrient. Your protein needs will be specific to your goals and body weight, but I recommend a range of 1.2g-2.2 g protein per kg (2.2lb) of body weight. Structure your eating schedule so that after your workout you’re consuming at least ~20 grams of protein. This is especially important if you haven’t eaten a balanced meal for several hours prior to your workout.
If your appetite is low after your workout, this is a perfect time for a shake as it's easier to drink down calories when you aren’t hungry. Fueling your body after your workout will help to then stabilize your hunger later on.
Hungry Tip 3️⃣. Fill up on fiber
Fiber takes longer to pass through the digestive system and can help keep you feeling fuller for longer. It's recommended to consume 25-35 grams of fiber each day. The best food sources to help you achieve this are non-starchy veggies (leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, brussels sprouts, cauliflower etc.) fruits with seeds/skin (apples, berries, pears), legumes (lentils, beans, peas), and whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, farro).
Hungry Tip 4️⃣. Ensure you are getting adequate sleep
Lack of sleep can actually lead to impaired glucose metabolism which can cause increased feelings of hunger. Sleep deprivation can also negatively impact the choices you make around food. Ideally aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep. If you struggle falling asleep try developing a night time routine including stretching and/or meditation practices.
Hungry Tip 5️⃣. Consume more no or low-calorie beverages
If you’ve had balanced meals and snacks all day and still feel hungry, try filling up on low or no calorie beverages. For example, have seltzer with meals or try herbal tea after dinner.
Now, if you aren’t truly hungry, but still are reaching for food that's a sign your eating is more emotional. If you fall into this category consider these tips:
Tip 1️⃣. Identify the emotion
Once you’re aware of what's going on, you can change it. Common emotions that may cause you to want to eat are boredom, loneliness and stress.
Tip 2️⃣. Expand your self-care tool box
Once you know what emotion you’re feeling, think of other coping tools to help you deal with it besides food. It can be helpful to keep a list on your phone to read over before going into the kitchen. For example, when you’re bored you can call a friend, go on a walk, listen to a podcast or do some cleaning. When you’re stressed you can journal, meditate, call a family member or friend, or spend time in nature. It will take some trial and error to figure out what coping tools support you best.
Tip 3️⃣. Develop a night time routine to help you de-stress
If you’re often stressed at night after a busy day and this leads you to stress eat, consider developing a routine to help you navigate this. Take 10-15 minutes to stretch, diffuse some essential oils or read a book you enjoy.
Tip 4️⃣. If you find yourself seeking out trigger foods when stressed, keep them out of the house if possible.
If other people you live with want to have these foods in the house, put them somewhere that isn’t right in your line of view and instead set out healthier snacks first. You can also find healthy alternatives for your trigger foods. For example, make a protein ice cream instead of Ben & Jerrys. Or popcorn instead of chips!
Just remember, it’s NORMAL to have cravings, we all do, but with some strategic planning, you can stay on track, while also satisfying that craving. Healthy food swapping is all about making little tweaks that make a big difference to your health & achieving your fitness goals.
When starting your nutrition and fitness journey, hunger can be a normal part of the process.
As fat loss requires that you expend more energy than you consume, your body will release certain hormones to signal hunger and try to get you to consume more food (energy). That might sound cruel, but our bodies don’t want us to lose body-fat, as doing so provides no advantage from a survival standpoint. The severity of hunger will differ from person to person.
However, by implementing these tips, you can reduce the chance your hunger ruins your progress.
- Identify WHY you are snacking at night
- Eat enough earlier in the day focusing on protein, fiber and fluid intake.
- Focus on sleep quantity and quality
- Develop self care coping tools to help you navigate emotional eating
- Instead of restricting, opt for lower calorie substitutes to honor your cravings.