Munching on your food cravings before hitting the sack may be hard to resist, especially knowing that your personal trainer won’t find out. The good news is that it’s okay to have a late night snack before bed, just as long as you choose foods that will promote muscle gain and body fat loss. If you’re under a personal training program with a strict diet, that doesn’t mean that you have to torture yourself and starve your way until breakfast. Regardless of whether you’re dietary goal is muscle gain or weight loss, there are certain foods that should always be avoided after 9 p.m. Remember that you’re about to embark on an eight-hour fast otherwise known as sleep. That’s why if you do make a big dietary blunder, your body has no chance to compensate by burning additional calories. Repeating these mistakes habitually will ruin your fitness plan and jeopardize your health.
1. MilkThough considered to be a relatively healthy source of protein and calcium, the problem with downing a glass of milk before bed is the lactose content that’s found in it will often keep you up due to digestive issues. Lactose is a sugar and you don’t want large amounts hitting your system before going to bed. As a replacement for milk, mix up a lactose-free protein shake. It will still have the creamy taste that you’re craving for while being even higher in protein content than milk, so you can build muscle while sleeping soundly.
2. PastaIf you're in mass-gaining mode, consuming some carbohydrates before sleeping can help out. But there are much better choices than insulin-spiking pasta before bed. Those calories will be highly prone to settle around your waist. Pasta is one of the more calorie-dense carbohydrate sources around, you can easily consume 400 calories or more in a single pre-bed sitting. Pasta does less damage earlier in the day, before or after working out, when your body actually requires a much higher overall carbohydrate intake. That's when your body is actually primed to use those carbohydrates to fuel your activity and replenish the high energy storage in the muscle cells. If you're craving pasta before bed, eat spaghetti squash instead. It'll give the same taste and texture as pasta with just a fraction of the carbs.
3. ChocolateChocolate isn't just higher in sugar and fat content than other late-night snacks, it also contains caffeine. Chocolate could rob you of the precious sleep you need to allow your body to recover maximally from your hard workout sessions. Those who don't sleep enough on a regular basis are much likelier to suffer from increased cortisol levels, which will actually encourage muscle tissue breakdown. Instead, whip up your own high-protein chocolate brownie. Simply mix together one scoop of chocolate protein powder with one egg white and then place in the microwave for 90 seconds or so. You'll have a protein-packed caffeine-free dessert that will kill any chocolate craving fast.
4. PizzaPizza ranks as one of the most craved foods by dieters and those focused on muscle building alike.
But, if you are going to have a cheat meal and indulge in a slice or two, make sure to do it earlier in the day than 9 p.m. or after. Pizza contains too many calories to have before bedtime. You'll get an extra dose of both carbohydrates and a large amount of saturated fat which will just sit in your stomach as you lie awake in bed at night. With insulin levels high from the carbohydrates that you've just consumed, and all those excess fat calories sitting around in the blood, what you have is a recipe for fat gain. Instead of pizza, eat a few hard boiled eggs instead. You'll feed your body muscle-building protein without a ton of excess empty calories to go along with them.
5. ChiliWhile chili can be healthy when made with the right mix of ingredients, when taken too often, it's not. After 9 p.m, eating chili may end up causing heartburn, a buzz kill for sound slumber. If chili peppers went into preparing the recipe, this is one that you'll want to avoid. Chili peppers can also boost the metabolic rate. Before bed, it could leave you lying awake for hours. If you need something warm and comforting before bed, serve up a small bowl of vegetable soup with added shrimp tossed in. The shrimp will provide the protein that your body needs before the overnight fast, and the vegetable soup is a lower-calorie alternative that will keep fat from accumulating.
Some protein is definitely required before bed and a must for preserving your lean muscle and promoting a speedy recovery, but overdoing it at this time is just going to force the body into an extensive digestive process which could cause you to lie in bed awake. Protein does take a lot of energy to digest and break down so if you want to be sure that you get a peaceful slumber, so aim to keep it between 20 and 50 grams total before bed, depending on your overall protein requirements. For best results, choose to fill those 20-to-50 grams up with turkey meat, which contain a sleep-promoting amino acid called tryptophan.