Face it: Even when you fuel your body with whole grains, lean protein, and fruits and vegetables all day long, sometimes you find yourself raiding the kitchen cabinets at 9 p.m. because you’re starving.
And at that point, anything looks good—including those stale Oreos (no one wants to go to bed hungry, right?).
But here’s the thing about bedtime snacking: It’s not exactly the best way to lose weight. A 2017 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually found that people who eat before bed tend to have higher amounts of body fat.
Still, when you’re hungry, you’re hungry—and not all bedtime snacks are diet-ruiners; some healthy ones can actually promote sleep, while still keeping your weight-loss goals on track. Try healthy late night snacks that will fill you up, bring on restful sleep, and even help you wake feeling more energized in the morning—all without derailing your healthy-eating efforts.
1. An apple with peanut butter
Getty ImagesJamie Grill
Slice up an apple and dip it into one tablespoon of natural peanut butter. The fiber in the apple and the healthy fat in the peanut butter is a combo that will tide you over until wake-up time, says Amy Gorin, R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area.
Per serving: 200 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 28 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 55 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein.
2. A chocolate pudding cup
When you’re craving dessert late at night, opt for a single-serve sweet treat like pudding. The milk offers protein, and as long as you’re mindful of the brand, it doesn’t have to be high in sugar. Gorin recommends Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding since it contains minimal ingredients and additives.
Per serving: 140 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 140 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein.
3. A peach with nonfat cottage cheese
Jessica Crandall, R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says this duo is chock full of filling protein and fiber with the added benefits of calcium and vitamin C. Buy single-serve (four-ounce) cups of cottage cheese to make your healthy late night snack prep super simple.
Per serving: 150 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 23 g sugar, 820 mg sodium, 2.2 g fiber, 25 g protein.
4. Wasabi almonds
Almonds are high in protein and fiber as well as selenium and magnesium, says Crandall. This is good news for nut lovers, because while the protein and fiber fills you up, the magnesium may help you fall asleep. Choose a bold flavor like wasabi—it really kicks your snack up a notch.
Per serving: 170 calories, 15 g fat (1 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 115 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein.
5. Dried Montmorency tart cherries
Tart cherries supply melatonin, which Gorin says helps regulate your internal clock and may be able to increase overall sleep efficiency. She likes to snack on a quarter cup before bedtime.
Per serving: 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 10 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein.
6. Whole-grain toast with a scoop of guacamole
Toast a slice of whole-grain bread and top it with two tablespoons of guacamole for healthy fat. Gorin recommends Dave’s Killer Bread Thin-Sliced 21 Whole Grains and Seeds. It comes in at 60 calories a slice and provides satiating protein and fiber.
Per serving: 105 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 15 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 185 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein.
7. Nonfat Greek yogurt with chia seeds
Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and fiber; Crandall says topping it with a tablespoon of chia seeds, which are rich in iron and fiber, really gives your healthy late-night snack a powerful punch.
Per serving: 160 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 65 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 15 g protein.
8. Black olives
When you want to feel full for a very small amount of calories, Gorin suggests reaching for a Pearls Olives to Go! snack cup. They’re perfectly portioned, providing a fueling snack with healthy fats for just about 30 calories.
Per serving: 30 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 2 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 300 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.
9. Banana with a handful of sunflower seeds
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Gorin loves pairing a high-fiber banana with two tablespoons of shelled, dry-roasted sunflower seeds. The duo offers filling healthy fats as well as tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body create melatonin.
Per serving: 150 calories, 4.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 29 g carbs, 15 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein.
10. A bowl of cereal with skim milk
Cereal: it’s not just for breakfast. Look for one that’s low in sugar and high in protein and fiber, like Ezekiel 4:9 Almond Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal. It’s bursting with nothing but good-for-you ingredients, says Gorin, including whole grains (think sprouted wheat, barley, millet, and spelt), almonds, lentils, and soybeans. Topped with a little skim milk for calcium, this is a great choice for a healthy late night snack.
Per serving: 115 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 128 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein.
11. Baby carrots
Gorin recommends a dozen baby carrots for those nights when you want the crunch factor of a bag of potato chips without the regret. They’re low in calories but high in fiber, so they’ll fill you up better than chips while satisfying your urge to chew on something.
Per serving: 40 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 10 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 95 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein.
Pistachios provide a filling trio of plant protein, fiber, and healthy fat, and—because they’re in a shell—they take longer to eat, which Gorin says reduces the risk of mindless munching in front of the TV. Try a Wonderful Pistachios 100-calorie pack, which comes in several different flavors, including sweet chili.
Per serving: 100 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 5 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 180 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein.
13. Wheat crackers with low-sodium turkey breast
The protein in the lunch meat will keep you full until your alarm clock goes off, and the whole grains in the wheat crackers are heart-healthy, says Crandall.
Per serving: 178 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 22 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 675 mg sodium, 1.8 g fiber, 11 g protein.
14. Cooked edamame
They may not look like much, but edamame beans are high in protein and fiber (a.k.a. filling AF), Crandall says. She recommends seasoning them with garlic and red pepper flakes after cooking.
Per serving: 200 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 18 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 60 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 16 g protein.
15. Hummus and grape tomatoes
Grab a container of protein- and fiber-rich Sabra Classic Hummus Singles, and use a half cup of grape tomatoes as dippers—Gorin says tomatoes offer melatonin to help you sleep.
Per serving: 180 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 280 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 6 g protein.
16. Air-popped popcorn
Getty ImagesPhoto by Bhaskar Dutta
Steer clear of bags of microwave popcorn—they’re loaded with unnecessary ingredients. Instead, Crandall suggests air-popping your own kernels and sprinkling two cups of popcorn with nutritional yeast or cinnamon for a high-fiber, high-volume healthy late-night snack.
Per serving: 62 calories, 1 g fat (0.1 g saturated), 12 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 2.4 g fiber, 2 g protein.
17. A pear with cheese
Getty ImagesJamie Grill
You really can’t go wrong with a fruit and dairy pairing. Crandall says that cheese is high in calcium and the pear provides filling fiber and immune-boosting vitamin C. A strong cheese, like stilton or goat, is a nice compliment to the subtle flavor of pears.
Per serving: 190 calories, 9 g fat (6 g saturated), 21 g carbs, 14 g sugar, 181 mg sodium, 5.5 g fiber, 7 g protein.
18. A banana oatmeal cookie
For a delicious treat with zero guilt, Crandall says to mix half a banana with rolled oats and a tablespoon of cacao nibs, form into two small mounds, flatten a bit on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
This snack takes a little more preparation, but the cookies are packed with fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, and you could even have another for breakfast in the morning.
Per serving: 152 calories, 3 g fat (1.3 g saturated), 29 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 4.5 g fiber, 2 g protein.
19. Hardboiled eggs with Everything Bagel seasoning
Hardboiled eggs boast a lot of protein for not a lot of calories, so you can slice up two eggs before bedtime for a filling snack. Sprinkle with Trader Joe’s delicious Everything Bagel seasoning to jazz up the taste, suggests Gorin.
Per serving: 145 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated), 140 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 220 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 13 g protein.
20. Nonfat Greek yogurt with frozen berries
You know that Greek yogurt is loaded with protein (you already topped it with chia seeds, remember?), but it’s back again—this time to be served with frozen berries. Crandall says the berry blend is high in antioxidant power and vitamin C. Plus, those frozen berries will make this taste more like delicious fro-yo than plain old yogurt.
Per serving: 135 calories, 0 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 24 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 72 mg sodium, 1.5 g fiber, 12 g protein.
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