The other day I was getting ready to train a client of mine who was obviously looking very tired before we had even started. This was a little startling because she was usually very on top of her game and I look forward to her positive energy, but today was different.
I asked her what was going on with her life that would cause her to appear as if she was on her deathbed. Now she had been working very hard to lose those last 10 pounds over the past month I had been working with her.
She then told me she hadn’t been eating anything for dinner for the past 3 days, and I instantly told her she was doing the wrong thing. She then went on to tell me how she read somewhere you shouldn’t eat before going to bed because it’ll all turn into fat while you sleep.
Why Is It Bad For Me To Eat Before Bed?
This is another one of those myths that are half true. When you think about it logically you will be sleeping for the next 8 hours or so, and this will require only a minimal amount of energy. Therefore, it’s easy to think that anything you consume before bed will just sit in your belly and be stored as fat while you are catatonic.
The half true part comes in if you eat bad junk food before going to bed. This is without a shadow of a doubt will cause you to gain weight and I clearly wouldn’t recommend it. So sorry guys no late night pizza!
Also you don’t want to wind up on the opposite end of the spectrum and completely starve yourself into a horrible nights sleep. If you don’t eat to near your bedtime then your blood sugar levels will drop causing you to sleep painfully bad.
My client also told me she had even went to bed by 10:00pm the night before and should have easily have gotten 8 hours of sleep. Just like calories, it’s not necessarily the quantity that’s going to have the biggest impact but the quality of your nights sleep. If you’re tossing and turning all night then I can guarantee you it doesn’t matter how many hours you’re in bad your sleep quality is going to be down in the dumps.
This is mostly because your blood sugar gets too low from not consuming any food near bed time, but you also don’t want to eat too much neither. If you have a huge meal before bedtime, and even if it is healthy, will still cause your quality of sleep to go downhill because your body will be busy digesting that huge loaf in your belly instead of replenishing your body.
So what should you be eating before bed?
I usually eat my dinner between 7pm and 8pm with a bedtime snack around 9:30 or 10pm. I’m definitely going to stay far away from any junk food and anything sugary before bedtime. These will only screw up my nightly sleeping patterns as well as increase my belly fat.
Instead I’m going to find a small meal that will give me those feelings of satiety while also providing my body with some good ol’ fashioned healthy nutrients. One of my favorite things to do is to take two heaping tablespoons of almond butter and then hit my bed hard. Also I’m not technically the greatest cook in the world so this is a quick and easy fix for my bedtime snack.
If I’m really feeling pretty hungry or if I just trained really hard that day then I’ll step up my game a little bit. I’ll toss those two heaping tablespoons of almond butter into my blender along with some protein powder and make a shake. Definitely not rocket science, but it produces a quick and easy meal fix before bed.
Sometimes when you’re really trying to lose fat and you can’t afford the extra calories I would recommend turning to taking some branched chain amino acids (BCAA). These are essentially the building blocks of protein and they’ll also help to stabilize your blood sugar while protecting your hard earned muscle. I usually take around 10g before bedtime but I’m also a 6’3″ 215 lb. man so you should adjust this intake based on your own size and personal goals.
So it is definitely not bad to eat before bed as long as you don’t pig out on junk food and you eat the right stuff. In fact, when done correctly it can actually help you to lose belly fat and gain lean muscle. Just make sure you don’t sneak any cookies and ice cream into your bed time snacking.