Late Night Protein Snack Not the Whole Story !
Convert this page to a PDF
Posted: Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Savvy Fat Burning Food
Do you love snacking, I do. In fact I usually always have a snack around 10 after dinner. So I guess, as long as I'm going to snack, then I'd better find out what is the best sort of snack to eat before dinner. Carbs or Protein.
Protein has been a popular choice because the digestion of protein causes the body to burn more calories than do carbs or fats. This marginally increases the rate of metabolism. Protein also provides the body with the essential biological building blocks known as amino acids to maintain muscle.
Because amino acids can't be stored, having a constant supply of these is essential. So by eating protein at the end of the day, you're ensuring that your body won't be without the amino acids it needs during the 8 - 10 hours sleep.
So protein is a good after dinner snack, but is this the whole story ?
A Missing Piece of the Fat Burning Snack Puzzle
What would happen if you ate carbs for your late night snack ? What about eating both carbohydrates AND protein ?
Dieters and athletes alike worry that they will gain weight if they eat carbs close to going to bed. Essentially this is not true. Weight gain does not result if you habitually eat carbohydrates after the evening meal and before you go to bed. Research indicates that carbohydates at bed time play a role in helping to lose and maintain weight.
Researchers administering this study split participants into two groups, one eating a ready-to-eat cereal with skim milk, and the other not eating anything before bed time over a four week period. The group who ate the ready-to-eat cereal before bed actually lost more weight than those who did not eat a bed time snack. One explanation may be that carbohydrates are necessary for your body to process and break down fat. So cutting carbohydate intake when you want to burn fat might not be the best way to go.
Another explanation, may be that those who ate the cereal just ended up consuming less calories. Researchers found that participants, in both groups consumed less calories, but those who ate the before bed time snack had the greatest decline in energy intake overall. So eating carbs before bed will help you to lose weight, not gain weight.
Interestingly though, the group who ate the before bed-time snacks in the above study did not just consume carbohydrates, they also consumed protein not only from the skim milk, but also the protein contained in the cereal itself.
Expert Opinions on the Right Before Bed Snack
Many nutritionists and dietetic experts recommend that your bed time snack consists of both carbohydrates and protein. The American Dietetic Association recommends eating sources of both carbs and protein together as a snack, giving examples such as crackers and low fat cheese, yogurt and fruit or cereal and milk.
In an Australian Institute of Sport sample high energy meal plan (reported by Steve Dow) for a young anonymous athlete, fruit smoothies with skim milk, fruit, ice-cream and skim milk powder was listed as the bed time snack. Their official site also indicates that combining nutrients is the way to go.
The Whole Story About the Best Before Bed Time Snack
So according to the experts, examples of the most beneficial bed-time snacks are:
* fruit and some plain low fat yogurt,
* a skim milk smoothie with fruit, or
* low fat cheese on crackers - my personal favorite.
When you combine both carbohydrates and protein in a snack it makes for a much more enjoyable and varied snack than just mixing up a protein shake or munching on an apple. This way you are not only ensuring that your body is getting enough ready energy for use of overnight, but also ensuring that you are also "feeding" your muscles.
Date Written: 1st March 2006.
Jenny Mathers writes for http://www.savvy-fat-burning-food.com, collecting the most up to date and reputable information about weight loss, nutrition and overall health. You can also subscribe anonymously to her RSS research and article resource feed http://www.savvy-fat-burning-food.com/fat-burning-food.xml.
This Article has been viewed 22,249 times. (Not updated in real-time.)Top-level comments on this article: (3 total)
» left by Elizabeth from Toronto 6 years 308 days ago.
Thank you for your clear explanations. I'd like a more complete list of high protein, but non-commercial, snacks.
» left by Remy from Toronto 3 years 49 days ago.
Liz, I hope you got your answer....by now. :-)
» left by c payne from engand 2 years 286 days ago.
yes it was very helpful, thankyou very much i have been snacking in the evenings on some greek yogurt plus bran flakes so i guess i am on the right lines, but going to try cheese and crackers sounds good.