Evening cravings are possibly one of the hardest parts about eating clean and healthy. Here are three great options for nighttime snacks that you don’t have to feel guilty about.
Amino acids, along with exercise and weight training, help build muscles. Eating protein-rich foods at bedtime lets your body produce amino acids to repair muscles while you sleep. Since you spend about one-third of your life sleeping, eating protein every night before bed will allow you to maintain healthy muscles.
You want to eat something that will relax you, but you also need a snack that will help you build muscle overnight. Caffeine, sugar and excess salt are out of the picture. You need food that’s proven to make you calm and produce amino acids. Remember to eat the right amount of protein-rich foods during the day for your age, sex and activity level. Drink a whey protein shake within an hour after an intense workout to repair overworked muscles.
Check out three great things to eat before bed to build muscle and keep amino acids in your bloodstream while you sleep.
1. Greek Yogurt and Other Dairy Products
You’ve probably heard that drinking a glass of milk at bedtime can make you sleepy, but eating dairy products before you doze off can also help you build muscles.
Drink a tall glass of low-fat milk before bed )eight grams protein) with avocado toast – or avocado spread on a bagel. A cup of sliced avocado has 2.9 grams of protein, 4.6 grams of dietary fiber, plus magnesium, Vitamin K, folate, potassium and Vitamin B6. It’s also a great source of Vitamin E and heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.
Greek yogurt is a lot creamier than regular yogurt because it lacks the liquid whey, sugar, and lactose of thinner, plain yogurt. Both types of yogurt are full of calcium and protein, but six ounces of Greek yogurt has 15 to 20 grams of protein, compared to 9 grams in the same amount of regular yogurt.
Sprinkle chia or flax seeds in your Greek yogurt for even more protein – and fiber-power. Chia seeds contain fiber, antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids and two tablespoons contain four grams of protein. A cup of Greek yogurt and two tablespoons of Chia seeds has 24 grams of protein and 14 grams of carbohydrates.
Flax seeds add plant-based Omega 3s and six grams of protein to your already-muscle building Greek yogurt. A three-tablespoon serving of flax seeds contains 30% of the RDA for magnesium, 31% of the RDA for Vitamin B1 and eight grams of fiber.
Eat low-fat cottage cheese with a handful (one ounce) of almonds. Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fats, six grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber and 20% of the daily recommended value of magnesium. The fiber fills you up, and the protein slows digestion to provide you with amino acids bit by bit.
Add a cup of nonfat cottage cheese, which has 15 grams of protein to your bedtime snack for a total of 21 grams of protein. Add a few more almonds or more cottage cheese if you like for more protein.
For another low to low-prep snack, eat a few slices of reduced fat cheese with chopped raw carrots, broccoli or celery. Choose low-fat mozzarella cheese (32 grams of protein per cup) or goat cheese (31 grams protein per cup) for the biggest muscle-building power.
2. Canned Tuna or Fish
For a quick and easy snack, open a can of water-packed tuna and add a teaspoon or two of olive oil. A drained can of water-packed light tuna has 39.3 grams of protein (79% of the suggested daily value). Eat half the can and save the other half for lunch the next day if that’s too much pre-bed protein for you. Tuna is also high in choline, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6. One can of tuna has 102% of the daily value of niacin.
Eat a piece of salmon left over from dinner, or cook a fresh piece with olive oil. Salmon is incredibly nutritious, with a four-ounce serving of wild-caught salmon containing 53.1% of the daily recommended value for protein and a whopping 55% of the DV for Omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon also has 127% of the daily value of mood-boosting Vitamin D.
Less popular types of fish also provide muscle-building protein. Halibut, snapper, and tilapia contain 26 to 29 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. Eat with a few raw veggies for a before-bed snack.
3. Peanut Butter
Everybody loves peanut butter – and as a bonus, it’s good for you. Natural peanut butter or any nut butter (cashew, almond, hazelnut) has good fats that fight Type 2 diabetes, prevent weight gain and even increase metabolism when eaten in moderation. Two tablespoons of protein have eight grams of protein.
Increase the protein content of a peanut butter snack before bedtime by making a smoothie using whey protein powder. Combine peanut butter (or any nut butter), ice, and whey protein powder in a blender for a nighttime drink with up to 35 grams of protein per shake. You can also add bananas or other ingredients for a different taste and other nutrients.
Eat peanut butter on whole wheat crackers with a soft or hard boiled egg. We usually think of eggs as a breakfast item, but they’re loaded with protein and easy to prepare any time of day. One large egg has 70 calories and contains six grams of protein, along with choline, selenium, biotin, Vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and iodine. Peanut butter on crackers and a large egg will give you 14 grams of protein or more, depending on how many crackers you eat.
Prepare a late-night omelet if you have the energy. An omelet made with two eggs, two egg whites and grass-fed butter has 24 grams of protein and 215 calories. Add a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter instead of crackers for even more protein.
When you don’t have enough time to cook anything before bed, or if you’re on the road, carry a few protein bars with you to eat before you go to sleep. Choose a sugar-free bar that’s relatively low in calories, and stick to one bar per night.
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