Late night snacking: Good or bad?

These facts will make you think twice before heading down to the refrigerator


Aamir Khan January 13, 2015

It might be difficult to avoid those midnight cravings but these facts will make you think twice before heading down to the refrigerator

The solution?

Late night snacking is probably one of the most common and hardest habits to break. In fact, consuming a copious amount of food — regardless of what it might be — post 8pm can be extremely detrimental to our health.

Unfortunately, most of us — especially the youngsters — are at our peaks in the wee hours of the night. We spend the days looking forward to curling up in bed with our laptops and a midnight snack, catching up on our favourite TV shows and eventually, falling asleep like that. Did you know that this kind of lifestyle can kill you?

More snacks, more weight: Those chips or sandwiches you munched on late last night might be the reason you haven’t been able to hit your target weight yet. According to an article published in The Atlantic, researchers have found that the ‘body’s internal clock regulates calorie expenditure very differently at night, vs. the day.’ Simply put, the food that we consume during the day is broken down and digested much faster as we are more active than at night. Food consumed later in the day is digested slower and stored as fat.

Diabetes and obesity: A study published in the Journal Current Biology states that the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar throughout the day is different at night  and if our biological clock is disrupted, metabolism is too.

Lack of sleep: Many foods in the typical midnight menu (coffee, ice creams and processed meats and pizzas, etc) are rich in caffeine and sugars which affect our blood sugar levels directly. More often than not, these substances are absorbed into the blood stream and heighten our body temperature, making us alert and mentally active. A person in such a state is unlikely to fall asleep peacefully as their body is still in motion.

Fortunately, there are ways around this habit. Everyone needs some binge eating to unwind after a long, tiresome day but we can work around it by replacing junk food with healthy foods to keep tabs on your weight. Most of us eat uncontrollably, unaware of how many portions we are consuming while watching TV.
Check out our list of five food items that you should avoid after sundown:

•  Chocolate: We all know that chocolate is rich in fat and caffeine. What’s more, it contains a lesser-known stimulant called theobromine as well. Chocolate causes our sugar levels to spike almost instantly so it should be left in the refrigerator.

•  Cheese: Feta and mozzarella cheese — considered to be softer types of cheeses — are in fact, fatty foods that will accumulate as fat deposits around your waist. So, no more pizza munching after 8pm!

•  Nuts: Many of us might consider nuts healthy but they contain unsaturated fats and are therefore, a no-no before bed time. Cashews, walnuts, macadamias and peanuts are the worst, while pistachios and almonds aren’t quite so bad.

•  Citrus: Eating right before bed is recipe for gaining weight and sleeping poorly which result in indigestion and heartburn. According to an article published in Women’s Health Magazine, having citrus foods in particular results in sore throats or chronic coughs. Oranges and green apples are highly acidic — their nighttime consumption is harmful, regardless of whether they are taken in solid or liquid form.

•  Coffee: Not only is coffee acidic but caffeine also generates additional stomach acid. Therefore, it is advisable to steer clear of coffee unless you wish to stay up late to study or work.

Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, January 11th, 2015.

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