Some people have perfect control over their diet and never give in to cravings after dinner. However, if you're reading this, you're probably in the late-night-snacker club. And that's okay! Snacking late at night isn't always a great decision for your waistline, but there are some delicious workaround options.
Research shows that snacks under 200 calories shouldn’t hurt your diet, so the first key is to keep them small. Second, you want something low in sugar and high in sleep-inducing components like serotonin and melatonin. So a big bowl of ice cream is out, but we think you'll enjoy these tasty, healthy snacks just as much!
Banana with Almond or Peanut Butter
This delicious combo is a classic! Bananas are high in serotonin, which your body converts to melatonin, your sleep hormone. To keep your snack calorie-friendly, measure out 1 tablespoon of your nut-butter choice to go with your banana, then enjoy! OR, ramp up your snack a notch by creating healthy ice cream from those two ingredients!
A warm bowl of oatmeal isn't just for early mornings. Try it at night for a soothing snack that doesn't mess with your sleep cycle. The carbs in oatmeal break down slowly and actually work with your serotonin release to help you calm down for bedtime. Feel free to add fruits and nuts for a guilt-free treat! Or just prep a cup of Mylk Labs oatmeal and enjoy!
Instead of ice cream, opt for a creamy fruit smoothie packed with protein and vitamins. For a single serving, blend 8 ounces of milk with 2/3 cups of frozen fruit. It'll leave you full and feeling like you splurged just a bit without the ill-timed sugar rush.
Skip the microwave popcorn and grab a jar of kernels for a low-calorie treat that still feels indulgent. Add a little oil to a pot, follow the directions to pop your own kernels, and then season them yourself. 3 cups of popcorn (minus the butter) only have about 100 calories, so you have room to add some tasty toppings like salt or popcorn seasoning.
Sleepy-Time Cottage Cheese
If your primary night-time concern is eating a snack that helps you sleep, give cottage cheese a try. Here's why: cottage cheese has lean protein that supports your serotonin production, which, as previously mentioned, turns to melatonin. But better yet, the ingredients in cottage cheese break down slowly, leaving you satisfied for longer, which can help with weight loss! Add an extra dose of sleep boosters to your cottage cheese with a handful of raspberries, tart cherries, or almonds, which all contain actual melatonin.
Whole-Grain Crackers and Cheese
Give yourself a balanced dose of carbs and protein with a measured portion of crackers and cheese. You won't get any blood sugar spikes to mess up your sleep cycle, plus both crackers and cheese boost serotonin and melatonin. Just be careful not to binge, and try to limit yourself to 4 or 5 crackers and about 2 tablespoons of cheese.
½ PB&J Sandwich
For a sweet and salty treat, fix yourself a half PB&J sandwich (sorry, no full-size treats on this one)! Use whole-wheat bread and measure out 1 tablespoon each of peanut butter and jelly to keep under your calorie count.
Buy a bag of trail mix or make your own unique blend to keep on hand for a guilt-free and high-protein snack. However, trail mix can be very high in calories, so you'll need to watch your portions at night. Do yourself a favor and pre-portion your trail mix into baggies with a ¼-cup serving to keep it easy to grab and under 200 calories.
Now we're talking! Curb those cravings with a low-calorie snack that's extra satisfying. Preheat a whole-grain tortilla and spread 1 tablespoon of fat-free mayonnaise on it. Top it off with some leafy greens, dried cranberries, and rotisserie chicken, and enjoy!
Turkey Lettuce Wrap
Skip the tortilla to make room for more yummy ingredients with a lettuce wrap. Turkey is full of tryptophan—a sleep-supporting chemical—so you'll be satisfied and ready to sleep in no time. To make one, layer a few iceberg lettuce leaves on top of one another and spread 1 tablespoon of mustard on top. Add 3 pieces of deli turkey, then top that off with a couple of tomato and red onion slices. Finally, roll up your wrap as tightly as possible and wrap it in parchment paper to protect the ends.
If you've never tried goji berries, now's your chance! These delicious berries are linked to anti-aging and are high in melatonin! Measure out 1/3 cup of these tart and sweet berries for a snack that's exactly 200 calories.
If you keep avocados on hand, try it as a "butter" on toast for a late-night treat that's full of healthy fats, potassium, and fiber. Toast your bread (whole-grain is best), mash up ¼ of an avocado, and sprinkle in some sea salt, cracked pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread your avocado on your toast and get munching!
Veggies and Dip
For the extra health-conscious, try a classic combo of low-starch veggies (think celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, or peppers) paired with a low-calorie dip. Avoid ranch and opt for something like hummus, a tzatziki sauce, or a homemade spinach dip!
Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
Who doesn't love a good parfait? Not only are they delicious and packed with nutrients, but they're so easy to make! Just chop up some of your favorite fresh fruit, layer it with plain yogurt, and sprinkle some granola or nuts on top for another healthy snack that tastes like a cheat-treat. Bonus: yogurt is full of calcium, which promotes that important tryptophan and melatonin production for a good night's rest!
Homemade Apple Chips
At about 65 calories per serving, apple chips are delicious and the perfect keep-on-hand snack for when you want something crunchy. All you need are fresh apples, cinnamon, and an oven to prep this super-easy treat. Plus, they'll stay fresh for up to a week, so you can make your weekly batch all at once!