Have you ever smuggled any sweet or a snack from the refrigerator at mid night?
Well if you have then you aren’t alone. Many recent studies have shown that most of the people develop midnight cravings. This is because human sugar cravings peak around midnight.
But have you ever wondered why? Well, science is again there to play its role. The mid-night craving develops because cortisol (a hormone that control blood sugar levels and metabolism) levels usually push the liver to release glucose at night when we sleep, as we need energy during night when we do not eat. Usually the level of cortisol present in our body is just enough to achieve this. But when we get up or remain awake for any reason at night, a surge in cortisol occurs, that might drive the hunger pangs.
Ghrelin is the hormone that causes you to feel hungry, it is the hormone that regulates hunger and satiety while the hormone leptin tells you that you are full. In case of imbalanced hormone levels due to certain physiological conditions, the normal signals get skewed and then you find yourself craving for sugar, fat and salt.
Leptin is an appetite controlling hormone, many studies have shown that the levels of leptin is least at night because of exhaustion. And the lack of this hormone may trigger craving for calorie rich food. Certain studies also suggests that the areas of the brain important for self-control is weak at night and this may also results in sleepless nights and midnight cravings.
One of the other factor that can give rise to mid-night hunger is the power of advertisements. This can have a strong affect as well as if you watch television littered with commercials for food before bed. Also maybe you ate dinner early or you stayed up late and now you are hungry again.
Avoiding late night hunger can keep you awake longer, leaving you exhausted the following day. But giving in to late night hunger cravings on a regular basis may result in weight gain, interrupted metabolism or improper digestion.
Reasons, why people experience these mid-night cravings?
- Low levels of hunger in the morning,
- Excessive hunger in the evening,
- Initial insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
- Obesity: As a person’s weight increases, so does the hunger pangs.
- Psychological Disturbance: Stress, Need for comfort, Emotions such as anxiety, depression and frustration.
These patterns result in food intake being low during the earlier hours of the day, then much higher during the later hours of the day, which interferes with sleep.
So, why not make mid- night snacking easy and healthy? When it comes to midnight eating, snacks should be relatively low in calorie and a combination of protein and complex carbs. A complex carb can release neurotransmitters that aid in sleep while a little protein can help with satiety until breakfast.
- Cereal: Whole grain cereal with milk without sugar is a perfect combination of protein and carb and is an excellent snack for mid-night craving.
- Breads: A brown bread toast with peanut butter or just toast and nuts can also be a great mid-night snack.
- Fruit: Fruits are the natural sweet snack that will help control the night hunger such as apple, guava, watermelon. It can also be taken in combination with yogurt.
- Greek yogurt: Plain yogurt with fresh fruits or nuts can be taken.
- Protein: Some other protein options can be Cottage cheese cubes, boiled eggs.
- Popcorn: Ditch added oils and salty popcorn for a low calorie snack, full of insoluble fiber.
- Oatmeal: Soothe you back to sleep. Can also be topped with nuts.
It’s nothing like you can’t digest the food that you eat right before bed but yes for sure your metabolic rate slows down a bit, but it doesn’t stop. When it comes to weight management, it’s better to eat your dinner early. And a reasonable snack that satisfies your hunger before bed
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