Late-night snacking doesn't need to be an alarming thought if you understand how it affects you. Ideally, snacking won't be an issue if you're not awake throughout the night.
However, there are times when you'll want to indulge in snacks, and that's okay. You need to give your body what it needs, which means giving in to your cravings once in a while.
How does late-night snacking affect you?
So, our bodies run on a circadian clock. This means that it's smart enough to know when to sleep, eat, work, and rest. Our bodies accumulate this information with the surrounding light or eating pattern. This daily environment allows our bodies to figure out their clock.
When this environment changes, the body reacts differently.
For example, your body knows it's time to eat when exposed to light because of daytime. However, when you expose it to light during the night, it believes it's time to eat, making you hungry. This is when late-night snacking comes in.
Now, there isn't any issue with snacking in itself. But usually, you will have consumed daily calories by this time. Hence, anything else you eat will add to your calorie intake and throw you off your diet.
But a one-day change doesn't mean all your efforts have gone to waste. It becomes a problem when it becomes a habit.
Additionally, it's ideal to consume food within a 12-hour window. Keeping this in mind, late-night snacking isn't recommended as a health precaution.
If you absolutely want to indulge in late-night snacking, you should try to find nutritious snacks such as low-calorie snacks, dry fruits, nuts, and others. This will help you add nutritional value rather than just filling your system with extra calories.
Finally, you must remember that your body will react differently to food consumed at the beginning of the day and late at night. When you eat early in the day, the body uses that food to generate the energy required throughout the day, such as at work, college, gym, or even daily chores. But snacks consumed late at night aren't essentially used by the body to generate energy because it doesn't need additional power to do much at that point.
Since your metabolic rate is low, the calories from late-night snacking will be stored rather than burned.
What can you do to avoid late-night snacking?
There are quite a few things you can do to avoid this, and here they are.
Don't skip meals
One of the reasons you can feel quite hungry past your dinner is because your body hasn't been fed enough. If you skip meals, you're reducing blood sugar levels. This makes your body want to balance the levels and crave food, and eventually, you will give in and indulge in late-night snacking.
Hit your macronutrients
When your diet consists of a balance between protein, fat, and carbohydrates, it is easier to avoid snacking late at night. This is because your body receives well-balanced nutrition, which allows it to put off any form of snacking since there's no gap in nutrition.
Focus on why you're eating
If you're starving and put together a quick snack bowl, that's one thing. But if you indulge in snacking late at night because you're bored, that's another thing.
You need to consciously say a no to yourself if the only reason you're snacking is that you're bored. This will help you avoid quite a bit of snacking and consuming unnecessary calories.
Late-night snacking for one night will not destroy your efforts at the gym or with your diet. You should allow yourself to snack once in a while. Constantly restricting yourself will diminish your mental health and happiness.
But don't make a habit out of it because it will disrupt your diet, workout routine, and ultimately your fitness goals!