It’s late into the night and you’re hungry. You run to the pantry and grab the first thing you see, healthy or not.
What you need to do is grab a small, nutrient-rich snack under 200 calories and you won’t tip the scale. Some snacks even contain compounds that may help you sleep better.
Here are some healthy late-night snacks and snack ideas:
Banana With Almond Butter – One small banana dipped in a tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter is a great, 165-calorie snack that may even help you sleep (1). Bananas are one of the few fruits known to be relatively rich in the nerve transmitter serotonin, some of which your body converts to melatonin. Almonds and almond butter supply some melatonin as well. Plus, they’re a good source of healthy fats, vitamin E and magnesium (2).
Kiwis – This sweet-tart fruit is nutritious and healthy. Two peeled kiwis pack only 93 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 190% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C (3). Kiwis are one of few fruits containing a good amount of the nerve transmitter serotonin, which has a relaxing effect and can help you fall asleep faster. Serotonin also helps curb carb cravings (4).
Protein Smoothie – Eating a protein-rich snack before bed could support muscle repair and help slow down age-related muscle loss, particularly if you exercise routinely (5). Smoothies are an easy and tasty way to sneak in protein-rich milk before bed. Milk is rich in tryptophan. Your body uses this amino acid to make both serotonin and melatonin, which aid sleep (6).
Goji Berries – The red-orange color of these sweet-tart berries hints at their rich supply of antioxidants, including carotenoids. Goji berries also contain a bit of melatonin, which may help you sleep (7).
Hot Cereal – Hot cereal isn’t just for breakfast. It’s also a great way to wind down at night. Hot, whole-grain cereals like oatmeal are good sources of fiber. Plus, they’re generally a healthier choice than cold, more refined products. You can also add toppings like cinnamon, nuts or dried fruit.
Trail Mix – You can buy trail mix pre-made or purchase your favorite ingredients individually and make your own. Dried fruits, nuts and seeds are typical healthy choices. Mix them together and pre-portion into snack-sized bags or reusable tubs.
Yogurt – Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium. Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is also rich in protein, particularly casein. Casein protein at night may help reduce hunger the next morning (8). If yogurt is your snack of choice, opt for plain and flavor it with unsweetened fruit, such as berries or peaches.
Edamame – Edamame, which are green soybeans, can be tossed fresh or steamed, with a bit of salt and pepper. You can serve them in their shells, and you don’t even need to cook them. Edamame is a good source of protein, which includes a notable amount of the amino acid tryptophan (9).
Strawberries – If you’re looking for a large snack serving that doesn’t pack a lot of calories, reach for fresh strawberries. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and contain a notable amount of melatonin (10).
The most important thing is to keep healthy snacks on hand that you enjoy. You’ll be less tempted to run to the convenience store or hit the nearest fast-food joint for an unhealthy, high-calorie snack before bed if you have healthy alternatives on the shelf in your pantry or refrigerator.