The Healthiest Late-Night Snacks, According to Experts
If you’ve been counting sheep to the tune of a grumbling stomach, it may be time for a late-night snack. But wait—aren’t we always told to avoid eating late at night? Well, yes, but it is possible to do it in a healthy way. Here’s how: Reach for these 5 nutritious late-night snacks, as recommended by dietitians.
Why limit eggs to the a.m.? As a high-protein food, eggs are excellent for taming a growling stomach. They also contain melatonin, a.k.a. the hormone that regulates sleep, according to Taylor Fazio, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, Wellory Nutrition Coach. (Oh, and get this: Eggs have every vitamin except vitamin C, according to a 2019 article.) Go for hard-boiled eggs instead of fried, as the greasiness of the latter might mess with your sleep.
Banana with nut butter
“Nut butter is rich in protein, healthy fats, and melatonin,” says registered dietitian Alexandra Larson, M.S., R.D.N., L.D. Pair it with a fiber-rich banana, and you'll be ready to curb those nighttime munchies, she says. Make peanut butter-banana spirals—or tap into your inner child and enjoy the combo as a sandwich.
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“Dip” into a good night’s rest by snacking on hummus. According to a 2018 article in the International Journal of Tryptophan Research, chickpeas (which form the base of hummus) are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that turns into melatonin. For a nutritious nighttime treat, Larson recommends pairing hummus with fiber-rich foods like whole grain crackers or veggies such as carrots, cucumber, and zucchini.
When it comes to late-night snacks, you can't beat tart cherries, which are typically redder than the sweet kind. According to Amanda Kostro Miller, R.D., L.D.N., registered dietitian at Fitness Edge, the carbs in cherries can boost your blood sugar enough to lull you to sleep. (Low blood sugar due to hunger can actually disrupt your sleep, she says.) Plus, cherries are packed with antioxidants like vitamins C and E, according to a 2018 article in the journal Nutrients.
Step away from the ice cream! Instead, grab some yogurt, as it “offers magnesium and calcium, which [help] the body relax,” notes Larson. You’ll also get a dose of probiotics, or “good” bacteria that benefit your gut. Skip the sugary flavored kind and opt for plain versions, then add your own toppings (like bananas or tart cherries).