There’s a few different approaches floating around when it comes to what to eat (and if, at all) before bed. Some people swear by intermittent fasting, whilst others couldn’t imagine a night without enjoying something sweet after dinner.
Then there’s the fact that late night snacking could indicate that you’re not eating enough during the day (or not enough of the right foods) which could leave you feeling peckish as the night goes on.
Well, as this new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests, it is okay to eat before going to sleep—in fact, it can even help you shed a few kgs.
The food in question? Cottage cheese.
Yep! One main reason for this is that cottage cheese contains the protein, casein, which offers a slow, steady release of amino acids throughout the night—ultimately assisting with muscle repair and growth.
The study, carried out by researchers from Florida State University, involved examining 10 active young women in their 20s. These women were given two tablespoons (30g) of cottage cheese two hours after dinner and about 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed. Researchers then measured their resting energy expenditure (the amount of energy used whilst asleep) upon awakening between 5 and 8am. What they found was an improved ability to burn energy (ie. a faster metabolism which leads to weight loss).
This study also suggests that consuming real, whole foods opposed to supplements such as protein shakes was just as effective on improving the metabolic rate of the participants who were given a casein-filled shake just before sleeping.
“Until now, we presumed whole foods would act similarly to the data on supplemental protein, but we had no real evidence,” explained nutritionist Professor Michael Ormsbee, from Florida State University.
“This is important because it adds to the body of literature that indicates whole foods work just as well as protein supplementation, and it gives people options for pre-sleep nutrition that go beyond powders and shaker bottles.”
“While protein supplements absolutely have their place, it is important to begin pooling data for foods and understanding the role they can play in these situations,” adds Samantha Leyh, research contributor and now research dietitian with the US Air Force. Click here to find out exactly what to eat in a day for the best sleep of your life!