The classic rules of weight loss diets, as well as most doctors, categorically do not recommend going to bed on a full stomach. This will not only ruin dreams and figure, but can also significantly harm the body: the inability to fall asleep after certain foods leads to sleep disturbances, adversely affecting both physical and mental health.
Healthyinfo explores which foods are definitely worth avoiding in the evening, which ones will help you sleep better, and which snacks can even make you lose weight during sleep.
Sleep food: why does it work?
Of course, we are not talking about trying to eat so much that you will no longer have the strength to get out of bed, and the body will begin to demand maximum energy for digestive processes. We are talking about small portions of foods that will help you fall asleep if you eat them almost in bed, no later than 30 minutes before a date with a pillow.
The magical properties of tryptophan
Studies show that the amino acid tryptophan is involved in the synthesis of the hormone serotonin, which helps improve sleep. Tryptophan deficiency, in turn, provokes a deficiency of serotonin, which disrupts the circadian rhythms of sleep and wakefulness. Solution: Enrich your diet with tryptophan-rich foods such as turkey meat, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans (as well as seafood, nuts, eggs, and milk).
It is also good to add some whole grains to tryptophan-rich meals. Some types of bread, crackers, brown rice, pasta, combined with protein foods (turkey, eggs, low fat dairy products) can be an ideal snack before bedtime. Slow carbohydrates help tryptophan to be better absorbed by the body.
And based on research conducted in 2011, experts recommend adding a piece of kiwi to this combination: the antioxidants contained in it help neurotransmitter regulation. So, a slice of whole grain cracker, fat-free cottage cheese or a slice of turkey and kiwi at night will provide a sound and long sleep.
Melatonin — sleep hormone
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body, also known as the darkness hormone. With its lack, a person experiences problems with falling asleep, sleep duration, often waking up during the night or getting up with the feeling that he had not slept at all. A lack of melatonin also affects mood, can cause chronic fatigue syndrome and accelerate the aging process.
Natural melatonin is the main component of sleeping pills such as Melaxen. However, taking pills can be successfully replaced with delicious snacks. For example, cherry.
Louisiana State University conducted a study involving older people: volunteers suffering from insomnia drank 240 ml of natural cherry juice twice a day. And — slept an average of 85 minutes longer than those who received a placebo. As it turned out, cherry juice and the berries themselves are an excellent source of melatonin. And if the taste of the juice seems too tart, it can be diluted with plain or sparkling water.
Walnuts are almost as rich in melatonin as cherry juice and can be a good replacement. One minus: 8 medium-sized walnuts contain 200 kcal, which must be taken into account for those who are overweight.
Magnesium as a natural relaxant
About 70% of the adult population is deficient in magnesium. Meanwhile, its deficiency causes both insomnia and muscle spasms that can complicate the process of falling asleep. Studies in older adults have shown that regular supplementation of magnesium deficiency not only helps you sleep longer, but also makes you wake up more easily in the morning.
So, what to eat to relax and sleep longer? Lettuce and avocados contain a fairly large amount of magnesium. Almonds are also a good source of this mineral, both the nuts themselves and the oil (one teaspoon of almond oil on a slice of whole grain bread before bed is enough).
Bananas are an excellent choice: these fruits contain not only magnesium, but also a lot of tryptophan, vitamin B6, as well as carbohydrates and potassium. And if you mix in a blender or just eat a banana at night along with low-fat milk, then the body will also receive a combination of vitamin D and calcium. According to data published in the journal Sleep Research, the lack of these substances affects the processes of falling asleep and the duration of sleep. And their replenishment improves these processes by 16% and 17%, respectively.
What You Shouldn’t Eat and Drink Before Bed
The rules of conduct for a long and sound sleep are individual and depend on the individual. However, there are several substances that interfere with almost everyone’s sleep, even if some may disagree.
Yes, there are unique people who fall asleep immediately after a cup of strong coffee. But for most, caffeine in the evening will only help prolong bedtime and contribute to excessive arousal. Moreover, caffeine, which interferes with sleep, is found not only in coffee: tea, chocolate, energy drinks are also rich in this alkaloid.
A cup of tea before bed is a great habit that experts support. Compliance with certain rituals facilitates the transition to sleep, helps to tune the body in the right way. But if you still have problems falling asleep, you should try replacing your usual black or green tea with herbal teas with ginger or a cup of warm milk.
A classic glass of red wine (or a little cognac if you’re nervous) really helps you feel more sleepy and relaxed. So why not?
Because alcohol can cause sleep disturbances, even the popular saying (“an alcoholic’s sleep is short and unsettling”) reflects this. The thing is that it interferes with the cycles of REM sleep, during which a person usually sees dreams and rests. And since the main function of sleep is precisely rest and recuperation, it turns out that alcohol, plunging the body into a sleepy state, at the same time prevents it from recovering.
High fat meals
We are talking about the very fatty food at night, which is opposed by both nutritionists and gastroenterologists. Somnologists, experts who study sleep, also warn that fats interfere with sleep duration and can wake up a lover of fried foods, chips or ice cream at dawn.
What would you eat to lose weight?
Of course, we are not talking about a full meal. However, the rule “no food after 8 pm” is not related to time, it limits the total calorie content of the daily diet. Therefore, it is not so important what time a person eats, it is important what exactly he decided to eat before going to bed.
Research from the Netherlands will please those who are watching the figure and trying to build muscle mass: 40 g of casein (for example, from low-fat dairy products) ingested 30 minutes before bedtime increases protein synthesis in muscles. True, the effect applies only to those who do not neglect sports and physical activity.
Protein supplements (27.5 g of protein, 15 g of carbohydrates, 0.1 g of fat) have the same effect. Taken at bedtime for 12 weeks, they resulted in increased muscle mass compared to placebo.
Of course, we are talking about nutritional supplements and people involved in sports for health or to lose weight. However, research data confirms that if a person eats sensibly during the day, there is no reason to go to bed on an empty stomach. Some foods will help you fall asleep, others will help you sleep longer, and even, according to experts, wake up without the brutal desire to eat anything harmful.