Night time eating – what should you be having?!

Have you heard of the tale of you can’t eat carbs past 8pm or eat anything late at night because it will make you gain weight because you are inactive and you won’t burn off the calories? In reality it isn’t that simple and it can be somewhat true but also completely wrong at the same time.

It all comes down to the type of meal you have and also whether you have exercised or not!

Night time meals usually consist of a large portion of meat (beef/chicken/pork/fish and a carbohydrate (pasta/rice/couscous/quinoa/potato/sweet potato/bread etc) and only a couple vegetables. This type of meal if you have been sedentary all day and then again come home and are even more sedentary at night usually sitting in front of the TV  just before you go to bed will more likely see weight gain. At this time in the evening, you don’t really require a high level of thinking, or energy to get through the rest of the evening, so sticking with vegies and maybe a small piece of potato/sweet potato is all you need! Remember anything outside of the portion size you need at one time will be stored as fat.  So in this case for a sedentary person, large volumes of pasta, rice, quinoa, cous cous, potato or sweet potato will be too much carbohydrate at night time and most likely will lead to weight gain. However, if you have a more active job, then more carbohydrates at dinner are required!

For the next case, which is for those who exercise at night time, require more carbohydrate at their dinner. Some may not get home from training until 8-10pm at night. Muscle mass will have been damaged, glycogen stores (energy stores) will have been used up. If these muscles and energy stores are not fed properly then recovery will be poor, muscle mass gain is highly unlikely. So depending upon the type of exercise and duration you do, ensure you refuel your body – it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, nutrition for your muscles is of high importance! Well that is if you want to get stronger, more agile or just feel better in general! J

So now that I have broken down night time eating, there is something else I want to discuss called casein. Casein is a slow releasing protein found in dairy products. The reason why it is called a slow protein is because it generally forms a solid in the stomach more slowly and in a time released fashion.  The body stays in an anabolic (muscle building state) overnight.  At night, testosterone (a muscle building hormone) is naturally elevated, so taking advantage of this by consuming a slowly digested carbohydrate and protein is a great option. For example, low fat/skim milk and milo, greek yoghurt and berries or with protein powder. If you find you bloat or have wind from dairy products, try lactose free products and see if it disappears. Black swan yoghurt is great. I use liddels or zymil lactose free milk! Try it out!!

Not only will this help for muscle mass growth, but also if you train early morning, the small hit of carbs can help with performance in the morning.

So in reality eating at night is a win for muscle building! Don’t be afraid to eat J just learn the best ones to have!