Hunger pangs at night are common when you are skipping meals and snacking more. Even those who plan their meals well fail to curb late-night hunger. Midnight snacking can affect your weight and health. Here are the 30 best healthy late night snacks for you that are low in calories and dense in nutrients plus help you sleep better at night. The blog also covers the pros and cons of late-night snacking, food that you should avoid at night, and tips for nighttime snacking. Read on to know how to eat healthily and sleep better.
30 Best Healthy Late Night Snacks
Loaded with protein and melatonin (the sleep-promoting agent), pistachios are one of the healthy late night snacks. Very popular among vegans and vegetarians! 0.5–5 mg of melatonin is all you need to sleep well. 28 grams of shelled pistachio offers around 6.5 mg of melatonin and just 160 calories.
Rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and melatonin, oatmeal always tops the list of healthy late night snacks. Eating oatmeal before bed helps release serotonin – a hormone that stabilizes your mood and promotes sleep. You will only intake about 124 calories by having 175 grams of oatmeal cooked with water. Adding fruit and nuts or raisins will make it more filling and delicious, but increase the calories too.
3. Avocado Toast
Packed with magnesium, potassium, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and more – Avocado toast is a good choice to boost your mood and reduce sleep anxiety before going to bed. One of the healthy late night snacks among the millennials!
Eggs are always on the list of healthy late night snacks. They are easy to cook plus loaded with nutrients, tryptophan, and hunger-satisfying proteins. It is also a natural source of melatonin. Having eggs before bed helps you sleep well, according to the American Sleep Association. The snack is also known for maintaining blood-sugar balance. Only 72 calories are present in one large egg. An amazing bedtime snack isn’t it?
Stovetop popcorn is yummy, light, and filling when garnished with honey, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. With more carbohydrates and fewer calories, popcorn is best to unwind at night. Avoid pre-packaged popcorn containing excess sodium and toxic chemicals like perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). Popcorn is one of the must-have healthy late night snacks, especially for those who often have snacks cravings.
6. Rice Cakes
One of the healthy night snacks that are airy, crunchy, and light. This is the best choice when you are not very hungry but in the mood to snack. Please know that brown rice is healthier. For a satisfying crunch, you can add cheese or nut butter, or a piece of fruit.
7. Protein smoothie
One of the protein-rich healthy late night snacks that are tasty and easy to prepare. Protein smoothies support muscle repair and are highly beneficial for people who exercise regularly. Blend 240 ml of low-fat milk with 110 grams of frozen pineapples and your smoothie is ready.
While pineapple boosts melatonin, low-fat milk is rich in amino acid – tryptophan, that our body needs for making melatonin and serotonin. So, a protein smoothie before bed encourages good sleep. You can have all that in just 160 calories!
What can be quicker, simple, and healthy savory snacks? Edamame, of course. Do you know this is also one of the no-cook late night snacks? Edamame is unripe, green soybeans, which are an excellent source of protein, and tryptophan. Soy isoflavones in soy increase the duration of sleep. You can buy fresh or frozen or dry-roasted edamame. A half-cup of shelled edamame tossed with salt and pepper contains only 150 calories.
9. Goji Berries
Full of antioxidants including carotenoids and a small amount of melatonin, goji berries are one of the simple and healthy late night snacks. According to studies, this nutrient-rich snack improves sleep quality. All that for only about one-fourth cup of tasty goji berries containing 150 calories. You can add it to cereal or trail mix.
10. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a combination of dry fruits, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao), and nuts (almonds, cashews). It offers B vitamins, healthy fats, and minerals. Trail mix is one of the healthy late night snacks. Quick and tasty as well! One-fourth cup of trail mix packs around 173 calories.
11. Whole-Grain Wrap
A whole-grain tortilla topped with dried cranberries or hummus and fresh veggies or chicken breast is one of the healthy bedtime snacks. Both chicken and cranberries help in making melatonin and hummus is a good source of protein. The whole-grain wrap is packed with vitamins and minerals and can strengthen your immune system.
12. Banana With Almond Butter
While almond butter contains plenty of healthy fats, magnesium, and vitamin E, bananas are an excellent source of serotonin (a hormone that makes us happy). One small banana dipped in one tablespoon of almond butter will increase enough blood melatonin levels to give you a good night’s sleep. An excellent option for midnight snacking! Isn’t it?
13. Tart Cherries
Tart cherries are another easy and healthy late night snack that helps you sleep better, according to some small studies. Whether you intake one-third cup of dried tart cherries or 8 ounces of 100% tart cherry juice, it contains around 140 calories and a small amount of melatonin. Have it 1-2 hours before bed to increase your sleep time and sleep efficiency, especially if you are suffering from insomnia.
14. Strawberries and Brie
Fresh strawberries are not just visually appealing but low in calories, high in vitamin C, and contain a significant amount of melatonin. One cup of strawberries and one ounce of brie is within the recommended 200-calorie limit. Altogether, it is a healthy food option for snacking at night! However, it is not safe to consume brie or any other soft cheese during pregnancy.
15. Pumpkin Seeds
Are you looking for healthy late night snacks that are also crunchy and savory? Pumpkin seeds seasoned with a little bit of sea salt and cinnamon, are the best choice! A great source of magnesium and tryptophan, pumpkin seeds easily put you to sleep. Results are better if you eat pumpkin seeds with carbs. Do you know a 1-ounce serving of these seeds contains just has 146 calories?
Low-fat milk and low-sugar cereal will satisfy your hunger. Oat milk will give you a good vitamin boost and minimize saturated fats. Whole-grain cereals are rich in fiber. You can top hot cereal with fruits and nuts. Being a natural source of melatonin, cereal is one of the good bedtime snacks to fall asleep faster.
Power-packed with vitamin C, kiwis are also on the list of healthy snacks before bed. You can eat two kiwis and just consume 93 calories. It’s a natural source of serotonin. So eating late at night can relax you and induce sleep faster. Do you want to curb carb cravings, then kiwi is your go-to snack.
18. Crackers and Cheese
Crackers and cheese combo makes tryptophan easily available to the brain and helps in making more serotonin and melatonin. What more? This outstanding, low-calorie snack maintains your blood sugar levels too. This is one of the healthy late night snacks that offer a balance of proteins and carbs.
A fantastic source of calcium, yogurt is one of the best midnight snack ideas. Calcium is good for bones as well as induces better sleep. Greek yogurt contains a high amount of casein protein, that curbs hunger the next morning. A plain, nonfat yogurt of 6 ounces has only 94 calories.
20. Dark Chocolate
Low sugar and a high amount of antioxidants put dark chocolate on the list of healthy late night snacks. Dark chocolate made of 70% cacao or more is best to curb your midnight craving, according to Dr. Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS, and director of nutrition.
A handful of nuts that packs about 200 calories, is what to eat at night to stop hunger pangs. If you feel too lazy to cook and clean dishes at midnight, nuts are very handy. Almonds and walnuts are rich in sleep-regulating hormones, healthy fats, and proteins. Eating organic nuts help fight inflammation, reduce cravings, aid in weight loss, support blood-sugar level and maintain a healthy heart. Hence, nuts are not cooked and make for good late night snacks.
22. Turkey Sandwich
Turkey with whole-grain bread makes it one of the best late night snacks. It offers complex carbs and is loaded with tryptophan, which increases melatonin, essential for a good night’s sleep.
23. Zucchini Chips
Crispy and tasty zucchini chips are light in calories, sugar, and fat. It is rich in multiple antioxidants, potassium, vitamin A and folate. A healthy alternative to potato chips that makes you feel bloated when you eat them late at night.
24. Roasted Chickpeas
Full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and protein, chickpeas is one of the simple, quicker, and healthy late night snacks. You can bake and season them as you wish. Do you know it is also one of the best late night snacks for weight loss?
25. Tomatoes & Cream Cheese on Toast
This is another healthy option when you don’t know what to eat at night when hungry. Whole-grain toast with calcium-enriched cream and melatonin-rich tomatoes is filling enough to have good sleep at night. This tasty and easy-to-digest snack also fills you with complex carbohydrates.
Salmon and Tuna packed with vitamin D and omega-3 boost serotonin – the sleep-promoting brain chemical. Serotonin is also critical for day-to-day brain functions. This is why fish is always on the chart of healthy late night snacks. It is important for a healthy heart and brain. Eating fish at least twice per week is a part of a healthy diet, according to American Heart Association.
Whether you are non-vegetarian or vegan, tofu is hard to ignore! Studies show that this soy-based protein can relieve sleep disorders. High in calcium and iron and loads of other minerals, tofu is known to protect against heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and many other age and lifestyle-related diseases.
28. No-bake Granola Bars
For sweet cravings at midnight, granola bars are a wonderful choice. It is one of the healthy late night snacks for weight control. It lowers cholesterol but spikes your energy levels. Why not try a granola bar with fried apricot, yogurt, and honey?
29. Apple Chips
Made of apple and cinnamon, apple chips are one of the healthy late night snacks. Consume apple daily because it has cancer-fighting properties and boosts brainpower. Dense in fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, apples are far better than potato chips. Crunchy, tasty, and healthy! Also, best for pregnant women.
Grapes are a natural source of melatonin and are non cook healthy late night snacks. High in vitamin C, K, and antioxidants; it has impressive health benefits. Black grapes are considered to be the healthiest for skin, hair, and heart.
Pros and Cons of Late-Night Snacking
The pros of late night snacking are:
- Promote Good Sleep – snacks like pistachios, eggs, edamame, turkey sandwich are good sources of melatonin and tryptophan. While Melatonin is a sleep-promoting agent, tryptophan relaxes your body and makes you feel drowsy. Eating healthy late night snacks can curb your midnight cravings, help you sleep and feel more refreshed in the morning.
- Improve Your Metabolism – If you are body is starving for a long time, it will start storing fat. Good midnight snacks help you keep your metabolism regular. As well as maintain a healthy weight. That said, feeling hungry regularly and snacking all the time may lead to weight gain.
- Improve Muscle Health – Filling healthy snacks rich in protein such as nuts and cheese help in rebuilding muscle, while you sleep. This is a good practice if you work out daily.
The cons of late night snacking are:
- Hungry vs. Stressed – What if you are not really hungry? What if you are bored or too stressed? Craving late-night food rich in salt is a sign of dehydration. If you keep snacking you may consume more calories and put on weight. So ask yourself, what do you really want? How to meet your body’s energy demands so that you don’t stay awake the whole night.
- Metabolism Is Slow at Night – Due to slow metabolism, your late-night food may not be completely digested. Snacking at the time when your body is prepared to sleep can lead to weight gain.
- High-Calorie Consumption – Late-night snack ideas commonly include food rich in calories. People who are unaware of no cook, healthy late night snacks go for chips, fast food, and anything easily available. Eventually, it can lead to weight gain.
Foods to Avoid at Night
Avoid foods rich in salt, sugar, and fat that are harder to digest. Such as:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
They can delay the onset of sleep and make it harder to stay asleep.
Tips for Night Time Snacking
Here are some tips for nighttime snacking without negative health effects, according to diet and nutrition experts:
1. Maintain a Healthy Eating Schedule
Plan your meals and stick to the schedule. Make sure you eat nothing 2-3 hours before bed, as suggested by Skylar Buchanan (certified Integrative Nutrition Coach and gut health specialist). This practice will encourage good sleep as well as keep you less hungry late at night. Also, maintain a sleep schedule to curb midnight cravings.
2. Eat Balanced Meals
Eating balanced meals including a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day makes you less hungry before bed. So, plan your breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a way that balances your body’s need for protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
3. Engage in Smart Snacking
- Snacks including fresh fruits and vegetables are very nutritious. -They are easily digestible and help you fall asleep at night.
- Make sure calories are not more than 200– Excess calorie intake can lead to weight gain.
- Go for food low in sugar to curb sugar spikes – that disturb your sleep time and efficiency.
- Foods containing protein, fiber, tryptophan, and melatonin are considered healthy snacks at night because they can induce sleep and control appetite.
Eat Healthy, Sleep Better!
Occasional late-night snacking is not harmful if you are consuming low-calorie food else it may lead to weight gain. Healthy midnight snacks like oatmeal, kiwi, eggs, rice cakes, and nuts are rich in essential nutrients and sleep-supportive compounds. They are easy to prepare and delicious. If your hunger pangs are due to stress, try mind and body relaxation techniques like breathing and yoga.
If you are experiencing frequent midnight cravings that are hard to control, then please refer to your doctor immediately.
All the 30 snack ideas suggested above are healthy and support a good night’s rest. When buying food read the label to avoid sugar, fat, and sodium-rich foods.
Anything loaded with nutrients, easy to digest, and low in calories is the best midnight snack. For example, protein smoothies or Pistachios.
Foods that are low in calories, higher in protein or fiber, make you feel full faster, according to Chrissy Arsenault (registered dietitian and nutritionist). So, you will eat less with each snack, which is good for weight loss. Some of them are:
- Hummus and vegetables
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Low-fat cheese
- Fruits and nut butter
- A small bowl of porridge
As per USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, low carb late night snacks are:
- Apples and cheese
- Yogurt and Cucumbers
- Cottage cheese with berries
- Kale chips
- Turkey roll-ups
- Celery with peanut butter
- Hard-boiled egg
- Eat nutritious food throughout the day.
- Eat food high in protein or fiber that will satiate you faster and control your appetite.
- Have enough sleep, because sleep deprivation disturbs hormones regulating appetite.
- Lower your screen time while eating. It promotes binge eating.
- Practice relaxation, because stress causes overeating.
- Distract yourself by doing something you like when you crave for snacks before bed.
- Toasted nuts
- Boiled/scrambled eggs
- Tomatoes & cream cheese on toast
- Tuna and crackers