As a fitness coach, I often get questions about fat-burning foods, and some of my clients are particularly interested in those that help burn fat as they sleep.
Many people aren't aware that such a thing as food for nighttime fat burning exists.
So, I decided to gather what I know and go through the scientific literature on the subject and, finally, discuss everything with a dietician to provide you with a comprehensive report on the foods that burn fat while you sleep.
Let's dive in.
- Foods like Greek yogurt, cherries, nuts, oatmeal, coconut, and turkey can help you burn fat as you sleep.
- Getting at least seven hours of sleep is vital for weight loss.
- Avoid sugary drinks and snacks at night if you want to burn fat in your sleep.
Are There Foods That Actually Burn Calories While You Sleep?
Yes, there are foods that can indirectly help you burn calories while you sleep, such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, almonds, walnuts, and other low-calorie foods.
For a long time, people believed that consuming anything after dinner leads to fat accumulation, especially around the belly.
However, recent studies have debunked this notion.
“Occasional late-night snacks are not usually an issue if someone chooses healthy foods”
- Louisa Richards, Registered Nutritionist
One study found that consuming a 150-calorie snack aids in nighttime muscle protein synthesis and resting metabolism, with both having benefits in terms of weight loss .
Of course, binge eating and consuming calorie-laden foods will result in the opposite. If you do that before hitting the sack, you’ll surely add more weight.
But if you consume the fat-burning foods mentioned below, in moderation and ideally on a calorie deficit, it may help you burn fat more effectively in the long run.
Let’s explore these.
11 Foods That Help Nighttime Fat Loss
Now, before getting into this list of foods that burn fat while you sleep, it's worth noting that they fall mainly into three major categories:
- Foods that support muscle building
- Those that help you fall asleep faster
- Foods that promote satiety or the feeling of fullness to avoid late-night snacking
Most foods mentioned here can help you lose weight at night in one of these three ways.
With that out of the way, let's begin.
1. Greek Yogurt
Scientists labeled Greek yogurt as a food with very low sugar and high protein content .
The high protein content makes this yogurt one of the go-to snacks that help in muscle building when sleeping, especially if taken after a resistance training workout .
Other benefits of natural yogurt that help in losing weight include:
- Reduced appetite
- A boost in metabolism
- Low blood pressure
- Improved gut health
These benefits make natural yogurt a great addition if you want to lose belly fat.
Additional studies confirm that consuming proteins before sleep triggers nighttime protein synthesis that helps repair and grow muscles .
Cherries might satisfy your dinner-time sweet tooth, but they are much more than that; they can help you get the seven hours of sleep optimal for muscle repair and weight loss.
Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that adults who consumed cherries noticed improved sleep duration and enjoyed quality sleep .
Part of the reason why cherries help in sleep efficiency is the presence of melatonin .
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It also plays a role in the day and night sleep-wake cycle .
In fact, melatonin is given as a hormone supplement to people with sleep disorders such as insomnia and jet lag to help them sleep .
Nuts have been hailed as perfect pre-bedtime snacks because they contain healthy fat and proteins that can aid in ending late-night hunger.
Examples of nuts that can help with this include:
- Cashew nuts
Let’s explore in a bit more detail why nuts are good for nighttime weight loss:
- Hazelnuts, almonds, and most nuts contain healthy fats, particularly poly and monounsaturated fats, that the scientific community asserts do not encourage abdominal fat storage .
- The presence of healthy fats and high protein content in walnuts and peanuts supports the feeling of fullness. This aids in preventing hunger by keeping you more satiated at night time .
- Most nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, contain melatonin which helps you get a goodnight’s sleep. Getting the recommended seven hours is beneficial for weight loss and also helps to keep the hunger hormones in check .
- Some nuts, like walnuts, have been found to support calorie burning by supporting fat oxidation and increasing energy expenditure when taken a few hours before sleep. This helps prevent the conversion of food into fat .
Related: Recommended Nuts for Weight Loss
4. Protein Shake
Protein shakes are good for weight loss because a scoop of protein powder after an evening workout can help you build muscle as you sleep.
Researchers found that protein ingestion before bed stimulates muscle protein synthesis, which allows for muscle hypertrophy during post-exercise overnight recovery. .
And as you well know, muscle is key in burning more body fat.
Note that this benefit is pegged on proper exercise and nutrition in addition to protein supplementation.
5. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a favorite among athletes and people looking to lose weight .
Besides aiding in fat burning, other benefits include:
- Bone health
- Blood pressure regulation
- Cancer prevention
Cottage cheese contains components that help different aspects of weight loss. For instance, it is rich in tryptophan .
Tryptophan is an amino acid that plays a role in melatonin production, the aforementioned hormone that regulates sleep patterns .
Not only is melatonin good for sleep, but it also aids in regulating hunger .
Protein is another component present in this cheese, a macronutrient that not only aids in muscle building but also promotes the feeling of fullness .
Now, because of the high sodium content, moderation is recommended.
In addition, the meal is also a good source of magnesium .
Studies have proven that magnesium improves sleep time and sleep efficiency .
For the best result, avoid sweetening it with sugar. And if you must sweeten it, use cherries or fresh berries.
Obviously, you shouldn't take it with high carbs as it can lead to more blood sugar which can ruin your sleep.
If you must supplement it with another meal, take it with other foods that help burn fat while you sleep, such as a protein powder or nuts.
A sliced turkey roll is yet another excellent food choice to kill bedtime hunger when you need to be cautious about your weight.
Turkey is particularly a great source of protein . It is also high in the amino acid tryptophan, which produces sleep-friendly hormones such as serotonin and melatonin.
For the best results, use fat-free ground turkey, which has fewer calories and higher protein content .
8. Whole Grains
These complex carbohydrates are rich in nutrients that might help improve insulin sensitivity.
They also prevent blood sugar spikes by slowing the absorption of food .
As you can tell from their fiber content, they also promote satiety.
Below are a few examples:
- Whole oats/oatmeal
- Brown rice
- Whole rye
They also promote bowel health and support the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon . Other benefits include heart health and cancer prevention.
Because they are still high in carbs, intake moderation is advised.
9. Cinnamon Tea
Cinnamon tea can be a great addition to your basket of foods that aid in sleep fat loss.
Nutrition experts have fronted this spicy food as an excellent nutrient for those looking to lose belly fat.
In fact, in a 2012 trial, Japanese scientists found that cinnamon can help reduce visceral fat (abdominal fat) .
Besides helping you lose belly fat, it also has loads of additional health benefits .
- Blood sugar control
- Blood pressure regulation
- Antioxidative properties that ease inflammation
- Aids in the removal of excess cholesterol in the blood
In addition, drinking cinnamon tea before bed suppresses your appetite and is a great way to curb night snacking .
The Indian staple is also synonymous with boosting metabolism and helping in the digestion of food taken during the day.
“Your body uses more energy to process cinnamon than it does for other foods.” - Rania Batayneh, Nutrition Author
All these properties make cinnamon a great drink to aid in nighttime fat-burning. However, some experts advise practicing moderation by not exceeding one teaspoon of cinnamon a day for adults.
10. Green Tea
Green tea is rich in nutrients and antioxidant properties with massive weight loss benefits, but we’ll get into those in more detail shortly .
Some of the additional advantages of this popular drink include the following:
- Cancer prevention
- Heart health
- Cholesterol regulation
- Memory boost
- Skin health
Regarding green tea’s ability to support fat burning, studies have found that the drink contains catechins and caffeine, which play a role in energy metabolism and appetite suppression, both important for weight loss .
A 2008 study additionally found that obese patients who consumed green tea shed extra 3.3 kgs (7.3 pounds) of body weight and burned more calories daily over 12 weeks than those who did not .
The impact of green tea on losing weight may not be as significant compared to working out alone. But when used alongside a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise, it has greater metabolic benefits.
A glass of warm milk may seem like an overindulgence, but it is one of the recommended drinks to lose weight overnight and it is actually good for efficient sleep, thanks to its protein and tryptophan content.
As we saw earlier, tryptophan contributes to the production of melatonin which can help you get the recommended hours of sleep for ideal weight loss.
Scientists have also found that calcium supplementation can help diabetic patients shed fat .
For optimal results, use milk with lower fat content.
6 Tips to Burn More Before During the Night
In addition to healthy eating before sleep, there are habits you can add to your daily routine to ensure you burn more fat as you sleep. The first step is ensuring you get at least seven hours of high-quality sleep.
Below are six other measures you can take to burn more as you sleep.
1. Avoid Sugary Drinks
Obviously, you don't want to add more calories to your diet, especially when going to bed. Sugary drinks can spike your blood sugar and cause you to feel hungry sooner .
Additional research also shows that energy and sugar-sweetened drinks contribute to poor sleep .
So it's better to avoid sugary drinks altogether.
2. Make Your Room Dark
Light before bedtime can negatively affect your health. One study showed that exposure to excessive light before bed increased the risk of women developing breast cancer by 22% .
Another study linked bedtime light to depression, which often leads to overeating and inactivity, resulting in added pounds .
Sleeping in total darkness stimulates the release of the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep, blood pressure, and the stress hormone cortisol .
Melatonin also aids in the production of brown fat, a key component in metabolizing calories .
3. Stay Hydrated
The colder the water, the more calories your body burns to get the water to reach normal body temperatures, thus boosting your metabolism.
Water can also help control the appetite, as it may contribute to the feeling of fullness.
4. Let in the Cold
In addition to gulping glasses of ice-cold water, sleeping in relatively cooler temperatures can help you attack fat while sleeping. Specifically, it enhances the efficiency of brown fat .
In case you’re wondering, brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue, turns on when you’re cold to produce heat and maintain body temperature.
This hypothesis was tested by scientists who subjected participants to bedrooms of varying temperatures for four weeks.
Participants in lower temperatures had doubled their brown fat volumes, meaning they had lost weight .
5. Stay Off Electronics
The use of electronics before bed has been linked to increased obesity, especially among children .
The same study found that electronics before bed were associated with shortened sleep, poor diet, excess body weight, and low activity levels.
Hence, to promote quality sleep for weight loss, it's wise to keep off electronics from the bedroom entirely.
6. Resistance training
Since burning fat long-term is about boosting metabolism, resistance training sessions can help achieve this purpose.
In addition to enabling the increase of calorie-hungry muscle mass, studies show that resistance training exercises can help improve sleep efficiency and fight anxiety and depression .
You don't have to push too hard for it to be effective: consistency is the key.
Will Sleeping Hungry Help You Lose Weight?
No, sleeping when you’re very hungry will not help you lose weight. It keeps you from getting a good night's sleep which can lead to sleep deprivation and weight gain .
However, don't hit the sack completely stuffed; almonds and oats can help keep your stomach full.
What Foods Should I Avoid Eating Before Bed for Weight Loss?
For optimal weight loss before bed, avoid big meals, coffee, and alcohol. Foods like pizza, ketchup, cheese, ice cream, french fries, and carbonated drinks can also jeopardize your weight loss ambitions.
Eating Right for Sleep Quality and Nighttime Fat-Burning
Oatmeal, nuts, and turkey can help in nighttime fat burning while keeping you full to avoid those evening hunger pangs.
But you also need to sleep adequately, exercise regularly, and incorporate a balanced diet to see significant changes in your weight.
For faster results, I’d advise you to consider adding a fat burner to the mix:
We’ve thoroughly tested all the products on these lists, and both our testing data and client feedback reports show they are effective in fast-tracking weight loss and making the process noticeably easier.
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