As a practicing physician, I frequently receive inquiries about foods that promote fat metabolism, and many of my patients express specific interest in those that can facilitate fat burning even during 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.
- Personally, blending oatmeal, cherries, and nuts with a protein powder into my diet has made mornings feel more refreshing and invigorating.
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
Greek yogurt has been a staple in my diet for years. I especially love to take it after a late-night workout to prevent morning muscle soreness. I just love how energized and refreshed I feel the next morning.
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 .
Therefore, including plain Greek yogurt in your post-dinner recipe can help you to lose weight while you sleep by increasing protein synthesis and raising your metabolic rate.
If you have a sweet tooth like me, cherries are among the meals that you should consider incorporating into your routine. Not only does it satisfy my cravings, but It helps me sleep better, which is crucial for my muscle repair and weight loss.
In addition to their sleep-inducing properties, these compounds' antioxidant properties can also positively influence gut health. See, a balanced gut microbiota is essential for efficient digestion which indirectly supports weight loss.
Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that adults who consumed cherries noticed improved sleep duration and enjoyed quality 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. I personally have them as a bedtime snack and I've seen the satiety benefits firsthand.
Besides their nutritional benefits, they have a low glycemic index; foods that release sugar slowly into the bloodstream and ensure stable energy levels all through the night while aiding in nighttime fat metabolism.
Examples of nuts that can help with this include:
- Cashew nuts
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 .
In addition, it is also a good source of magnesium which is good for improving sleep efficiencies .
I've always encouraged my patients who want to lose weight to include a sugar-free oatmeal bowl enhanced with cherries or fresh berries in their nighttime meal plans. And judging by the positive feedback I'm getting, it works magic in terms of satiety and promoting fat loss.
Moreover, my dietician also says that nuts have beta-glucans which modulate gut microbiota, a process that supports weight management.
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 promote bowel health and support the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon . Other benefits include heart health and cancer prevention.
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
“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, health 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
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 an extra 3.3 kgs (7.3 pounds) of body weight and burned more calories daily over 12 weeks than those who did not .
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 .
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.
Brown fat breaks down blood sugar and fat molecules to produce heat and keep the body warm .
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 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.
What Are the Best Diets for Burning Fat?
The best diets for burning fat include:
- Low-Carb Diets: Like ketogenic, reducing carbs to burn fat.
- Mediterranean Diet: Healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains.
- Paleo Diet: Focuses on whole foods, cuts out processed items.
- Intermittent Fasting: Alternating between eating and fasting periods.
- High-Protein Diets: Boosts metabolism, reduces appetite.
- Plant-Based Diets: Vegetarian or vegan, emphasizing whole foods.
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