What Should You Do Before Bed To Keep Your Weight In Check?

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Inadequate sleep induces cravings, decreases metabolism, and increases cortisol that may trigger stress bingeing. Eat tryptophan-rich foods like cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, turkey, and cherries to increase sleep hormone - serotonin. Avoid fatty food, sweets, ice creams, and frozen food in the evening. Eat fresh or cooked vegetables, soups, legumes, and whole grains. Meditate or pray to calm your nerves.

What you do during the daytime isn’t the only thing that will impact your weight. A few tweaks to your nightly routine could be just the change you need to help boost your metabolism and even drop any lingering pounds.

Sleep Better, Manage Your Weight Better

Sleep regulates the body’s metabolic hormones, which means it directly influences your metabolism and your weight. Studies have shown that short sleep duration is closely linked to higher body mass index (BMI). One study found that with less sleep, the body’s levels of ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, increased. In addition, levels of leptin, an energy-regulating hormone that helps lower appetite, decreased. Thus, chronic sleep deprivation will leave you feeling hungrier during the day and with a larger appetite overall. It may play a major part in obesity.1 Setting yourself up for a good night’s rest can help kick-start your metabolism and lead to weight loss.

Eat Right Every Night

A good night’s rest can be easier said than done, but what you eat and drink can help dramatically. Most importantly, avoid stimulants, like caffeine found in coffee, tea, or soda, for at least two hours before bedtime.

A smart dinnertime choice to promote sleep? Foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan, like cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, and turkey. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep, and has been found to help people fall asleep faster. As little as one gram of tryptophan can improve sleep quality.2

And how about dessert? Try cherries: Rich in antioxidants, they help restore muscular function, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. They also contain serotonin and tryptophan, both of which can improve sleep and promote better weight management.3

Plan Some Downtime To Unwind

Inadequate sleep can also cause cortisol levels to rise. This stress hormone increases your cravings for fatty, carb-laden, serotonin-rich foods – in other words, foods that can calm down your nervous system. Unfortunately, eating these types of foods can also cause you to pack on the pounds – and fast. The higher cortisol levels found in sleep-deprived individuals is also connected to insulin resistance, which increases the risk for obesity. Taking the time to de-stress can help lower cortisol levels and promote good quality sleep.4

Set aside some time for meditation, prayer, or gentle exercise, anything that can help calm the mind and body (stay away from any electronic devices though). Yoga has been found to be just as effective as other relaxation techniques and contributes to overall vitality as well.5 You can also try a good, old-fashioned warm shower or bath to allow your muscles to relax, setting the tone for a good night’s sleep.

Boost Your Metabolism

Consuming a casein-rich shake before bedtime can help increase your metabolism. Casein is the relatively less soluble portion of milk protein and is sold as a supplement or as a powder much like whey protein. Cottage cheese and greek yogurt are other good sources of casein. An estimated 80 percent of cow’s milk protein is casein. One study found that casein helps burn fat while supplying the protein your body needs to promote muscle health and strength. Improved muscle tone will help you burn extra calories throughout the day.6 Antioxidant-rich green tea has also been shown to increase metabolism. Of course, green tea does contain some caffeine, so you’ll want to consume it at least a couple of hours before bedtime.

Skip The Sugar, Cut The Bloat

It’s best to avoid sugary and starchy foods during and after dinner. These foods drive the body to produce insulin, a major fat-storage hormone. As insulin levels drop – as is the case when you are asleep – your body can start melting away any excess fat.

Also avoid any foods that can cause bloating. Excessively salty foods can put too much pressure on your kidneys, which would otherwise flush out the surplus water in your body. Normally, your body would shed excess water weight at night so you don’t wake up feeling (and looking) bloated. Stay hydrated with adequate water to aid this process.

Ayurveda And Your Night Time Routine

Ayurveda suggests putting extra care into your nighttime diet and routine. During the evening, avoid foods that are fatty and hard to digest, as well as sweets, chocolates, cold ice creams, and other frozen food. These all increase kapha in the body, causing excessive weight gain. Eat fresh or cooked vegetables, soups, legumes, and whole grains.

Ayurveda experts also recommend eating a small and light dinner since the body typically uses less energy at night. Any extra calories due to overeating will be stored in the body as fat. It’s best to eat early – aim to be sitting down for dinner by 7.30 pm.7

References   [ + ]

1. Taheri, Shahrad, Ling Lin, Diane Austin, Terry Young, and Emmanuel Mignot. “Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index.” PLoS Med 1, no. 3 (2004): e62.
2. Halson, Shona L. “Nutritional interventions to enhance sleep.” Sports Science Exchange 26, no. 116 (2013): 1-5.
3. Garrido, M., A. B. Rodríguez, C. Barriga, and S. D. Paredes. “Cherry-enriched diets improve sleep from young to elderly populations.” In Handbook of nutrition, diet and sleep, pp. 426-439. Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2013.
4. Gibson, Edward Leigh. “Emotional influences on food choice: sensory, physiological and psychological pathways.” Physiology & behavior 89, no. 1 (2006): 53-61.
5. Smith, Caroline, Heather Hancock, Jane Blake-Mortimer, and Kerena Eckert. “A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety.” Complementary therapies in medicine 15, no. 2 (2007): 77-83.
6. Groen, Bart, B. A. R. T. Pennings, Milou Beelen, Gareth A. Wallis, Annemie P. Gijsen, J. M. Senden, and L. J. Van Loon. “Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 44, no. 8 (2012): 1560-1569.
7. Gerson, Scott. The Ayurvedic Guide to Diet & Weight Loss: The Sattva Program. Lotus Press, 2002.