We have all been there. It's late and you find yourself hungry and wandering toward the kitchen. Before you decide to go for something that is not within your meal plan, find out what snack combination will satisfy your hunger and help you achieve restful sleep. Even at bedtime, you can stay on track with health goals!
What is the Best Bedtime Snack Combo? Carbs + Protein!
Why? One Word: Tryptophan!
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in many protein-rich foods. It has been studied for its sleep-boosting properties. When tryptophan enters the brain, it is used to create serotonin.
What is serotonin? It is a neurotransmitter associated with sleep and mood. It is typically referred to as the happy hormone.
Where Do Carbs Come In?
When someone eats protein, they consume a variety of amino acids (including tryptophan). All of these amino acids must compete to cross the blood-brain barrier. The ratio of tryptophan to the other amino acids is usually low, meaning tryptophan gets pushed out of the way and can’t get transported easily.
In come carbs! Carbohydrates increase the efficacy (impact) of tryptophan on the brain by triggering the release of insulin. Insulin removes all amino acids from the blood EXCEPT tryptophan, leaving plenty of space for tryptophan to cross that blood-brain barrier
Think of a turkey and stuffing dinner leading to naps!
What Does the Research Say?
Tryptophan has been shown to reduce symptoms of insomnia, sleep apnea, depression, and anxiety. Tryptophan has also been shown to increase both serotonin and melatonin in the blood.
What’s melatonin? It is a hormone involved in our sleep-wake cycle. Increases in melatonin in the evening are what contribute to us feeling sleepy.
Rich Sources of Tryptophan:
- Seeds (specifically pumpkin seeds)
- Cheese (specifically cheddar cheese)
Best MetPro Approved Bedtime Snacks:
- Cheese and crackers
- Banana with almond butter
- Eggs on toast
- Oats and peanut butter
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Fruit and nuts
How Can You Incorporate This Into Your Daily Routine While on MetPro?
No Carb Phases: This is useful information if you notice sleep disturbances during your cutting phase – it could be due to a lack of carbs at night. We recommend a night-time snack rich in protein like a scoop of peanut butter, a handful of pumpkin seeds, or a few slices of turkey.
Carb Phases: If you are struggling with sleep, consider asking your coach if you can swap to a 6-meal progression (if you are on a 5-meal progression) and we recommend a snack like the options above (OR head over to our sweet treat article which has some good protein + carb combo options!) for that serotonin punch before bedtime.