Cramming for tests, crazy travel schedules, getting ahead on work projects: late nights happen, and not always of the fun Friday night variety. Sometimes going to sleep earlier and getting a full night's rest just isn't possible. And if you're burning the midnight oil and running low on energy, a healthy snack or two can keep you going strong until it's finally time to sleep.
"Eating late at night isn't necessarily an unhealthy habit," said registered dietitian Jenn LaVardera, a nutrition expert at Naturipe Farms - as long as you're truly hungry and you go for a nutritious snack. Sugary, processed foods can lead to weight gain, and they won't provide you with the long-lasting energy you're looking for, either; you'll get a fleeting bump of energy followed by a crash. If you're snacking to stay awake, this can quickly lead to overeating.
Instead, opt for "a combination of fibrous carbohydrates and protein," said Rachel Fine, a registered dietitian at To the Pointe Nutrition. "Carbohydrates are an important fuel source to keep the brain alert," she explained, but simple carbs are the ones that'll lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes. The natural fiber will allow for slower absorption into the blood stream. Protein is another good source of long-lasting energy and "an important addition to any nighttime snack," Rachel added.
With that baseline, we asked registered dietitians to recommend the healthiest late night snacks for keeping your energy up without hurting your health and fitness goals. Read on to check out the options, both sweet and savory, that'll help you stay satiated and focused on whatever's keeping you up late tonight.