There are a lot of things that can conspire to keep you up all night: The slumping markets. The rising prices. That recurring nightmare about being chased down the street by Steven Tyler's lips. But if you're having trouble getting a good night's sleep, here's a culprit you might not have looked at: Your diet. Turns out that plenty of late-night snacks can actually interfere with sleep—and conspire to make you gain more weight than you should.
It's true: When food keeps you awake at night, it's actually doing a double-whammy on your tummy. In a study from Wake Forest University, adults younger than 40 who slept 5 hours or less gained more abdominal fat over a 5-year period than those who slept for 6 or 7 hours a night. (You think Jimmy Kimmel looks like that by accident?) And worse, in a recent study from the European Heart Journal, researchers found that people who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night are at a higher risk for certain health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
What are these late-night dietary double-crossers? And how can you tweak your diet so you not only burn calories day and night, but get the added fitness burst of a good night's sleep? Eat This, Not That! has (tirelessly) compiled a list. Let's find out...
WORST LATE-NIGHT DINNER
Beef Ribeye (8 oz)
33.5 g fat (13 g saturated)
If you eat dinner late, avoid big, fatty beef cuts. They digest slowly, which means your body has to keep active when you want it to be in shutdown mode. Plus, the heavy dose of protein will pump you full of tyrosine, an amino acid that triggers neurons in your brain to become more active. That's not something you want before you nod off. If you must appease your grumbling, stick with poultry as your main meat. The tryptophan in turkey and chicken induces serotonin, a compound that plays an instrumental role in regulating sleep cycles. And the bun that holds the chicken? That helps, too. An Australian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that starchy carbs—like the ones in bread—can bolster the tryptophan and serotonin spikes.
Eat This Instead!
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
15 g fat (3 g saturated)
DID YOU KNOW? Grocery cart handles are dirtier than bathrooms, and half of them carry E. coli, says a new University of Arizona study. Discover more surprising health, nutrition, and weight loss secrets like this by following me on Twitter right here (where I'm giving a FREE iPad 2 to a lucky follower) or by signing up for our FREE Eat This, Not That! newsletter. And check out Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide. It'll help you navigate the jungle of 60,000 supermarket choices and lose weight while eating your favorite foods.