Should You Go to Bed Hungry If You’re Trying to Lose Weight?

You finished dinner two hours ago. You’re hopping in the hay soon, but your brain and belly say to hop into the kitchen first. You’re trying to slim down, though, so is it better to go to bed with a little something in your belly or absolutely nothing?

Nutritionists Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition say there’s no black and white answer to this question, because it depends on your personal habits and healthy goals. But you ask, “shouldn’t you feel hungry at night if you’re trying to lose weight?” Let’s just debunk a popular myth right now ¡ª eating late at night won’t cause you to gain weight. As long as you’re not exceeding your calorie needs for the entire day, it won’t affect the scale. So there’s no need to avoid eating for the sheer sake of dropping pounds.

Related: Do I Have to Be Hungry to Lose Weight?

That’s not, however, giving you the green light to devour an entire sleeve of Oreos before slipping on your pj’s. You don’t want to eat so much that indigestion, discomfort, or pain makes sleep impossible, or that you’re too full by morning that you need to skip breakfast, which can mess with your metabolism. But you also don’t want to starve yourself because hunger pangs could be so intense that it makes it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. Holding off and depriving yourself can also backfire, leading you to inhale an entire pint of ice cream.

It’s up to you to find a happy medium. If you’re always hungry an hour or two after dinner, the solution may be just as simple as eating a little bit more for that last meal. Also make sure you’re eating a balanced meal that includes protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, a little bit of healthy fat, and plenty of veggies, because that will help you to feel satisfied for longer. Or maybe eating a little something before bed is a nice little habit you’re not ready to break up with. So don’t! Just be sure you map out your day’s eating schedule to allot enough calories (about 150) for after dinner. Preplan some healthy, properly portioned snacks ¡ª these snacks will satisfy your dessert cravings ¡ª so you can feel good noshing.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO

Should You Go to Bed Hungry If You’re Trying to Lose Weight?

You finished dinner two hours ago. You’re hopping in the hay soon| but your brain and belly say to hop into the kitchen first. You’re trying to slim down| though| so is it better to go to bed with a little something in your belly or absolutely nothing?

Nutritionists Stephanie Clarke| RD| and Willow Jarosh| RD| of C&J Nutrition say there’s no black and white answer to this question| because it depends on your personal habits and healthy goals. But you ask| “shouldn’t you feel hungry at night if you’re trying to lose weight?” Let’s just debunk a popular myth right now eating late at night won’t cause you to gain weight. As long as you’re not exceeding your calorie needs for the entire day| it won’t affect the scale. So there’s no need to avoid eating for the sheer sake of dropping pounds.

Related: Do I Have to Be Hungry to Lose Weight?

That’s not| however| giving you the green light to devour an entire sleeve of Oreos before slipping on your pj’s. You don’t want to eat so much that indigestion| discomfort| or pain makes sleep impossible| or that you’re too full by morning that you need to skip breakfast| which can mess with your metabolism. But you also don’t want to starve yourself because hunger pangs could be so intense that it makes it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. Holding off and depriving yourself can also backfire| leading you to inhale an entire pint of ice cream.

It’s up to you to find a happy medium. If you’re always hungry an hour or two after dinner| the solution may be just as simple as eating a little bit more for that last meal. Also make sure you’re eating a balanced meal that includes protein| high-fiber carbohydrates| a little bit of healthy fat| and plenty of veggies| because that will help you to feel satisfied for longer. Or maybe eating a little something before bed is a nice little habit you’re not ready to break up with. So don’t! Just be sure you map out your day’s eating schedule to allot enough calories (about 150) for after dinner. Preplan some healthy| properly portioned snacks ¡ª these snacks will satisfy your dessert cravings ¡ª so you can feel good noshing.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO

These Alternative Food Cravings Options Are Sure to Curb Your Appetite

Food cravings can be extremely tough to curb. So instead of trying to completely squash your cravings, why not try one of these healthier options? Registered dietician Shira Lenchewski of Shira RD has alternatives for everything from red meat to candy to carbs that do not disappoint.

Here’s how to decode your cravings, and act accordingly:

If You’re Craving: Chocolate

You could be lacking magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in energy production, glucose metabolism, and muscle function. This is especially true for those hitting the gym hard.

Instead, Reach For: High-quality, low-sugar dark chocolate. I recommend sticking to 75 percent cocoa or higher and pairing it with another magnesium-rich source like sunflower seeds. My personal favorite is Hu, which is a little pricey, but all the more reason to keep portions in check.

Related: Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

If You’re Craving: Candy

Craving pure sugar is a good indication that you’re running low on energy. Think about it. What is the one thing you’re itching for, after a terrible night’s sleep, or at around 4 p.m. during a stressful workday? The answer is usually sugar, because it’s used as instant fuel for our body’s cells.

Instead, Reach For: If you’re raiding your co-workers’ leftover Halloween stash, I recommend a more slow-burn carbohydrate with a source of fat or protein. Unlike simple sugar, this will fuel your cells while avoiding the postsugar crash. Two options that make for great pick-me-ups: apples with nut butter or berries with 2 percent unsweetened Greek yogurt.

If You’re Craving: Salty

If nothing but the saltiest pickle will do, you may not be drinking enough H2O. Salt helps the body hold on to water, so we crave it when we’re in need of fluids.

Instead, Reach For: Water. Stay hydrated, especially as we approach the Winter months. If plain water bores you, try adding in mint, lemon, or frozen fruit to mix it up. And if you’re really just craving salt after all, toasted seaweed is a great low-calorie option.

Related: Stay Hydrated With These Fruit-Water Recipes

If You’re Craving: Starchy Carbs Like Bread, Bagels, and Pasta

Since high-carb foods boost the feel-good hormone serotonin, starch cravings can be a sign you’re in need of a mood booster.

Instead, Reach For:A bath. Bust out the Epsom salts, it’s time for some serious R+R. Trust me. Indulging in a starch free-for-all feels really good in the moment, but it will likely bum you out more the next day.

If You’re Craving: Rich Creamy Dairy

Your body may be telling you it’s in need of some healthy fat.

Instead, Reach For: I’m a realist, so if you’re craving ice cream, I’m not going to recommend a handful of walnuts, which are, of course, full of healthy fat. For ice-cream emergencies I recommend lower-in-sugar coconut ice-creams like Kippy’s three-ingredient ice cream in Los Angeles.

Related: Mouthwatering Buffalo Burger You Can Make at Home

If You’re Craving: A Burger

If you can’t stop thinking about red meat, there’s a chance you’re your body is craving iron and B12. This is especially true during or around that time of the month.

Instead, Reach For: I’m a proponent of grass fed, antibiotic and hormone-free red meat 1 time a week. Try experimenting with an open-faced bison burger ¡ª which, cut for cut, is leaner and has more iron than beef.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO

These Alternative Food Cravings Options Are Sure to Curb Your Appetite

Food cravings can be extremely tough to curb. So instead of trying to completely squash your cravings| why not try one of these healthier options? Registered dietician Shira Lenchewski of Shira RD has alternatives for everything from red meat to candy to carbs that do not disappoint.

Here’s how to decode your cravings| and act accordingly:

If You’re Craving: Chocolate

You could be lacking magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in energy production| glucose metabolism| and muscle function. This is especially true for those hitting the gym hard.

Instead| Reach For: High-quality| low-sugar dark chocolate. I recommend sticking to 75 percent cocoa or higher and pairing it with another magnesium-rich source like sunflower seeds. My personal favorite is Hu| which is a little pricey| but all the more reason to keep portions in check.

Related: Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

If You’re Craving: Candy

Craving pure sugar is a good indication that you’re running low on energy. Think about it. What is the one thing you’re itching for| after a terrible night’s sleep| or at around 4 p.m. during a stressful workday? The answer is usually sugar| because it’s used as instant fuel for our body’s cells.

Instead| Reach For: If you’re raiding your co-workers’ leftover Halloween stash| I recommend a more slow-burn carbohydrate with a source of fat or protein. Unlike simple sugar| this will fuel your cells while avoiding the postsugar crash. Two options that make for great pick-me-ups: apples with nut butter or berries with 2 percent unsweetened Greek yogurt.

If You’re Craving: Salty

If nothing but the saltiest pickle will do| you may not be drinking enough H2O. Salt helps the body hold on to water| so we crave it when we’re in need of fluids.

Instead| Reach For: Water. Stay hydrated| especially as we approach the Winter months. If plain water bores you| try adding in mint| lemon| or frozen fruit to mix it up. And if you’re really just craving salt after all| toasted seaweed is a great low-calorie option.

Related: Stay Hydrated With These Fruit-Water Recipes

If You’re Craving: Starchy Carbs Like Bread| Bagels| and Pasta

Since high-carb foods boost the feel-good hormone serotonin| starch cravings can be a sign you’re in need of a mood booster.

Instead| Reach For:A bath. Bust out the Epsom salts| it’s time for some serious R+R. Trust me. Indulging in a starch free-for-all feels really good in the moment| but it will likely bum you out more the next day.

If You’re Craving: Rich Creamy Dairy

Your body may be telling you it’s in need of some healthy fat.

Instead| Reach For: I’m a realist| so if you’re craving ice cream| I’m not going to recommend a handful of walnuts| which are| of course| full of healthy fat. For ice-cream emergencies I recommend lower-in-sugar coconut ice-creams like Kippy’s three-ingredient ice cream in Los Angeles.

Related: Mouthwatering Buffalo Burger You Can Make at Home

If You’re Craving: A Burger

If you can’t stop thinking about red meat| there’s a chance you’re your body is craving iron and B12. This is especially true during or around that time of the month.

Instead| Reach For: I’m a proponent of grass fed| antibiotic and hormone-free red meat 1 time a week. Try experimenting with an open-faced bison burger ¡ª which| cut for cut| is leaner and has more iron than beef.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO

You’ll Never Eat Another Gummy Bear Again After Hearing What It’s Made From

If you look at the ingredients on a package of gummy bears ¡ª even organic ones ¡ª you’ll see expected things like corn or brown rice syrup and sugar. But you’ll also see something called gelatin. Seems innocent enough, but its source might surprise you. Gelatin is a yellowish, odorless, and nearly tasteless substance that is made by prolonged boiling of skin, cartilage, and bones from animals. It’s made primarily from the stuff meat industries have left over ¡ª we’re talking about pork skins, horns, and cattle bones. Ugh.

I guess if you’re into the philosophy of using the whole animal, you’ll be psyched about this. Plus gelatin contains 18 amino acids, so it does offer some nutritional benefits. But if you’re vegan, you’ll definitely want to skip the chewy candies and your great-aunt’s Jell-O mold ¡ª it’s made with gelatin, too. This animal-derived ingredient can also be found in some vitamins and medications, marshmallows (Peeps included), cheeses, yogurts, soups, salad dressings, jams and jellies, fruit snacks, and canned hams. If this tidbit of info grosses you out, you’ll want to pay closer attention to these products’ food labels.

Related: Should You Avoid Maltodextrin?

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

You’ll Never Eat Another Gummy Bear Again After Hearing What It’s Made From

If you look at the ingredients on a package of gummy bears even organic ones you’ll see expected things like corn or brown rice syrup and sugar. But you’ll also see something called gelatin. Seems innocent enough| but its source might surprise you. Gelatin is a yellowish| odorless| and nearly tasteless substance that is made by prolonged boiling of skin| cartilage| and bones from animals. It’s made primarily from the stuff meat industries have left over we’re talking about pork skins| horns| and cattle bones. Ugh.

I guess if you’re into the philosophy of using the whole animal| you’ll be psyched about this. Plus gelatin contains 18 amino acids| so it does offer some nutritional benefits. But if you’re vegan| you’ll definitely want to skip the chewy candies and your great-aunt’s Jell-O mold it’s made with gelatin| too. This animal-derived ingredient can also be found in some vitamins and medications| marshmallows (Peeps included)| cheeses| yogurts| soups| salad dressings| jams and jellies| fruit snacks| and canned hams. If this tidbit of info grosses you out| you’ll want to pay closer attention to these products’ food labels.

Related: Should You Avoid Maltodextrin?

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

The Weight-Loss Strategy That Will Change Your Relationship With Food

While keeping calories in check is necessary, being healthy is built on more than numbers. In order to lose weight and keep it off, eating clean can be the key to your continued success. Instead of feeling like you’re on a “forever” diet, committing to the clean-eating lifestyle can help you achieve the results you’re after and feel more energized than you could have imagined. Here’s how to do it.

Stop With Processed Food

One of the easiest ways to get started is to replace processed grub with natural, minimally processed ingredients. Not only are these options more nutritious, but their flavors are also more satisfying. The occasional indulgence is absolutely necessary, but cleaning up your daily diet is one of the best moves you can make to ensure consistent weight loss. Opt for natural whole foods with ingredients you can pronounce!

Eat More Produce

If you’re not sure how to snack, always pick up some produce; fresh fruit and veggies will fill you up in a healthy way, and the fiber will keep you fuller, longer. Just like we’ve got to retrain our taste buds to stop with the salt and sugar, you’ll find that your body will beg for produce once you start eating it consistently. These are the cravings we welcome with open arms.

Skip the Added Sugars

If your taste buds have been overloaded by sugar in the past, it’s high time to clean things up. Natural sugar from fruit is what you’re looking for on a clean-eating plan; the white sugar that goes into baked goods or your supersweet coffee beverage is not. And even if you’re not a dessert junkie, you might be shocked at some of the everyday foods like bread and yogurt that pile on the sugar! Start being fastidious about reading labels and skipping added sugars whenever possible.

Learn to Look For Salt

Learning to relish the natural flavors of what you’re eating can be a big adjustment if you’re taking on a clean-eating plan ¡ª and salt is one of the ingredients that manages to sneak its way into strange foods like cottage cheese, bread, and cereal. As you start to exile processed or prepackaged foods from your life, you won’t have to be as concerned about high-sodium products, but continue to keep your table-salt sprinkles to a minimum to beat bloat and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and more.

Cut Back on Caffeine

One cup of high-quality coffee is approved on most clean-eating plans ¡ª the Paleo diet has its own strange butter brew you can try if you’re inclined ¡ª but it’s important to keep caffeinated beverages to a minimum. Too much coffee can mess with your energy and anxiety levels and undo all the hard work you’re putting in with your healthy food choices. If you must, sub in your second cup for green tea to stay on course.

Back Off the Booze

Alcohol is full of empty calories and tons of sugar, which can mess with all the hard work you put in with meal planning. Keep the booze to a minimum, and opt for an all-natural mocktail or a healthy nightcap when the mood strikes.

Go Whole Grain

Refined grains are one of those sneaky products that always find a way into a grocery cart. It’s integral to look for real whole-grain products. Advertisers simply saying that a loaf of bread is multigrain or organic doesn’t make it a clean food since many of these items are composed of refined flour. Real whole grains will aid in healthy digestion while cutting back on belly bloat.

Seriously . . . Read the Label

The nutritional info on labels is some of the best defense against culprits that hinder clean-eating success. A low-calorie number is always great to see, but knowing to look for crazy amounts of sodium, trans or saturated fat, or ingredients you simply can’t pronounce will help you make the shift toward healthier choices ¡ª and understand why you’re doing so!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne

The Weight-Loss Strategy That Will Change Your Relationship With Food

While keeping calories in check is necessary| being healthy is built on more than numbers. In order to lose weight and keep it off| eating clean can be the key to your continued success. Instead of feeling like you’re on a “forever” diet| committing to the clean-eating lifestyle can help you achieve the results you’re after and feel more energized than you could have imagined. Here’s how to do it.

Stop With Processed Food

One of the easiest ways to get started is to replace processed grub with natural| minimally processed ingredients. Not only are these options more nutritious| but their flavors are also more satisfying. The occasional indulgence is absolutely necessary| but cleaning up your daily diet is one of the best moves you can make to ensure consistent weight loss. Opt for natural whole foods with ingredients you can pronounce!

Eat More Produce

If you’re not sure how to snack| always pick up some produce; fresh fruit and veggies will fill you up in a healthy way| and the fiber will keep you fuller| longer. Just like we’ve got to retrain our taste buds to stop with the salt and sugar| you’ll find that your body will beg for produce once you start eating it consistently. These are the cravings we welcome with open arms.

Skip the Added Sugars

If your taste buds have been overloaded by sugar in the past| it’s high time to clean things up. Natural sugar from fruit is what you’re looking for on a clean-eating plan; the white sugar that goes into baked goods or your supersweet coffee beverage is not. And even if you’re not a dessert junkie| you might be shocked at some of the everyday foods like bread and yogurt that pile on the sugar! Start being fastidious about reading labels and skipping added sugars whenever possible.

Learn to Look For Salt

Learning to relish the natural flavors of what you’re eating can be a big adjustment if you’re taking on a clean-eating plan and salt is one of the ingredients that manages to sneak its way into strange foods like cottage cheese| bread| and cereal. As you start to exile processed or prepackaged foods from your life| you won’t have to be as concerned about high-sodium products| but continue to keep your table-salt sprinkles to a minimum to beat bloat and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease| stroke| and more.

Cut Back on Caffeine

One cup of high-quality coffee is approved on most clean-eating plans the Paleo diet has its own strange butter brew you can try if you’re inclined but it’s important to keep caffeinated beverages to a minimum. Too much coffee can mess with your energy and anxiety levels and undo all the hard work you’re putting in with your healthy food choices. If you must| sub in your second cup for green tea to stay on course.

Back Off the Booze

Alcohol is full of empty calories and tons of sugar| which can mess with all the hard work you put in with meal planning. Keep the booze to a minimum| and opt for an all-natural mocktail or a healthy nightcap when the mood strikes.

Go Whole Grain

Refined grains are one of those sneaky products that always find a way into a grocery cart. It’s integral to look for real whole-grain products. Advertisers simply saying that a loaf of bread is multigrain or organic doesn’t make it a clean food since many of these items are composed of refined flour. Real whole grains will aid in healthy digestion while cutting back on belly bloat.

Seriously . . . Read the Label

The nutritional info on labels is some of the best defense against culprits that hinder clean-eating success. A low-calorie number is always great to see| but knowing to look for crazy amounts of sodium| trans or saturated fat| or ingredients you simply can’t pronounce will help you make the shift toward healthier choices ¡ª and understand why you’re doing so!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne

The Budget-Friendly Superfood That Can Help You Lose Weight

Scrambled, poached, or hard-boiled, there are so many ways to make eggs exciting to eat. One large egg clocks in at just 72 calories, but beyond the calorie count, there are so many healthy reasons you should always have a carton ready to go in your fridge.

They’re packed with protein: Doubling your protein intake can help you lose weight, and if you have a hard time eating a lot of meat, eggs are a great alternative. Just one large egg offers 6.3 grams of protein.

They can help you lose weight: Due to the fact that they’re high in protein and low in carbohydrates, eating a regular egg breakfast has been linked to weight-loss results. Researchers found that subjects who ate an egg-filled breakfast were more likely to lose weight than those who started the day with a breakfast that was high in carbs.

They ease period symptoms: If you tend to feel run-down when that time of the month rolls around, eggs might help you perk up and feel more like yourself. These symptoms may be linked to an iron deficiency, and eggs are a good source of this essential mineral.

They support a healthy pregnancy: Whole eggs (with the yolk) provide choline, a long-recommended nutrient for expecting moms; high amounts of choline can support healthy growth and development and may even reduce the risk of birth defects.

They reduce your cancer risk: In one study of more than 3,000 women, researchers found that the risk of developing breast cancer was 24 percent lower among women with the highest intake of choline-rich foods (like eggs) compared to women with the lowest intake. Looks like it’s time to stock up on a second carton ASAP.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne

The Budget-Friendly Superfood That Can Help You Lose Weight

Scrambled| poached| or hard-boiled| there are so many ways to make eggs exciting to eat. One large egg clocks in at just 72 calories| but beyond the calorie count| there are so many healthy reasons you should always have a carton ready to go in your fridge.

They’re packed with protein: Doubling your protein intake can help you lose weight| and if you have a hard time eating a lot of meat| eggs are a great alternative. Just one large egg offers 6.3 grams of protein.

They can help you lose weight: Due to the fact that they’re high in protein and low in carbohydrates| eating a regular egg breakfast has been linked to weight-loss results. Researchers found that subjects who ate an egg-filled breakfast were more likely to lose weight than those who started the day with a breakfast that was high in carbs.

They ease period symptoms: If you tend to feel run-down when that time of the month rolls around| eggs might help you perk up and feel more like yourself. These symptoms may be linked to an iron deficiency| and eggs are a good source of this essential mineral.

They support a healthy pregnancy: Whole eggs (with the yolk) provide choline| a long-recommended nutrient for expecting moms; high amounts of choline can support healthy growth and development and may even reduce the risk of birth defects.

They reduce your cancer risk: In one study of more than 3|000 women| researchers found that the risk of developing breast cancer was 24 percent lower among women with the highest intake of choline-rich foods (like eggs) compared to women with the lowest intake. Looks like it’s time to stock up on a second carton ASAP.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne