4 things you can do at night to help lose weight
If you’re trying to lose weight and are not noticing a big change, you may be accidentally sabotaging your success every evening.
Michele Stuglis, a registered dietitian at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., offers four tips for creating healthy nighttime habits and increasing your odds for success.
There are three things to keep in mind, says Stuglis: when you eat, how you eat and what you eat.
“Try to eat your dinner at a reasonable hour, and don’t make it your biggest meal of the day,” says Stuglis. “Don’t eat after 6 or 7 pm, and aim for lots of vegetables and lean proteins. You want to give your body a chance to break it all down before you head to bed.”
Stuglis also stresses the importance of only eating when you’re hungry.
“It seems like common sense, but when they start paying attention, many people are shocked at how often they eat out of habit or boredom. Especially in the evening hours, when out socializing or relaxing on the couch.”
If you must snack after dinner, plan ahead. When it’s late in the evening and you’re craving something sweet or salty, having a low-calorie alternative available and ready to eat can make a big difference.
It can be hard to stay active at the end of a long day, but small changes can have a large impact over time.
“If you like to watch tv at night, dust off that treadmill in your basement and do some casual walking while you watch,” says Stuglis. “There is a lot of evidence that sitting is terrible for our health, but being active doesn’t always have to be strenuous and difficult.”
Doing some light chores around the house is another option rather than leaving them all to the weekend. Sweeping, vacuuming, doing laundry or standing to wash dishes all keep you lightly active and can distract you from late-night snack cravings.
Drinking water can reduce your appetite, which can help prevent late-night overeating. There is some evidence that drinking water can increase your metabolism, as well. Keeping a water bottle handy can also prevent you from drinking other things that are high in sugar or fat content.
“It’s simple, really: your body needs water. It helps regulate your organ function and keeps you hydrated,” says Stuglis. “Sometimes, when we are thirsty, we mistake it as a hunger cue and reach for snacks instead.”
Stuglis says there’s one other small benefit: the more water you drink, the more often you’ll need to make a trip the restroom.
“If it gets you off the couch or away from your desk at night, even for just a minute, that’s a good thing,” she says.
Some research suggests getting enough sleep can help your body burn fat better. But good sleep can also help you develop good diet habits.
“If you’re chronically tired, you’re more likely to take shortcuts on your health. You may rely on fast food or takeout for lunches and dinner, or stop at your local coffee shop for a calorie-dense gourmet coffee for a caffeine boost,” says Stuglis. “And no one wants to exercise or be active when they’re exhausted.”
Stuglis suggests prioritizing a good night’s sleep whenever possible.
“Small lifestyle changes can go a long way toward successful weight loss,” says Stuglis. “Otherwise, we may be working against ourselves and not even realize it.”
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