Late Night Snacking as a College Student

Truc Trang, Dietetics Major ‘19, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

It’s that time of year again. Finals are rolling in and your incessant procrastination has left you with nothing but caffeine-fueled all-nighters. A suffocating sense of dread gnaws at you, and your only reprieve are the snacks in your drawer. However, the thought of late night snacking leading to weight gain crossed your mind. All those hours at the gym, all those times you resolved to be healthy would be for nothing. So then, what do you do?

Snacking Misconceptions

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding late night snacking. There is a widely held belief that nighttime snacking is bad and leads to weight gain. Many students are under the false assumption they don’t need calories this close to bedtime and that food they eat late at night turns into fat. The truth is, your body is constantly burning calories, including during your sleep. Every part of your body, such as your brain and heart, is always running, meaning they need food for fuel. If you feel hunger while you are up studying then your body is low on fuel and needs a snack.

Importance of Purposeful Snacking

Your body needs to be refueled every 3-4 hours in order to properly function. Without proper snacking, you’ll lose energy and feel lethargic and sluggish. Plus comprehension and memory is significantly reduced which will make your hours of studying less efficient.

As University Health Center Nutrition Coaches, we encourage our clients to enjoy purposeful snacks to maximize their nutrients. A purposeful snack is a snack that contains both a source of carbohydrates and a source of protein. Carbohydrates provide energy to fuel your body while protein provides sustainability to keep you full throughout the night. The carbohydrate source can come either from the fruit or grain group. The protein source can come either from the protein or dairy group.

Examples of purposeful snacks:

  • Apple with peanut butter
  • Trail mix
  • Crackers and cheese
  • Hummus and pretzels
  • Turkey wrapped in pita bread
  • Peanut butter on whole wheat toast
  • Remember to always respond to your body’s cues. Eat when you’re hungry, and cease when you’re full. Snacking is just as important as other meals for maximizing your nutrition and keeping your body energized.

    To learn more about late night snacking, reserve your free session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing [email protected]