Late night snacks get a bad rap, but the right foods can do some good. Shape Brain Trust member Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., R.D., gives a few simple tips:

Follow the 30-30 rule
Active young women who had 30 grams of protein about 30 minutes before sleep experienced no negative metabolic effects, the British Journal of Nutrition reports. In fact, before-bed protein built muscle in a study of strength-training men, and experts believe the same would be true for women. The protein should come from casein in dairy products like cottage cheese, a cup contains a little less than 30 grams. It's slow digesting and will leave you satiated without spiking blood sugar.

Add carbs when needed
If you have trouble drifting off, include a small amount of healthy carbs with your protein snack, like half a slice of whole grain toast or a few grapes, says Kleiner, the author of The New Power Eating. These can help the body move the essential amino acid tryptophan into the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.

Hold back on some stuff
The worst foods you can eat before bed are high in fat or sugar. Kleiner says: "High fat foods take a long time to digest, and sugar increases your blood sugar, both of which can disturb sleep." Whey protein causes insulin spikes that could keep you up as well, she says. Also worth noting: If you typically don't snack after dinner, there's likely no benefit to adding a high-protein snack before bed.


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