One of the best parts of relaxing at night while catching up on your favorite TV shows? Pairing it with snacks, of course. The one exception to this rule is when you’re dieting to lose weight because you need to be intentional about which late-night snacks you choose to eat when you want to melt fat.
If you eat a late-night snack close to bedtime, a Nutrition Research study found that these foods tend to be higher in calories and are associated with more weight gain than snacking earlier in the day.
But the good news is that snacks can help your ability to lose weight as much as they can hinder it, according to a 2023 review published in the journal Nutrients. While unhealthy snacks can skyrocket calorie intake and may contribute to obesity, healthy snacks can help people meet their recommended intake of fruit, vitamins, minerals, and fiber and in some cases may even decrease waist circumference.
With a 2021 survey finding that over 60% of Americans between the ages of 18 to 80 indulge in snacking after 8 p.m., it seems that it’s important that most of us get a handle on the types of snacks we choose to eat in the later hours—especially if we’re on a weight loss journey.
The most important component for diet success is having a good plan in place, and if you know you’re going to snack, you want to have healthy choices in the kitchen. We spoke to registered dietitians to find out some of the best late-night snacks for weight loss to treat yourself to. And for more inspiration, be sure to check out Can Eating Oatmeal Help You Lose Weight?.
When you’re craving something delightfully sweet, check out these frozen banana chocolate bites from The Nutrition Twins®, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, who sit on our Medical Expert Board. These chocolatey treats are only 15 calories a pop and are seamless to whip up. Plus, they’re frozen, so you can’t eat them as fast as sweets that are not.
“Added bonus? Even if you eat the entire thing, you get a healthy dessert that packs in seven grams of protein, four grams of fiber, and bloat-busting potassium from the bananas and the yogurt, so this snack is great to balance any extra sodium you may have eaten earlier in the day, The Nutrition Twins tell us.
Pistachios totally hit the spot when you’re in the mood for a crunchy, salty bite late at night. Plus, they won’t wreak havoc on your waistline.
“[Pistachios are] one of the lowest calorie nuts, so you can have the largest portion size—49 nuts per serving,” The Nutrition Twins say. “They’re a good source of satisfying fiber and protein, so they keep blood sugar stable, so you don’t get an energy high followed by a crash that sends you back to the kitchen in search of sugar for a quick pick-me-up. And you avoid the sugar crash that you’d get with cookies that would spike and crash your blood sugar and release cortisol, the belly fat hormone, and that could wake you up in the middle of the night.” In addition, these tasty nuts offer antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation, which is often linked to weight gain.
The next time you head to the kitchen for a late-night snack, be sure to have blackberries in the fridge. This fruit is sweet, low in calories, packed with antioxidants, and doesn’t contain added sugar. “A good source of fiber, they’ll help keep you satisfied and prevent blood sugar spikes and the crashes that trigger sugar cravings,” The Nutrition Twins add. “Blackberries also can help with weight loss because they contain the phytochemical cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G) that has been shown to increase production of adiponectin, which may enhance fat metabolism, as well as leptin, which suppresses appetite.” Opting for blackberries over candy or other late-night sweets can save you a ton of calories.
This healthy frozen yogurt bark created by The Nutrition Twins only has 18 calories in each piece. It will totally take the edge off for something creamy, crunchy, tart, and sweet!
“A bonus for your waistline is the yogurt which is rich in probiotics and helps to improve gut health, and the healthier the gut microbiome, the easier it is to lose weight,” The Nutrition Twins say. “Plus, yogurt intake is associated with reduced visceral fat. The pomegranates and blueberries contain potent antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation that makes weight loss more challenging.”
Popcorn is a fun, simple snack that’s perfect for a late-night indulgence. This crunchy treat is an excellent source of fiber, too, so it will fill you up. Air-popped popcorn offers just 31 calories per cup. According to one study, consuming 15 calories of popcorn will be just as filling as eating 150 calories worth of chips.
The Nutrition Twins warn, “Just be careful not to add oil or butter to your popcorn which can add hundreds of extra calories. Instead, try cinnamon, paprika, garlic powder, or other spices that are calorie-free and provide immune-boosting benefits. Or sprinkle with a dash of Everything Bagel seasoning.”
Hardboiled eggs aren’t just for breakfast! They’re easy snacks that contain six grams of protein that will fill you up. “People associate eggs with a meal, so when you have it as a snack, it mentally feels like you’re having more,” The Nutrition Twins share. “Plus, eggs rank high on the Satiety Index scale, a rating of how filling a food is. Unlike sweet snacks that can set you up to crave more sweets, an egg does the trick. Simply sprinkle it with turmeric and pepper or a little salt and pepper. Boil enough eggs at the beginning of the week so they’re ready when you want them!”
Let’s be honest: Chocolate and peanut butter make the ultimate combination. The Nutrition Twins’ chocolate peanut butter energy rolls are sweet and healthy, and they offer “built-in portion control.” The best part? They’re only 92 calories and don’t have added sugar.
“You can sink your teeth into them and enjoy them without worrying that you’ll overeat them,” The Nutrition Twins say. “The secret is to make these and immediately freeze them. When you take them out of the freezer, you can’t just impulsively eat them since they’re too hard to bite into, you’ll break a tooth if you grab one out of the freezer and immediately try to bite into it. Believe us, we tried! So take just one out of the freezer, allow it to defrost, and enjoy.”
When you want a sweet treat, reach for a kiwi. Not only are they healthy, but The Nutrition Twins dub them a “waistline-friendly alternative to Sweetarts.” How’s that for a late-night snack? In fact, kiwis will only set you back about 84 calories while offering four grams of fiber.
“Kiwis are one of the fruits highest in your body’s feel-good chemical, serotonin, and serotonin has been shown to help curb cravings, so you’re less likely to end up overdoing it on something later,” The Nutrition Twins.
If you’re a milk lover, you’re going to enjoy this late-night snack recommendation. Turmeric golden milk is only 45 calories, but will do so many amazing things. According to The Nutrition Twins, this soothing sip promotes relaxation, lower stress, and better digestion. By reducing stress, this golden milk will help lower the “belly fat hormone” known as cortisol. “Made with superstar ingredients like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon, you’ll fight inflammation in your body, which means it will be easier for you to lose weight,” The Nutrition Twins add.
Looking for something tart with a hint of natural sweetness? Consider satisfying your late-night cravings with some cherries. This fruit offers fiber—one cup of cherries with pits contains almost three grams of fiber—which we’ve established is essential when it comes to weight loss. Plus, snacking on a cup’s worth of cherries will only set you back about 87 calories. So cherries will help you feel full and won’t cost a ton of calories, especially if you’re eating them late at night!