Between work, helping the kids with school, and making grocery runs, sometimes the only time you can find to exercise is later in the evening. There’s a downside though: working out later in the day can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
However, there are certain foods you can eat to help curb that post-workout sleeplessness — and, if they’re high-protein, they might even help you build muscle, too! So, before you collapse on your Bear Pro after that HIIT workout, have a bite of one of these yummy, filling, sleep-friendly snacks.
Most dairy-based foods are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body uses to produce serotonin and melatonin, which both help induce sleepiness. However yogurt is much easier to digest than, say, a glass of milk, making it a better pre-bedtime snack. You may also want to add some healthy carbs, like granola or flaxseed, to your yogurt since combining complex carbohydrates with protein helps you get the most out of all that tryptophan.
Bonus: yogurt is high in casein protein, which provides the amino acids your body needs to repair and build muscle.
Don’t let their small size fool you: almonds deliver a massive amount of nutrients. High in healthy fats, protein, and fiber, they’re a great snack option after any workout, late-night or not.
But for you late-night exercisers, almonds are also an excellent source of both melatonin and magnesium. Melatonin, as you may know, is the hormone that regulates your internal clock and helps you fall asleep. Magnesium, on the other hand, can improve overall sleep quality by reducing inflammation. It may also help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which interrupts sleep.
As a healthy, complex carbohydrate, quinoa can help lower cortisol levels and give you a better night’s sleep. It’s also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, which can help with muscle recovery while you sleep. Yet another reason why quinoa is the best!
Our tip: make a small quinoa bowl with other great post-workout foods, like roasted sweet potato for complex carbs, salmon or tuna for protein, and avocado for healthy fats.
Turkey is another food that’s high in tryptophan, so a slice or two after your late-night workout can help boost your melatonin levels. And, if possible, go with roasted turkey slices — with 8 grams of protein per ounce, it’s yet another sleep-friendly food that helps with muscle recovery.
Oatmeal offers many health benefits, including weight loss, lower blood sugar and reduced risk of heart disease. It’s also one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. But, for our purposes, oatmeal is high in healthy carbs (wave goodbye to all that cortisol!) and is a known source of melatonin.
Our tip: add some banana slices to your oatmeal for a dose of magnesium, and stir in some high-protein nut butter to help your body build those muscles!
These are some of our favorite foods to eat after a late-night workout not only because they help ease your body into sleepiness, but also because they’re high in protein for overnight muscle repair. That said, these certainly aren’t the only post-workout foods that also help with sleep — anything with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates will do. The foods you should skip? Sugary snacks and treats, heavy meals, and alcohol.
Let us know your favorite things to eat after a late-night workout in the comments!