Milk and cereal have always been the go-to breakfast option in many households. The mixture is so good that some people extend it to lunch and other meals.
That said, most people still aren’t sure whether it’s okay to eat cereals before bed.
So, is it okay to have cereals during dinner time or as a midnight snack?
Well, from a food science perspective I will generally say it’s okay to eat cereals at night in moderation. However, you should also consider factors such as the cereals’ sugar and fiber contents, what you’ve had the rest of the day, and whether you’re really hungry before having them for dinner.
Let’s look further into the benefits or drawbacks of eating breakfast cereal at different points of the day. Keep reading to find out whether you should eat cereals at night.
Is it Okay to Eat Cereals Before Bed?
Eating cereal before bed can go both ways. Although cereals can seem comforting at any time of day, most of them are not similar in terms of ingredients and nutritional content.
Therefore, the type of cereal you eat (and what you eat it with) will ultimately determine how your body handles it. Here are some things to consider before eating cereal at night.
Sugar and Fiber Content
Complex carbohydrates have fibers that can slow sugar absorption into the bloodstream. Keeping sugar levels constant is not only important in reducing the risk of diabetes but also in the quality of your sleep.
If you eat high sugar content foods, you increase the chances of that food being stored in fat cells. Therefore, if you want to eat cereal before bed, choose one with low sugar and high fiber content.
You can also pair it with a milk source that is high in protein, like soy milk or dairy milk.
The Amount of Cereal
The amount of cereal you eat before bed is also an important consideration. It should be a snack-size serving, not a complete meal.
If you eat too much cereal at night, it might cause discomfort and make it hard for you to sleep.
What You Ate the Rest of the Day
One of the most important things you should consider before having cereal at night is what you had the rest of the day.
If you’ve already had a fair amount of carbohydrates and sugar throughout the day, you should avoid sugary cereal at night.
Are You Hungry?
It’s also essential to think about why you want to have cereal before going to bed. If you’ve not eaten anything for dinner or you’re hungry, it makes sense to snack on some cereals. After all, it’s hard to fall asleep on an empty stomach.
However, if you aren’t hungry and just want to munch on something, chances are that it’s just a mental appetite that will go away on its own.
What Happens if You Eat Cereals at Night?
As we’ve already established, all cereals are not the same. Therefore, different things can happen if you eat various types of cereal at night.
However, since most cereals are high in sugars and carbohydrates, eating them at night could have adverse effects in the long run.
For one, the quality of your sleep might be affected if you have too much sugar content before bed. You might also gain weight if it becomes a habit.
Does Eating Cereal Before Bed Make You Fat?
This depends on a few factors. Generally, it’s not advisable to have high sugar, high-calorie foods right before bed.
This is because apart from what you eat, weight gain also depends on your ability to burn calories, which you don’t do in your sleep. Therefore, if you eat lots of cereal before bed, you might gain weight after some time.
However, it’s okay to eat cereal before bed in exceptional circumstances, such as if you don’t take breakfast. If dinner is the last meal you have before lunch, it’s unlikely to affect your weight because you’ll burn the calories in the morning.
It’s also justified to eat cereal before bed if you had a light or no lunch. Going to bed while you’re hungry will affect the quality of your sleep.
Will Eating Cereal for Dinner Help You Lose Weight?
This will also depend on what type of cereal you eat, how much of it you eat, and your other eating habits. If, for instance, you’ve been having junk food for dinner, then switch to low sugar, high fiber cereal; it will definitely help you lose weight.
On the other hand, if you’ve been having a healthy, well-balanced dinner and switch to high carb, high sugar cereals, you will gain weight instead. The key here is to reduce sugar intake and have a fiber-rich diet.
That said, weight loss is a long journey with many changes you need to make. There are better diets than breakfast cereal to help you lose weight. You also need to hydrate more and work out.
Why Do You Have Those Cereal Cravings at Night?
Food cravings can range from a mild distraction to a complete obsession. Either way, although common, craving cereal at night is not a healthy sign. Here are a few things that might be causing the cravings.
Your Body Lacks Carbohydrates
Cereals are an essential source of sugars and carbohydrates. As a result, if you’re craving cereals at night, you’re probably not eating enough carbs during the day.
Carbohydrates are important nutrients that the body uses to perform everyday tasks. Therefore, you should try to eat enough during the day, especially if you’re physically active.
Some women crave high sugar, high-fat foods in the premenstrual stage of their cycle. This is just a result of hormonal influence.
If you only experience these cravings before your periods, it’s natural, and there’s nothing to worry about.
Sometimes an insatiable craving might be a sign of chronic stress. Stress creates an ongoing metabolic response which can eventually lead to weight gain, depression, or lifestyle diseases.
If you suspect that your cravings result from chronic stress, it’s essential to seek help as quickly as possible.
What Cereal Is Good to Eat at Night?
If you have to eat cereals at night, you need to be picky with their nutritional contents. An excellent way to confirm is by checking the list of ingredients on the packaging.
Here are some of the qualities you should check in cereals before eating them at night:
Natural Whole Fibers
You need to be mindful of the types of fibers found in cereals like granola bars. There are several types of fibers in cereals, some of which are intrinsic (natural and intact), while others are added or synthetic fibers.
Generally, added and synthetic fibers don’t have the same benefits as natural whole fibers. Therefore, try to eat cereals made from grains like shredded wheat, buckwheat, and hemp, which are great sources of natural dietary fiber.
To increase your fiber count, you can also add fruits or vegetables to your cereals while you enjoy them at night.
No Added Sugars
Reading your cereal’s ingredients will also help you determine if it has added sugars. These sugars can come in many forms and aren’t always identifiable.
Other names include maple syrup, brown sugar, fruit juice, turbinado sugar, honey, molasses, brown rice, corn syrup, and any ingredient with the suffix “-ose.”
Although some of these sugars might be advertised as natural sweeteners, they have no nutritional value. They might actually be similar to white sugar where it matters: caloric density and effects on blood glucose.
It’s therefore essential to choose a cereal with no added sugars to eat at night. You can always sweeten it by adding fresh, canned, or frozen fruits.
How Much Cereals Should You Eat Before Bed?
Even after picking a very nutrient-dense cereal option, you still need to be aware of serving sizes. It’s also important to remember that serving sizes vary.
For instance, a serving of cold cereal can be 3/4 to 1 cup, while a serving of puffed cereal might be more than 1 cup.
It’s therefore essential to have just enough cereal to last your body till breakfast.