I have previously written several articles about fruits and how they greatly contribute to healthy dieting.
One question that keeps coming up about fruits is whether it is appropriate to include fruits in the evening snacks.
Looking it up on the internet, I see so many myths that probably explain why so many people are worried about eating fruits at night.
As usual, I will take the scientific approach here in trying to explain this phenomenon in a simplified manner.
So, should you eat fruits before going to bed?
In summary, studies have shown that eating certain fruits such as starchy fruits in large quantities before bed can cause spikes in your energy levels, thus interfering with your sleep pattern.
This sentence above doesn’t condemn eating all starchy fruits. It is about moderating the amount of starchy fruits you consume before bed.
Moderation is important here because as we shall see later, there are some starchy foods such as bananas that contain sleep-inducing minerals.
The important sleep-inducing minerals in bananas are magnesium and tryptophan that promote secretion of hormone melatonin, which according to the Sleep Foundation are good at promoting better sleep.
Why You Should Moderate on Starchy Fruits at Night
Fruits are good for you. But just like any other good things in life, their usage should be moderated for maximum benefits.
Generally, all fruits contain some form of sugars.
But what we are looking for here are fruits that contain carbs that can be easily converted into simple sugars.
As we all know, sugar intake can increase body activity levels due to increased calories in the body.
For a good night sleep, the body activity levels need to be kept at a minimum so that the brain and other organs can only perform the essential functions.
This means that high-calorie fruits are likely to temporarily increase your energy levels at night when your body activity is supposed to be at its minimum.
But again, it doesn’t mean that your body will store these calories and make you fat overnight.
A study on resting energy expenditure showed an increase in both overall metabolic rate (OMR) and sleeping metabolic rate (SMR) for the individuals who took part in the research.
This shows that the temporary increase in energy levels can be attributed to some increased metabolic activities at night.
Increased physical activity in the body organs means a disruption of the normal sleep cycle that you need when relaxing after dusk.
Should You Snack on Fruits After Dinner or Before Dinner?
Do not overthink it because it doesn’t matter what goes into the stomach first, second, third, or last.
As we saw earlier in this article here, our stomachs do not select the best time to digest different foods.
The digestion process is an auto-biological process that kicks in whenever food is available in the digestive system.
Every food that goes into the system has an equal chance of being digested and absorbed without being affected by a different meal taken before or after.
So, eating fruits before or after dinner will not affect their digestion or the digestion of other meals.
You can incorporate them into your diet plan at any time of the day but try to keep everything moderate.
So, Can You Eat Fruits Even at Midnight?
Trust me, some people have been genuinely troubled by this question.
The simple answer is yes; you can have fruits as a midnight snack, but you may need to moderate the intake as we said before.
Also, bear in mind that your metabolic rate is low at midnight especially if you are not involved in physical activities.
If you did not take dinner or you didn’t have enough to eat before going to bed, you may fill it up at midnight with some non-starchy fruits. See examples in the table below.
But I am assuming that this is a one-off thing and not a routine you want to establish because waking up to snack on fruits every night is not a good eating habit.
If you keep getting that feeling every other night, it might be another issue that may need medical attention.
I also know that there are people who work at night and their eating schedule may require midnight meals.
Maybe that is why this question came up.
If that is you, then know that the digestive system can accommodate food at any time.
Some people will even swear that midnight snaking is the reason why refrigerator manufacturers put that small light in the fridge! Very Funny.
Anyway, you can have your midnight meal or snack with comfort because as long as you are active, you can still burn those calories even at night.
It really depends on what your night schedule looks like.
But try not making midnight snacking a routine, lest you turn it into an eating disorder described as Night Eating Syndrome (NES) that affects many people than you can imagine.
Sleep experts also discourage night snacking because uninterrupted sleep (especially at night) is extremely important to your overall wellbeing.
Best Fruits to Eat at Night
Now that we know how fruits will work in our bodies when taken at night, it would be unfair if I signed out without recommending some specific common fruits for night snacking.
It is recommended that you should not take more than 200 kcal (calories) when late-night snacking.
If you look at some common fruits’ calories information at calories.info, you can easily identify some high-calorie fruits that you may want to limit in your fruity snack at night.
These are the starchy fruits I talked about earlier.
The other low-calorie fruits are good choices for fruit snacking.
See the table below for a summary of my best fruit picks and the ones to limit when making that night fruit salad.
Disclaimer: These are my personal random picks that should not in any way be used as your meal plan equivalent. Treat it only as a guide.
Best Fruit Picks for Night Snacking
|Fruit||Calories per serving||Reason|
|Kiwi fruit||93 kcal||High in serotonin that has relaxing effects and reduce cravings.|
|Apple||95 kcal||High in fiber and low in calories|
|Strawberries and blackberries||~50 kcal||Low calories with large servings. Also contains a considerably large amount of melatonin.|
|Tart cherries||4 kcal||High in melatonin hormone that induces sleep|
|Apricot||17 kcal||The fresh ones are so good and the low calorie does it for me|
|Greengage||2 kcal||Almost zero calorie fruit here.|
|Lychees||7 kcal||High fiber content and low in sugars|
|Olives||2 kcal||Another almost zero calorie fruit.|
|Passion fruit||17 kcal||Less sugar.|
|Fresh Plum||30 kcal||Low in sugar and high in fiber|
|Tamarind||5 kcal||Low carbs, nice fruit.|
|Bananas (just one piece)||111 kcal||1 piece is enough for its magnesium and tryptophan for inducing sleep.|
|Avocado (just half a piece)||320 kcal||The high calories come from its monounsaturated fats which in moderation help in digestion at night.|
Fruits you Should Avoid or Minimize Eating at Night
Most of the fruits I picked in this list are high-calorie fruits that will easily surpass the 200 kcal mark with only one serving.
You don’t want these high energy levels if you need a good night sleep.
However, you may include them in very small quantities in your nighttime fruit salads because some of them are also very rich in the magic sleep hormone melatonin.
Fruits you should Minimize when night Snacking
|Fruit||Calories per serving|
|Custard apple||136 kcal|
|Ripe Mango||202 kcal|
So, depending on your reason for fruit snacking at night, always bear in mind the level of activity versus the amount of calories you are consuming.
This is not only important for sleep but also in your weight loss or weight gain goals.
Have a fruitful night!