5 Things to Do Tonight to Lose Weight TomorrowArticle posted in: Lifestyle
If you’re like most people, there are certain rituals you do every single night before bed—let the dog out one last time, get the coffee pot set for your morning brew, make sure that backdoor is locked… sound familiar?
These habits have become so ingrained in your night time routine that you lose sleep (literally!) if you don’t check them off your list.
But what if your bedtime routine didn’t just help you sleep better… it helped you lose weight, too? That’s right, there are a few simple things you can do every night that can add up to big time weight loss. Here are five of our favorites:
1. Snack Smart
There’s a reason so many people stick to the “no eating after 7 p.m. rule”: In a study from Brigham Young University, participants who were asked to abstain from eating between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. for two weeks lost 0.9 pounds per week, reducing their calorie intake by 238 per day. During weeks when they ate after dinner, they gained an average of 1.3 pounds per week.
But many experts contend that it isn’t so much the act of eating after a set hour that causes the weight gain. Rather, it’s the fact that tacking one more snack on to an already full day of eating can send you over your calorie needs for the day. Therefore, by reducing the overall hours during which you allow yourself to eat, there’s less opportunity to eat those 238 extra calories. Sound like a strategy worth trying? Here’s a helpful hint: Brush your teeth earlier in the evening. It can signal to you that you’re done eating, and can make everything a little less appetizing.
But, if you don’t want to do without your evening eats, you can still enjoy a night-time snack without wreaking havoc on your diet. Just be sure to spread lighter meals, like the Chocolate Caramel Lunch Shake, out over the course of the day to save room for your healthy snack. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating five to seven small daily meals including lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and fruits and veggies is the best strategy for weight loss—and if you’re spacing those out every couple of hours, eating 60 minutes before bed should be OK.
If you do opt for night-time noshing, make sure you are choosing the right stuff: Late-night snacks get a bad rap because they’re usually unhealthy, easy-to-grab indulgences that are high in carbs and sugars… and low on nutrition.
Instead, opt for a protein-rich option like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk or nuts: Protein synthesis is actually increased while you sleep, meaning the nutrient builds muscle better while you’re in bed. If you’re craving something sweet, the Fudge Brownie Bar has 11 grams of the stuff and only 90 calories: You can say, “so long” to that hankering!
Just don’t eat it in front of a screen: A 2013 review of past studies found that people who eat in front of the TV, while playing games or reading, consume more food while they’re sitting there—especially later in the day. So don’t sit on the couch with a bag or bowl of anything—have your snack at the table while you’re not distracted, and then return to your evening activities.
2. Sip Your Way to Sound Slumbers
There are lots of times when drinking water can be helpful with weight loss, but slugging back gallons before bed could actually hurt: Drinking lots of water before bed can cause late-night urination urges that can interrupt sleep. And getting a good night’s sleep is, as we’ll see, the most important thing you can do for weight loss at night.
But you may still confuse hunger for thirst, and you might just like something to drink in the evening. Give your beverage some weight loss-boosting powers and have something that will help you sleep: Use one chamomile tea bag and a bag of decaffeinated green tea to create a mixed tea.
Why this mix? Chamomile is traditionally used as a sleep aid, though clinical studies on its effects are few—one study suggests that the flavonoid apigenin may be at work by attaching to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, which can have a hypnotic effect. Leaving the caffeine out of the green tea means you won’t be overstimulated, and the green tea itself can help with weight loss: In one study, those who drank two cups of it each day for 90 days lost 2.6 more pounds than those who didn’t drink the tea.
Plus, the warmth may help stave off hunger: In a 2008 Penn State study, those who consumed hot liquids an hour before a meal ate 134 fewer calories when they sat down to eat.
3. Prep for Success
Do the future version of you some favors: Prep your food for tomorrow while you’re still up tonight. Pack a lunch that’s on plan and filling so you won’t be rushed and under-pack in the morning. Cut up vegetables and fruit for healthy snacks during the afternoon lull and for when you get home from work. Going to lunch with colleagues? Head online and look at the menu now: You can pore over it and be prepared to order a meal that will satisfy your hunger and your diet.
And track what you did today by reviewing a food journal of the day: Keeping a food diary—just writing down what they ate—helped participants in a 2008 study lose twice as much weight as those who kept no records of their eating.
Then do some non-food-related planning, too: Get tomorrow’s list of most important to-dos written down. That way, when you go to bed, you won’t lay up all night hoping you remember what you need to do in the morning—you can rest easy knowing it’s already on your list.
4. Set the Scene
Getting a good, restful night’s sleep is the most important thing you can do in your bedroom for your weight loss efforts. According to some research, losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep every weekday can result in weight gain and have significant effects on insulin resistance, increasing your risk for Type 2 diabetes.
First step: Make your room dark. Really, really dark. Research shows that exposure to even dim light during the night can mess up your internal clock, throwing off your eating schedule and potentially leading to weight gain. Early research in animal studies indicated that mice who slept while exposed to a dim light—like a computer monitor or alarm clock—gained 50 percent more weight over an eight-week period than those that slept in total darkness.
And don’t use your phone. Besides it being a dim light that can have those effects, the radiation from your phone can mean it will take longer for you to fall asleep, and you’ll spend less time in deep sleep once you do—that’s from a 2008 study conducted by the phone manufacturers themselves! And a 2014 study found that people engaging in phone use after 9 p.m. not only spent less time in deep sleep, but were more depleted in the morning and less engaged at work.
5. Meditate before bed.
Instead of scrolling through Instagram to wind down, try a mindfulness meditation to help you sleep. Studies have found that such meditations have reduced the total awake time and increased the total sleep time for insomnia patients.
To do a simple mindfulness meditation before bed, try this: Sit on the edge of your bed with your eyes closed and back straight. Breathe in and out naturally through your nose, and try to focus solely on the physical sensations of breathing: How much does your chest rise and fall? Do other parts of your body move? Think about how the air feels as it goes in and out of your nostrils. As other thoughts enter your mind, notice yourself getting distracted, acknowledge it, and return to thinking about your breathing.
If that’s not working, try counting your breaths. As you breathe in through your nose, say in your mind, “I am breathing in. One.” Then as you breathe out, say in your mind, “I am breathing out. Two.” Count up to 20, then repeat. Try to do a meditation like this for five minutes to start.