Late Night Study Snacks

When you’re hungry after dinner and need a pick-me-up during extended hours of studying, what is the best food to eat?

College is notorious for late night study sessions after long days full of classes, sports practice, eating and hanging with friends. So when you’re hungry after dinner and need a pick-me-up during extended hours of studying, what is the best food to eat?

First thing’s first. When it comes to brainpower, your body runs on glucose from carbohydrates for the brain to function. A snack of primarily protein and fat won’t lead to a productive night in the library so let’s discuss what the best food options are. Some foods are easy to make at home and others you can purchase with your meal plan and dining dollars for your convenience. Top Picks are suggestions for simple snacks you can make easily, digest easily before bed and won’t make you tired when studying.

Whole Grains consist of the bran, endosperm and germ which all contain different vitamins and minerals. These minimally processed grains release glucose slowly in the body over time, whereas processed white breads, pasta, rice and cereal will give you a quick boost of energy and then rapidly drop resulting in feeling tired. Paired with more carbs from fruit or dairy (which also has protein to keep you full) and you have yourself a well-balanced snack!

Top Picks:

  • Tabbouleh + hummus + whole wheat pita chips or carrots + celery
  • Quinoa salad with grilled chicken and vegetables
  • Low sugar, whole grain cereal with fresh berries and low-fat milk or yogurt
  • Lightly salted popcorn
 

Oily Fish provides us with essential fatty acids the body cannot make on its own. Omega-3 FA’s contain anti-inflammatory properties that help athletes reduce muscle inflammation post exercise. Foods like salmon and trout are best, in addition to non-fish sources including ground flaxseed, soy beans, pumpkin and chia seeds and walnuts. In preparation, it’s important to grind flaxseed for easy vitamin and mineral absorption and to soak chia seeds for increased hydration benefits {see recipe below}.

Top Picks:

  • Canned salmon spinach salad with EVOO, liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce, shelled soy beans, chopped red onion, and shredded carrots
  • Plain Greek yogurt with oats, ground flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and blueberries
  • Chia seed pudding with shredded coconut and dried fruit.
 

Tomatoes are rich in a powerful antioxidant called lycopene that could potentially help protect against free radical cell damage, which occurs in the development of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease.

Top Picks:

  • Tomato, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, basil, mozzarella and spinach salad
  • Tomato, avocado toast with lemon, cracked red pepper and sea salt
  • Tomato, cucumber, red onion salad with white vinegar and EVOO paired with whole grain pita chips
 

Nuts are high in vitamin E which studies suggest help to prevent cognitive decline. Leafy green vegetables, asparagus, olives, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains are also good sources.

 

Pumpkin Seeds are rich in the mineral zinc which is important for enhancing memory and thinking skills. They contain magnesium, B vitamins and tryptophan, the precursor to the good mood chemical serotonin that is linked to reducing stress.

Top Picks:

  • Plain Greek yogurt with pumpkin seeds, pumpkin puree, honey and cinnamon
  • Spinach salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and nuts
  • Trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
 

Blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short term memory loss, as evidence by a study from Tufts University. They are in season during the summer but can be purchased frozen in bulk year-round to be used in smoothies, cereal, yogurt, and baked goods.

Top Picks:

  • Frozen blueberry, strawberry, banana smoothie with plain Greek yogurt, honey and cinnamon
  • Whole grain toast with almond or peanut butter and fresh blueberries
  • Fresh blueberries, sliced almonds and cottage cheese

 

Snacks Before Bed

So what about a snack right before bed?  It’s best to consume your last snack at least one hour before sleeping to aid digestion before you hit the hay. You’ll want to eat something that doesn’t keep you up all night. Evidence shows whole foods (rather than liquid) that are high in carbohydrate, specifically high glycemic index foods tend to cause the body to become more tired after eating. Adequate intake of total calories and somewhat high protein intake >20% total calories has been shown to be beneficial.

Top Picks:

  • Pasta salad with vegetables and balsamic dressing
  • Tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato
  • Rice and beans with avocado and salsa
  • Yogurt with honey and dried fruit

 

Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

1/3 cup chia seeds

1 cup Liquid: almond, coconut, cows or soy milk, water or 100% juice

 1/3 cup Mixture of toppings:

  • Flavor: Cinnamon (can be added while chia is being infused), dark chocolate, cocoa powder, honey, coconut
  • Fresh fruit: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, figs, peaches
  • Dried fruit: apricots, papaya, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, figs, strawberries, tart red cherries
 

Directions: In a glass jar, pour chia seeds then add liquid of choice. Cover jar with lid and shake for 30 seconds so chia seeds are equally dispersed in liquid. Store in fridge for at least 1 hour.  Pour 1 cup of chia pudding in container and cover with toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

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