Picture this: it’s 10 PM and you’re so hungry that your growling stomach is sure to keep you from falling asleep. So you grab some chocolate, or a handful of trail mix, or pretzels. Sound familiar?
But is 10 PM really the right time of day to eat? Most would argue it’s not wise. But do you understand the science behind it?
Today’s guest, Kevin Jones, shares how to determine when you should be eating. The recipe that follows is a great example of what you should be eating – a healthy, high-protein, dairy & gluten free dinner that’s perfect following a workout or simply a busy day at work!
Breaking Down the Details on the Best Times of the Day to Eat
About The Guest Author: Kevin Jones writes for a number of sites across the web, sharing his wisdom and expertise in the health and fitness industry. He has written extensively for NordicTrack and ProForm, offering out-of-the-box workout plans and nutritional advice. During his free time, he likes to be very active with his wife and two children, hitting the slopes of Park City, Utah or chasing down Salt Lake City’s Korean food trucks. Connect with him online; LinkedIn – Twitter.
My grandmother – a very opinionated woman – has always been very vocal about the way you should eat, and when. Her philosophy, passed to me in my formative years, was that you eat heavy in the morning, heavier in the afternoon, and light in the evening. “And none of that silly no-fat nonsense…give me my butter, or lose a hand!”
For a long time I ignored these lessons, eating with the gusto and carefree nature of youth. Now that I am older, and I have to think of weight gain, heart health, and indigestion, I have started wondering if she was right.
We all know that healthy food is good food. But what are the best times to eat it?
Erratic Diets and The Harm They Do
Eating irregularly is bad for you. That might seem like a drastic statement, but it has been shown to be true again and again. A study by Harvard University found that just a few days of eating on an opposing schedule could cause serious sugar and insulin spikes where none had been present before.
Another study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that nighttime eating could cause an increase in weight gain. Still another found that late eating impacted circadian rhythms and disrupted sleep patterns.
So, to recap, eating late at night, or just in a way that is different than your usual pattern of meals, can screw with your blood sugar levels, your sleep, and even make you fat. That seems like a pretty serious thing to me.
Eating Post Workout
Another factor to keep in mind is when working out. Exercise taxes the body, eats up all the food-provided energy in the system, and puts strain and tears within muscles that need to be repaired. Protein rich snacks or meals following intense activity are crucial for the body to function properly.
But did you know dehydration may keep you from getting the nutrients you need? Long distance runners are familiar with runner’s trots. But anyone can experience diarrhea following a workout, often sparked by improper hydration.
What All This Tells Us
We can make a couple of assumptions about diet based on the above facts. First, eating late at night is a no-no. Second, proper hydration is crucial for proper nutrient retention. Third, our bodies are delicate tools that have to be properly balanced.
Eat well, eat often, and don’t eat too late. Oh, and keep drinking water. While the eight glasses a day rhetoric may be a myth, the need for keeping ourselves nice and hydrated is not.
With that in mind, here’s a protein rich meal that’s great for dinner! Tofu’s texture is not for everyone, but when pressed and roasted, it’s much more palatable! Pair this with a simple puree of roasted vegetables, and you’ve got dinner in the bag. Enjoy!
Roasted Tofu with Roasted Vegetable Puree
Makes 4 servings
- 1 block firm tofu, drained
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 4 large stalks of celery, chopped
- 4 whole cloves garlic
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil, salt and pepper – to roast
- 1/2 C vegetable stock, warmed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Roasted pepitas, to garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil and spray with oil.
Wrap the drained tofu block in a clean tea towel and place a heavy object on top of it, like a heavy pan or book. Let this sit while you prep the veggies.
Chop all the veggies – neatness doesn’t count in this recipe! Lay them out on one of the baking sheets with the garlic and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Stir a bit and make sure the veggies are in a single layer. Roast at 400 for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Slice the pressed tofu into long, thin strips. Place in a single layer on the second baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, until dry and crispy. It’s best to put the tofu in the oven 10 minutes after the vegetables have been in.
Once the vegetables are roasted, transfer them to a blender, along with the warmed vegetable stock, seasonings, and vinegar. Puree until smooth, taking care to let steam escape from the lid by removing the middle piece and holding a towel loosely over the top. Taste and adjust as desired.
Pour the vegetable puree into four bowls. Top with the roasted tofu strips and garnish with roasted pepitas. Enjoy hot!