Hungry at night? Study proclaims cottage cheese the ideal before-bed snack

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — If you’ve been on the lookout for the perfect late night snack, look no further. Researchers from Florida State University say that cottage cheese before bed has a positive effect on the metabolism and overall health, helps promote muscle recovery, and doesn’t result in any body fat gains.

If cottage cheese isn’t exactly your snack of choice, the study’s authors say any helping of 30 grams of protein about a half hour before turning in for the night should do the trick.

For the study, a group of active young women in their early 20s were asked to eat cottage cheese 30-60 minutes before going to bed. Researchers specifically wanted to see what effect the cottage cheese would have on the participants’ metabolisms and muscle recovery process.

This study is especially noteworthy because it is among the first ever to have subjects consume a whole food product before bed, as opposed to a dietary supplement such as a protein shake.

“Until now, we presumed that whole foods would act similarly to the data on supplemental protein, but we had no real evidence,” comments Michael Ormsbee, Associate Professor of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at FSU, in a release. “This is important because it adds to the body of literature that indicates that whole foods work just as well as protein supplementation, and it gives people options for presleep nutrition that go beyond powders and shaker bottles.”

According to study co-author Samantha Leyh, a research dietitian with the U.S. Air Force, these findings will serve as a helpful jumping off point for future research investigating the impact of whole food consumption on precise metabolic responses.

“While protein supplements absolutely have their place, it is important to begin pooling data for foods and understanding the role they can play in these situations,” Leyh says. “Like the additive and synergistic effects of vitamins and minerals when consumed in whole food form such as fruits or veggies, perhaps whole food sources may follow suit. While we can’t generalize for all whole foods as we have only utilized cottage cheese, this research will hopefully open the door to future studies doing just that.”

Moving forward, the research team plan to conduct additional research on other potential late night snacks, in an effort to determine the optimal food choices one can make before bed in order to promote muscle regeneration and overall improved health.

“There is much more to uncover in this area of study,” Ormsbee concludes.

The study is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

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