Sleep is the time your body moves from a sympathetic dominant (fight or flight) to a parasympathetic (repair and renew) dominant state. Even at rest, your body’s cells are replicating and replacing themselves as well as digesting food, dreaming and storing memories and thoughts from your day. All these processes require energy and will draw on the food you have eaten throughout the day AND that night.
The biggest impact will come from the type of food you eat before you go to bed. Let's say the last thing you consume is a block of chocolate and a bowl of ice cream, the sugar is digested into the bloodstream very quickly and if the energy requirement is not met immediately it will be stored in the body, usually as fat. So one could say that having alcohol and sugar (both very immediate sources of energy) will not be fully taken advantage of at that time, unless your next stop is the dance floor.
If you’re going to eat closer to bedtime, then make sure you keep the processed carbs and sugars low. These are empty energy sources and do not provide any of the building blocks to create new cells. Your body is made up of proteins and every cell has a fat/lipid layer. You’re much better off eating a meal high in quality protein and good quality fats than the devilishly, addictive, sugar sweetness that many of us crave late at night (i.e the Roasted Tomato & Chickpea Tagine above). Healthy fats such as coconut oil, organic and pasture raised meats, eggs, avocado and butter all help provide your body with the necessary building blocks to manufacture sleep hormones as well as slow down the release of the carbs you get from your salads and vegetables.
Your sleep will also improve. If you have a big sugar hit before bed, your body will burn that up first which will then result in a massive drop in your blood sugar level. This can stimulate hormones that don’t play well with sleep. As mentioned above, you want to eat whole, unprocessed foods that are slow burning to keep your blood sugar levels stable while sleeping.
To help you build the right fueling foundations, Tim has a four-week Clean & Lean Kickstarter challenge to get you started. Enter here.