Evening and late night hunger can be detrimental to a weight loss plan and can often steer individuals in a direction that derails their efforts. Weight loss occurs when there is a negative energy balance, meaning that more calories must be burned than consumed. There are no fruits that can be considered a magic bullet for weight loss. However, fruit is a nutrient dense snack, which means it contains more vitamins and minerals relative to its caloric content (see ref 1). Many fruits can be excellent choices for late night snacks and can be paired with other nutrient dense foods to prevent overeating at night.
Apples and Berries
Apples make a great snack at any time of day, with only 95 calories in a medium apple. A 2015 study published in Nutrition Journal concluded that whole apple consumption is associated with a lower prevalence of obesity (see ref 2). Another low-calorie fruit snack is berries. Eating 1 cup of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries will set you back roughly 50 calories (see ref 3). Berries provide fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C. The fiber that apples and berries contain give a sense of fullness that will keep you satisfied.
Citrus, Kiwi, Melon
The vitamin C powerhouses of citrus, kiwi and melon are also low-calorie options for late night snacking. An orange the size of a fist will have approximately 70 calories (see ref 4) and will give you a good boost of folate and potassium. Kiwi can give you double the amount of vitamin C of an orange for roughly 60 calories (see ref 5, p443). Melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are all high in water, which means they are typically high in volume and low in calories -- making them an excellent choice on any weight loss plan. All three are low calorie, nutrient dense choices for late night snacking, and they will all satisfy a sweet tooth.
All Fruit Is Good Fruit
All fruit should be considered a good choice when needing a snack to settle hunger pangs at night. A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association concluded that increasing fruit consumption may lead to weight loss (ref 6). The USDA recommends two to four servings of fruit per day. If hunger kicks in at night, do a mental inventory of what you have eaten over the course of the day. If fruit intake has been low, your weight loss plan should include a serving of fruit as a snack at night.
What to Pair With Your Fruit
Pairing your fruit with another healthy food is a great way to gain satiety in late night snacking. Adding 1 tablespoon of nut butter to an apple adds healthy fat and may help you feel satisfied. Greek yogurt with berries, a serving of low-fat cheese paired with an orange or a few whole wheat crackers alongside melon are also great options. Always keep in mind that foods paired with fruit should be accounted for in your total caloric intake. Eating at night does not need to halt your weight loss efforts. Making smart choices, such as choosing a serving of fruit, can keep you on track.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Practice Paper: Nutrient Density - - Meeting Nutrient Goals within Calorie Needs
- Nutrition Journal: Consumption of Apples is Associated With a Better Diet Quality and Reduced Risk of Obesity in Children: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2010
- Driscoll's: Berry Nutrition Facts
- USDA Nutrient Database: Oranges
- Canadian Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology: Kiwifruit: Our Daily Prescription for Health
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Dietary Intakes Associated with Successful Weight Loss and Maintenance During the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial