Prepare to Gain Weight If You Eat These 8 Foods After Dinner

Especially if you're dieting, 'just before bed' is the time your hunger seems fiercest. While researchers are still studying the effects of eating at night on your weight, there are certainly foods that can disrupt your sleep cycle. This will disrupt your metabolism's ability to burn calories for you and you'll likely binge on sugary foods and derail your gym progress if you're too tired to make it through a fat-blasting workout.

You may also know the only way to keep cookies and cakes out of your dreams is to have an evening snack. If you need to hit the fridge or pantry in the evening, avoid these eight foods that will make it impossible to get restful sleep and, in turn, pack on the pounds.

1. Cereal

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A tasty bowl of your favorite sweet cereal is a popular craving when you're finding it hard to sleep. But most cereals are loaded with sugar and carbs which heightens your blood sugar levels, causing an overproduction of insulin and—finally—a crash. You'll wake up hungry for more sugar foods as you search for another quick burst of energy, but you're ignoring what your body actually needs.

Instead, Cooking Light suggests topping plain Greek yogurt with a whole-grain, high-fiber cereal (≥4 grams/serving) for a high-protein treat that won't keep you up past your bedtime.

More: 15 Actually Healthy Cereals

2. High-sugar fruits

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These foods are undoubtedly healthy, but fruits that are high in sugar—think tangerine, mango and even grapes or banana—won't make sleep an easy task.

If you want to have a healthy fruit at night, opt for berries!

3. Frozen meals

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Microwavable meals are loaded with sodium which acts as a natural preservative for the food. This excess salt leads to water retention in the body (read: belly bloat), so avoid the temptation of convenience.

Instead, up every dinner recipe a little for easy-to-grab leftovers of your favorite healthy meals. You could also keep frozen veggies and proteins handy to make your own 'TV dinners' at home.

4. Chocolate

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If you only have chocolate on the brain, chances are you aren't hungry at all. This sweet treat is just added calories and unnecessary sugar, plus the caffeine in it can keep you up late.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a with a flavorful hot (decaf) tea or, if you really need dessert, eat half a graham cracker with a tablespoon of hazelnut spread.

More: 50 Recipes to Satisfy Your Chocolate Craving

5. Any low-fat snack

This buzzword makes you instantly think what you're eating is healthy and weight loss-friendly, but research suggests that people eat at least 30 percent more when they know what they're eating is low in fat. This means you're overeating and the food's fat has likely been replaced with another harmful ingredient (usually sugars) to enhance the flavor. The smarter option here would be to enjoy a healthy fat like avocado! A little guacamole before bed never hurt anyone.

More: 30 Days of Low Calorie Snacks

6. Microwave popcorn

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You can't watch your nightly sitcoms without a handful (erm, bowl) of popcorn? The snack itself is actually a healthy option that can promote weight loss! The butter and oils added, on the other hand, are wrecking your diet and your health.

Eat up: just pop the kernels yourself and enjoy no more than three cups of plain, air-popped popcorn.

7. Fruit juice

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Again, a blood sugar spike before bed isn't what you need to get a good night's sleep and let your metabolism go to work. And most fruit juice flavors highlight those foods highest in sugar.

Ideally, water would be your go-to drink in the evening. But if you need a sleepy time tea to relax, sip a decaffeinated cup and sleep tight knowing you'll wake tomorrow well rested and a little lighter!

More: Fruits and Veggies to Avoid When Losing Weight

8. Rice cakes

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This seemingly light and harmless snack is really just a circle of carbs. Weight loss specialist Charlie Seltzer told Cosmopolitan that your body converts the carbs into simple sugars and sends it straight into the blood stream. Not only do you experience a sugar high, your body counters it by producing excess insulin, leading to low blood sugar and hunger (again!).

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Instead of finding yourself stuck in this vicious cycle, just enjoy peanut butter spread on a slice of whole-wheat toast.

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