Many students give up sleep to meet the demands of a busy schedule. The overall effect negatively impacts productivity. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you wake up frequently throughout the night? What stands between you and the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night? Could it be your nutrition?
Eating before bed can affect how well you sleep during the night (1). Heavy, high-fat foods may cause bloating and stomach pain that can keep you from a restful sleep. Spicy foods may cause heartburn or indigestion which can keep you up at night. However, going to sleep on an empty stomach can also cause a sleepless night. If you’re hungry, try a light snack, like a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk, about an hour before going to bed (2).
In addition to decreased energy and productivity, current research links inadequate sleep with weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Although exact causes are unclear, one theory for weight gain is that inadequate sleep disrupts hormone levels that regulate appetite and food intake (3). This means that a lack of sleep may cause you to eat.
Are you interested in learning more about sleep or nutrition? Health Promotion and Wellness offers free one-on-one wellness services to students. Topics include stress and time management, sleep, physical activity, nutrition, healthy relationships and sexual health. HealthWorks peer educators provide the services. These services are FREE and are in the Wellness Suite, 020 IM Building. To schedule an appointment, call 814-863-0461.
Your social network and schedule play a big role in the choices you make when it comes to nutrition. These choices can look different for everyone. Do your friends and family prefer to dine out or cook? Do you add meal times to your schedule or do you hope to get a meal in between other activities?
Dining out can be a great way to catch up with friends and family. However, the dining environment doesn’t always lend itself to healthy choices. Restaurants are notorious for serving large portions, heavily salted foods and high saturated fat content (1). Cooking at home can be a healthier alternative because you can control the ingredients including seasoning foods with spices other than salt and utilizing healthy fats such as olive oil or avocado oil. Plus, cooking for yourself is less expensive than dining out. Having friends and family support these choices can create a positive wellness environment.
Just as you schedule time for classes and meetings, scheduling time for meals is important to creating healthy living strategies. Food fuels your body and more specifically your brain. Taking the time to eat balanced and consistent meals and snacks can benefit your overall well-being. One study showed a significant association between happiness and consuming breakfast (2).
Creating a space to make healthy nutrition choices is important for overall wellness. Take a moment to think about whether your environment supports eating healthy. If you feel that it doesn’t and need help making changes schedule an appointment with a dietitian in Health Promotion and Wellness. Appointments are free and can be made on myUHS or by calling 814-863-0461.
- American Heart Association. Eat Fast Food. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/DiningOut/Eating-Fast-Food_UCM_301473_Article.jsp#.W3W7iIWcGUk. Accessed August 16, 2018.
- Lesani, A., Mohammadpoorasl, A., Javadi, M., Esfeh, J., Fakhari, A. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity. Dec. 2016: 21(4) 645-651.
Working out is important to your physical and mental health. You might have questions about what to eat before and after workouts. I have done some research on the topic and want to share my findings with you. Eating a snack before working out in the morning will provide a boost of energy because your body has been fasting during the night. Eating a snack before working out in the late afternoon will also provide much needed energy given that you probably eat lunch several hours earlier. Experts in the field recommend that you eat something within one hour after working out to maximize recovery, if you are not planning to eat a regular meal. Below are some examples of balanced snacks and meals that will help fuel your body.
The type of food you should eat before a workout depends on the type of activity that you have planned. For strength training, aim for a snack rich in protein. This may include 6 ounces low fat Greek yogurt and ¼ cup of almonds, string cheese or an energy bar with 8 or more grams of protein (1). For a cardio workout, complex carbohydrates are a great energy source. Examples include a small box of raisins (2 tablespoons), a small banana, or one slice of whole wheat bread with a thin layer of peanut butter. Try eating these foods 30-60 minutes before working out to allow time for digestion.
If you exercise immediately before a meal like breakfast or lunch, then skip the post-workout snack and fuel your body with a healthy meal that contains quality carbohydrates and protein. Base your meal on the MyPlate guidelines to ensure that it is balanced and contains each food group (3). One example of a well-balanced meal is hard cooked eggs with a slice of whole grain toast and 100% fruit juice or oatmeal with berries and milk (2). If you workout later in the morning, try having a grilled chicken salad (with vegetables, nuts, quinoa and fruit such as apples or cranberries to provide a well-rounded meal with protein, fats, and carbohydrates) or turkey sub with whole wheat bread and a side of veggies for lunch.
If you do not have a meal planned close to your workout, plan to have a snack to replenish carbohydrate stores and repair muscles. Examples of great post workout snacks include: one tablespoon of nut butter on apple slices, 6-8 ounces of low fat chocolate milk or a string cheese with a few whole grain crackers.
Remember to hydrate and rehydrate! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16-20 ounces of water at least 4 hours before working out and another 8-12 ounces 10 or 15 minutes after working out (4). Sip 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes during any work out that is less than 1 hour (1). Keep your body properly hydrated and fueled to get the best workout possible. We hope you have a fulfilling workout!
Written by HealthWorks member, Valerie Snell
- Wolfram, Taylor. “How to Fuel Your Workout”. Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 10 Jul. 2018, https://www.eatright.org/fitness/exercise/exercise-nutrition/how-to-fuel-your-workout
- Rosenbloom, Christine. “3 Easy Tips for Fueling Your Workout without Overdoing It.” Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics., 19 Oct. 2016, eatright.org/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/3-easy-tips-for-fueling-your-workout-without-overdoing-it.
- Michael N. Sawka, FACSM (chair); Louise M. Burke, FACSM, E. Randy Eichner, FACSM, Ronald J. Maughan, FACSM, Scott J. Montain, FACSM, Nina S. Stachenfeld, FACSM. American College of Sports Medicine Exercise and Fluid Replacement Position Stand