If you have been dieting or trying to diet you’ve probably realized that breaking your diet often happens in the evening or at night time. Speaking from my own experience I wouldn’t just wakeup at 6am and go straight for the Ice Cream or chocolate. Usually after 8pm when we’ve eaten our evening meal we typically sit around watching TV or just simply relaxing, this is usually the worst time for us to break, binge and ruin our diets. This is prime time for the cravings to begin and takes significant mental resistance from raiding the fridge of its sugary contents. We check our myfitnesspal app, realise we’ve got little to no calories left in our food plan for the day and we go on the hunt through the cupboards. Craving to eat those high calorie foods like chips, cakes, crisps, chocolates is what puts us into a caloric surplus and causes us to put on weight, especially if we repeat this habit several times a week. The trouble with these foods is that they are so delicious, so calorie dense and more often we eat too much of them.
So this article is dedicated to helping you stay on diet in those later hours after 8pm and providing you with some lower calorie alternatives to dirty snacks. I’m going to go through a list of high calorie go to foods we all crave and give you some great alternatives that won’t kill your diet and will allow you to stay on track when those craving comes.
1# - Hot Chocolate
Who doesn’t like hot chocolate? Instead of having this, go and make yourself a cup of decaffeinated coffee. Add to this mocha coffee creamer by Walden Farms, which is near zero calories, carbs and fat. Then add a tea spoon of coca powder and if needed some extra sweetener if you really need it. Now you have a lovely hot night time drink.
Cadburys Hot Chocolate 3 heaped teaspoons 18g with 200ml Semi-Skimmed Milk
Decaffeinated Mocha with 10g Coca Powder
147 Calories Saved
#2 – Cereal
Personally, this is my kryptonite and is one of the worst foods to ruin your diet. Just one bowl of cereal has so many sugars and can easily reach 500+ calories per bowl with milk. Not only that you often still feel hungry after eating causing you to go back for a second helping. If you must eat cereal, then pick puff wheat cereal with no added sugar. For the volume, puff wheat has considerably less calories. If you want an extra crunch to your cereal you can add in some high fiber bran cereal, the stuff that looks like bird feed. Then on top of that add in strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. These are low calorie fruits and help with the sweet taste. Also, make sure you are using skimmed or unsweetened almond milk for less calories. Then sprinkle on your artificial sweetener. You will have a lot more volume and as there is more fiber and a lot less sugar in this alternative you are more likely to be satisfied when you finish our bowl.
Crunchie Nut 30g with 200ml Semi-Skimmed Milk
Holland & Barrett Puffed Buckwheat 25g, 5g Holland & Barrett Natural Wheat Bran, 50g Raspberries with 200ml Unsweetened Almond Milk
63 Calories Saved
#3 – Yoghurts
You really do have to stop eating regular yoghurts. For the size they are, they contain too many sugars, fats and are just too high calorie. Switch to a 0% fat, high protein Greek yoghurt with no sugar added. I like to pick those that have at least 10g protein per 100g. To get over the very bland taste mix in your strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries for whatever taste you desire. For extra taste add in your artificial sweetener. This is particularly good for a before bed snack as it contains slow digesting protein.
Activia Mixed Fruit Yogurt 120G
Fage - Total 0% Greek Yoghurt 100g + 25g Strawberries
45 Calories Saved
The above is to compare 120g vs 120g, but should you wish for more volume on your healthy alternative, add more strawberries at 25g a time for only 10 calories.
#4 – Apple Pie
Apple pie is a delicious pastry food, although it contains apple it is very high in calorie. Whether it’s home made or from the shop you can easily eat your way through 500+ calories. As an alternative, slice up an apple, sprinkle on some cinnamon powder with some artificial sweetener and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. This will give you a nice sweet apple pie crunch taste that you maybe craving for. If you need a bit of cream texture then why not add in the 0% Greek yoghurt and dip in the apple slices.
Asda Apple Pie 100g per Slice
Apple Slices, Cinnamon and Sweetener 100g
225 Calories Saved
#5 – Chocolate Bars
Probably everyone’s indulgence from time to time. Although very tasty, they contain a lot of fat and a lot of sugar. Instead of these buy protein bars. I’ve tried quite a few of these brands personally of different flavors. When purchasing try to buy those bars with no more than 20g of carbohydrates and at least 20g of protein.
The most popular brand and easiest to get your hands on at shops and fuel stations are Grenade, they have what I consider to be the best ratio of macros, but they aren’t always the best tasting and buying individual bars are often pricey. You can buy these from Amazon is packs of 12 and I consider their Jaffa Quake or “Jaffa Cake” flavor to be their best.
The best tasting protein bars I consider to be PHD, it maybe because I have a sweeter tooth than most, but if you’ve never eaten a Birthday Cake PHD protein bar you haven’t lived.
Amazon also have their own brand of protein bars and they’re actually really good. Try the chocolate fudge and tell me this does not diminish your craving for a mars bar. The Amfit bars are also around 40 calories less per bar than PHD and Grenade, so I prefer to have these in the cupboard. You’ll also find these cheaper than the other well known brands.
In summary, why eat another ordinary chocolate bar with empty calories, when you can purchase a macronutrient chocolate bar that’s actually really go for you. Another tip is to put these protein bars in the freezer, so they take longer to eat.
The comparison was made at 50g weight, as mars bars and different branded protein bars are in various weights.
Mars Bar 50g (regular size 51g)
Amfit Chocolate Fudge Protein Bar 50g (regular size 60g)
Calories Saved 63
#6 - Ice Cream
You’ve been there I’ve been there, whether it’s eating an ice cream cone while taking a walk in the park or having a tub of Haagen Dazs at movie night, it’s a delicious tasing food, but is full of calories, in 1 sitting you can easily consume 1000+ calories and that’s still with room left in your stomach. I suggest making your own low calorie ice cream using a blender and a few ingredients.
All you’ll need is a blender, 100ml unsweetened almond milk, 100g 0% Yoghurt (10g protein), 100g Banana, 100g Strawberry and 1 scoop of Whey protein, I suggest a flavor that complements the fruits like a Banana cream, French Vanilla or delicious Strawberry from Optimum Nutrition. You can use another fruit combination, but personally this is my favorite. This amount when blended will make a mixture including the air to around 500ml. Place this in the freezer and when ready you have a nice tasting low calorie ice cream significantly lower in calories. Does it taste better than Haagen Dazs Strawberries and Cream?…. probably not! Is it a good enough alternative to pass as Ice Cream and keep you on diet even if you eat the entire tub? You bet! You’ll also enjoy improving your recipe.
Haagen-Dazs Strawberries and Ice Cream (500g)
T5 Strawberry and Vanilla Low Calorie Ice Cream (500g)
Calories Saved 906
#7 – Peanut Butter
You may think it’s okay to have peanut butter on rice cakes, as a dip or a little spoonful before bed, but peanut butter is just not good for you! It contains too many calories for its weight and is one of the worst high calorie low volume foods. Even if you have some organic peanut butter, it is still going to have a high percentage of fat per serving. You should not have peanut butter it in your house, as it is very easy to have 2-3 spoonful’s and think you’re being healthy when you’ve just consumed 300+ calories. If peanut butter with all its fat is what you crave, then a lower calorie alternative like PPB is what you need with a high percentage of the fat removed. There is a Powdered Peanut Butter (PPB) sold at Holland and Barrett that is 70% less fat.
Sun Pat Smooth Peanut Butter (100g)
PPB Powdered Peanut Butter Original (100g) – 70% Less Fat
Calories Saved 212
#8 – Popcorn
Salty popcorn snacks are my go to in the evening, especially if there’s a good movie on. It’s very sad to have to not partake in eating while everyone else around you is grazing away like farm animals on their salty crisp or popcorn. Also, don’t be fooled by Skinny Popcorn snacks, as they are usually still high calorie for the volume you get. I suggest popping your own popcorn straight from the Kernel, so there’s no butter, oil or sugar. You will save almost half the calories of even skinny popcorn brands and to add flavor, just put on a little salt or sweetener for the taste you want.
To make your own popcorn you’ll need a brown paper bag and a ¼ (32g) cup of kernels. Please ensure your bag doesn’t have any metal staples and ensure that the brown bag has no holes or tears. Popcorn does not need oil to pop the kernels, so all you need is a microwave. The rays from the microwave penetrate the kernels and convert the moisture inside the kernel into steam, causing them to burst open into popcorn.
Metcalfe's Skinny Popcorn Sweet 'N Salt (100g)
Home Made Low Calorie Popcorn with Salt & Sweetener (100g)
Calories Saved 102
A diet shouldn’t be about restricting yourself from tasty food, but should be a lifestyle adjustment where you find lower calorie alternatives, so you can be in a calorie deficit to lose weight or a balanced calorie intake to maintain your current weight.
The food ideas to create this article came from a Video by Greg Doucette, which you can find on his YouTube channel here: