Health advice tends to be predictable and most of us already know what we should be doing (even if we aren’t actually following those ideas).
One example is that many people swear you shouldn’t ever eat before bed. But, that idea isn’t necessarily true.
Instead, eating late at night can offer some health benefits.
And, having cottage cheese before bed ends up being a particularly good option.
Why Eat Cottage Cheese?
Cottage cheese sounds like an odd choice, right?
Certainly, this isn’t the most exciting food out there and it looks a little strange as well.
Well, first of all, cottage cheese does tend to be considered a health food. This is partly because it is low in fat while offering key nutrients, particularly protein and calcium.
Specifically, 100 grams of cottage cheese contains 12 grams of protein, along with 61 milligrams of calcium and all of the 9 essential amino acids (1). This makes cottage cheese fairly powerful in terms of nutrition.
At the same time, our bodies digest cottage cheese slowly, resulting in a slow release of energy. This occurs because cottage cheese contains a significant amount of casein.
The slow digestion means that your body is breaking down the cottage cheese throughout the night. Because of this, cottage cheese acts as a continuous source of tryptophan and other amino acids that promote sleep (2).
The release of tryptophan is partly why other dairy products often work well for promoting sleep (like yogurt or a glass of warm milk). But, the casein content of cottage cheese does potentially make it more effective than many other options.
So, cottage cheese can help you to get to sleep and the high protein nature aids in this area too.
The calcium in cottage cheese can also help to relieve some gastrointestinal symptoms, including an upset stomach and heartburn (5).
That outcome is particularly important for eating before bed – as any type of stomach upset is going to make it harder to sleep.
Indeed, people with acid reflux have particular issues eating before bed, as lying down can make the reflux worse. For some people, cottage cheese may be an especially good way to have a snack before bed without paying for it later.
The mild taste is also appealing right before bed and means that you’re not stuck with a significant aftertaste.
Other Things to Consider
Despite the advantage of this snack, you do need to be a little careful with cottage cheese.
In particular, the slow digestion means that it mixes poorly with some other foods. This means that if you eat meat with cottage cheese, then the meat may not fully digest, which can cause gastrointestinal issues.
As such, if you’re going to have a snack before bed, it’s best to pick either cottage cheese or meat, not both.
Cottage cheese is also a dairy product. This means that it isn’t a good choice for anyone lactose intolerant or for vegans.
The one other thing to note is that cottage cheese is relatively high in sodium and is still a source of calories.
This doesn’t mean that you should avoid using it as a snack. But, as with any food, it’s important to consider cottage cheese in relation to your overall diet and physical activity levels.
While cottage cheese before bed is an effective snack, it isn't the best choice for everybody
Cottage Cheese and Bodybuilding
On a side note, cottage cheese is often chosen by bodybuilders.
This pattern comes down to the protein because you need to keep your protein intake high if you’re trying to gain muscle. This is also relevant for weight loss, as you need to at least maintain your lean muscle while you are losing fat (6).
As a result, protein is a great choice at night if you’re interested in body composition. Plus, as I mentioned before, it’s good option to simply avoid being hungry.
The site Breaking Muscle offers some advice about what other foods you can focus on.
Cottage cheese can be especially relevant if you're trying to gain or maintain muscle
Should You Eat Before Bed Anyway?
The idea of eating before bed is controversial and I have covered it elsewhere.
However, the general claim is that you shouldn’t eat late at night because your metabolism slows down when you sleep. Theoretically, this would contribute to weight gain. That concept suggests that you probably shouldn’t eat cottage cheese before bed.
But, the research doesn’t support that idea at all.
Now, eating before bed can still be a problem for some people, as it can promote bad eating patterns (like snacking when you’re not actually hungry).
However, there isn’t anything wrong with the process itself.
In some cases, eating before bed even has the potential to help you lose weight. After all, high protein snacks can help to fight hunger and this makes it easier for some people to decrease their calorie intake.
Eating before bed can actually be healthy and may help promote good sleep, while also stabilizing blood sugar and decreasing snacking
Best Snacks to Eat Before Bed
The end result is that cottage cheese before bed is a great snack that can promote sleep and indirectly offers health benefits.
But, eating cottage cheese on its own isn’t the most appealing idea for many people. After all, the product is rather bland.
As I mentioned before, combining cottage cheese with meat often isn’t a good choice, although you might be able to manage this if you aren’t having much meat.
There are other options too.
Spreading cottage cheese on vegetables is another option, such as cottage cheese on celery.
If you really don’t like cottage cheese, then you could also get your casein another way, such as through a protein shake. Now, you’d have to specifically find a shake that offers casein, rather than whey protein. However, these do exist and are often targeted towards bodybuilders.
More than anything, the idea is to find a solution that works for you.
This may involve trying out different snacks and figuring out what tastes good and helps you sleep. After all, our bodies do have their own quirks and what works for one person simply isn’t effective for another.
Still, cottage cheese before bed is a great place to start and you might be surprised at just how effective this snack is.
Want to Improve Your Health?
Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use.
Check out my recommended products to see where you can get started.
What snacks do you focus on before bed? Or, do you just skip food altogether?