Paneer lovers are in luck. The findings of a new study suggest that a protein-filled late-night snack, like cottage cheese (paneer), can have a positive effect on muscle quality, metabolism and overall health. More importantly, for those who have sworn off eating at night, there is no apparent gain in body fat by consumption of paneer.
Generally, nutritionists and weight-loss experts advise staying away from late-night snacking as our metabolic system is least active at night. Traditionally, eating at night has been considered to induce weight gain. However, this new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, by researchers of the Florida State University (FSU), seems to contradict this belief. In the study, participating active young women in their early-20s were asked to consume samples of cottage cheese 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. The researchers specifically wanted to see if this late-night snack may have an impact on metabolic rate and muscle recovery.
Associate professor of nutrition, food and exercise sciences, Michael Ormsbee, and former FSU graduate student Samantha Leyh, were surprised to learn that consuming protein as a late-night snack might actually be good for your health. This is the first time that participants in a study were asked to consume whole foods, instead of a protein shake or some form of supplement. “Until now, we presumed that whole foods would act similarly to the data on supplemental protein, but we had no real evidence,” Prof Ormsbee said. “This is important because it adds to the body of literature that indicates that whole foods work just as well as protein supplementation, and it gives people options for pre-sleep nutrition that go beyond powders and shaker bottles.”
Ms Leyh, who now works with the Air Force as a research dietitian, says the results serve as a foundation for future research on precise metabolic responses to whole food consumption. “While protein supplements absolutely have their place, it is important to begin pooling data for foods and understanding the role they can play in these situations,” she said. “Like the additive and synergistic effects of vitamins and minerals when consumed in whole food form such as fruits or veggies, perhaps whole food sources may follow suit. While we can’t generalize for all whole foods as we have only utilized cottage cheese, this research will hopefully open the door to future studies doing just that.”
Prof Ormsbee believes that “there is much more to uncover in this area of study,” and is hoping to lead his research team in examining more pre-sleep food options. The researchers are hoping to conduct longer-term studies in the future to learn more about the optimal food choices that can aid individuals in recovery from exercise, repair and regeneration of muscle and overall health.