Sometimes, having to pull an all-nighter is inevitable. Perhaps you have a deadline to meet, a project to finish, or an exam to study for. Whatever it is, you probably procrastinated and now it is down to crunch time.
Pizza and Mountain Dew may sound like the best foods to help you pull an all-nighter, but there are definitely better options to choose from that will help you survive the long hours while also boosting your performance.
Your typical go to late night meals, including Pizza and Mountain Dew, are high in sugar and carbohydrates. These provide quicks bursts of energy, but will eventually leave you more drowsy and less likely to complete all of your work on time.
Instead of choosing a larger, heavy, and high in carbohydrate meal, try snacking on smaller, healthier portions throughout the night.
Frequent, smaller portions that are full of healthy proteins and fats will help you maintain a steady blood sugar level and consistent energy throughout the night. Try each of these small meals throughout the night, eating every 2 hours or so:
9 pm- Protein rich shake with added vegetables and fruit. Add protein powder or some soft tofu to turn a typical smoothie into a protein packed drink.
11 pm- Healthy trail mix with a variety of nuts and fruits. Try to avoid trail mix with a lot of chocolate or pieces of candy added. Some dark chocolate may be beneficial as it contains antioxidants and natural stimulants.
1 am- Apples, berries, oranges, grapes, or other lower glycemic fruits that won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels. You may want to stick to fruits that are easy to eat or simply make sure you have them prepped, peeled, and diced ahead of time.
3 am- Bite sized broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, peppers, or other vegetables dipped in hummus.
5 am- If you are still working at this hour you may want to make some eggs for a full protein source to get you through the rest of your project.
Along with all of these small meals, have plenty of water to keep you hydrated. But also have coffee, tea, or whatever low-sugar caffeinated drink you prefer on stand-by.
The FDA recommends no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day for adults. So try to spread that out during your all-nighter. If you have a cup of coffee, you are probably ingesting 100-200 mg of caffeine. If you pair this coffee with one of your small meals, the release of caffeine will slow down, helping you avoid any jitters. It may be best to spread your cups of coffee out every 3 to 4 hours while you are working away.
Besides choosing protein and fat rich snacks or small meals over ones with excessive sugars and carbohydrates, you can follow a few other simple tips and tricks to help you make it through your all-nighter.
Keep the lights on, temperature moderate, and maybe even try some essential oils to keep you awake. Getting up to move every 30 minutes will also help you stay awake while avoiding any stiffness or pain from being in one position too long. Chewing gum also provides a nice burst of energy and freshness!
Once the all-nighter is over, be safe and avoid driving. Try to take a nap or get to bed early the next night to help you recover. Most importantly, don’t forget that your health is way more important than any deadline, project, or exam.