The One Food President Barack Obama Eats to Stay Awake

July 9th 2016

Tricia Tongco

President Barack Obama is no stranger to late nights.

In fact, he delivered an urgent speech this week in response to recent police shootings at half past midnight from Warsaw, Poland, where he was attending his last NATO summit.

But even without urgent issues to address, Obama, a self-proclaimed "night guy," only gets about five hours of sleep each night, staying up late after having dinner with his wife and daughters in order to spend four or five hours alone, according to a recent New York Times feature.

His lack of sleep isn't surprising, considering his occupation.

But the article does highlight one surprising fact – Obama rarely drinks coffee, tea, or soda to stay up.

So, if he's not reliant on caffeine, what does he use for fuel to stay awake?

According to The Times, his only late-night snack is seven lightly salted almonds.

Sam Kass, formerly the Obama family’s personal chef, told The Times:

“Michelle and I would always joke: Not six. Not eight,” Kass said. “Always seven almonds.”

A 2013 Harvard study found that eating nuts every day is linked to a healthier, longer life, and significantly reduces risk of dying from cancer. Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who has also researched health benefits of nuts, told the Harvard Health blog:

“Eating nuts lowers LDL (“bad” cholesterol), raises HDL (“good” cholesterol) and also lowers blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress.”

Plus, this protein-filled snack is pretty guilt-free. Seven almonds only has 43 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 10 mg of sodium, Yahoo notes.

So, that's where you get your energy, Obama.

You might be wondering why he needs so much time alone and what he's doing in the wee hours of the morning.

Well, according to The Times, he considers those four or five hours of solitary time as essential to his tenure as president. His nightly routine includes working on speeches, reading briefing papers, and reading 10 letters from Americans picked by his staff.

But Obama knows how to unwind, too. On any given night, he might be watching ESPN, reading novels, or playing Words with Friends on his iPad, The Times reports.

Read more about how the president spends his nights in "Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone."