Carbs at night? Good or bad for weight loss?
Ah carbs. Who doesn’t love carbs! I don’t think we can be friends if you don’t love them.
I love carbs so much I’m going to dot point for you the health benefits of healthy* complex carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy
They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system
Dietary fibre (a type of carb) helps promote regular bowel movements, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels
Fibre also helps keep you full which can help with weight loss and maintenance
They fuel your brain! Have you ever been on a low carb diet and had a foggy brain? Your brain uses the most amount of carbs than any other muscle or organ in the body. The National Academy of Sciences recommends having at least 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. This is the minimum amount of carbohydrates needed to produce enough energy for the brain to function!
They actually keep you happy! Studies say that foods containing carbs have L-tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce the happy feeling neurotransmitter serotonin
It helps you sleep better. Carbs may boost tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals involved in sleep
*I say healthy carbohydrates because I don’t mean nutrient deficient carbohydrates sources. These are foods that contain refined carbohydrates with a low fibre content, or contain high amounts of refined sugar. These are foods such as cakes, cookies and other sweet foods made with white flour, white (processed) rice and refined sugar. I’m not saying don’t eat them at all - it’s important to have a healthy balance. We believe in the 80% 20% rule, which means 80% of the time eat healthy and 20% of the time enjoy your treat meals. But the carbs I am referring to with the health benefits are nutrient dense carbohydrate sources.
The Good and The Not As Good
Just to REALLY bring home my point about healthier vs not as healthy carbohydrates, below is an easy explanation to define the difference. Shout out to The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H Chan for this one.
The healthiest sources of carbohydrates (complex carbs) —unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients.
Unhealthier sources of carbohydrates (simple carbs) include white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods. These items contain easily digested carbohydrates that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.
But wait, what about the question in the title!?
Sorry, my passion for carbs made me ramble a bit. You’ve probably heard the wives tale that if you eat carbs after 6:00pm they will magically go into your fat cells and the next day you’re 1kg heavier, simply because of the time of day you decided to eat the carbs. Let me just put your mind at ease right now - THIS IS A MYTH. Well, sort of. It is true that carbs get converted into glucose for energy, which gets stored in your liver, muscles, and fat cells. But this isn’t about the food timing, but rather the daily calorie amounts. Eating too much of ANYTHING, whether that be fats, carbs or protein, will be stored as fat if you eat too much. If you eat more than your body needs, it’s going to get stored as fat.
In conclusion, it doesn’t matter if you decide to eat carbs at night - it actually can help with your mood and sleep! What matters is how many calories you’re consuming overall.
Caveat to this though is that it’s best to stick to complex carbs sources (refer to above) and avoid simple carb sources later in the evening. Eating complex carbs at night keeps you fuller for a longer period of time and won’t muck up your sugar levels so you don’t have a high and a crash coming into bed time.
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