What’s the Best Time to Eat Carbs Without Gaining Weight?
Carbs are still the bad guy for many health conscious people. And while most of us are happy to eat low-starch, complex carbohydrates like leafy vegetables, without fear of gaining weight, the same isn’t true for more carb-dense foods like rice, potatoes and bread – even the wholegrain, unprocessed types.
I’ve noticed a resurgence in an old trick that health-conscious devotees use to eat more substantial carbs without affecting their health and body goals.
Rearranging your carb intake so you eat the bulk of your carbs in the morning.
It’s based on the belief that carbs eaten in the morning are burned off as you go about your daily business, whereas carbs eaten in the evening are simply stored as fat.
That’s the theory, but is it actually true?
In a word: No. Weight gain is not determined by when you eat, it’s what you eat and how much that’s key.
Studies have looked specifically at what happens if you eat the bulk of your carbs in the evening versus spreading them out throughout the day, and the results are surprising.
For example, this study, that involved 78 male and female police officers, found that those who ate their carbs in the evening lost more weight, tummy fat and total body fat than those who ate their carbs throughout the day.
So does this mean it’s best to eat your carbs at night if you want to lose weight?
Not necessarily (as a study with only 78 people can’t be taken as conclusive evidence), but it does mean there’s no need to ban carbs once the sun goes down because doing so makes no difference to weight gain unless you eat to excess at night-time.
In fact, if you are keen to eat carbs more freely without fear of gaining weight, basic physiology suggests the best time to do so is when you’re in a carb-depleted state – when your body has used up the carbs available to it and has started/is about to break down muscle or fat for energy. If you eat carbs at these moments, your body will burn these foods for energy rather than storing them as fat.
You’ll find that you’re naturally carb depleted first thing in the morning (as you will have been fasting overnight) and soon after a strenuous workout (as you will have burned off the carbs in your body during your exercise session).
And that’s it. Remember:
1. Stick to wholegrain carbs rather than processed ones.
2. Eat some carbs with all your meals.
3. If you feel like having a carb splurge it’s best to do it after exercising or in the morning.
Want more of my handy fad-free healthy eating tips? Sign up below to join the fad free revolution and you’ll get my weekly newsletter packed with the inside scoop on how healthy those oh so popular health foods and trends you may be tempted to try really are.