- Carbs at Night: Fat Loss Killer or Imaginary?
- 1. So where did this ‘no carbs at night’ thing come from?
- When you can (and can’t) eat carbs for dinner
- Morning v evening carbs
- More from Trust Me I’m a Doctor:
- Carbs At Morning Or At Night?
- Can ‘Carb Backloading’ Really Help You Lose Weight?
- What is carb backloading?
- What does the research say?
- Who might benefit from carb backloading?
- Here’s how carb backloading (supposedly) works, what the research says, and what you need to know before you try it for yourself.
- But where’s the evidence that carb backloading works?
- The potential downsides to carb backloading
- Bottom line: Take carb backloading with a grain of salt.
- Carb Backloading: Should You Eat Carbs at Night to Lose Weight?
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- The 22 Worst Carbs in America
- “Coffee” Drinks
- Jelly and Preserves
- Fruity Smoothies
- Cheese Crackers
- Baked Goods
- Yogurt with Fruit on the Bottom
- White Bread
- Movie Theater Popcorn
- White Rice
- Yogurt-Covered Raisins
- Fruit Snacks and Gummies
- Tortilla Chips
- White Pasta
- Barbecue Sauce
- Refined Cereals
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- Good carbs vs. bad carbs
- Added sugar is just empty calories
- How to spot hidden sugar in your food
- Need a pre-bed snack? Go big on complex carbohydrates
- Is it Good to Eat Carbs Before Sleep?
- Health Issues
- What to eat before bed time?
- Eating Before Bed: Pros and Cons
- Pros of Eating Before Bed
- Cons of Eating Before Bed
- Tips for Nighttime Snacking
- How Long Before Bed Should you Stop Eating?
- Try Fasting
Carbs at Night: Fat Loss Killer or Imaginary?
1. So where did this ‘no carbs at night’ thing come from?
There are quite a few things that everyone in the fitness industry KNOWS. You have to eat 8 meals per day, consume 400g+ protein per day, do fasted cardio, use heavy weights to bulk up, and light weights wit high reps to tone up… oh wait, those are all BROSCIENCE! Don’t get me wrong, bodybuilding and fitness have been on the cutting edge of many dietary and training interventions that mainstream science is only now catching up.
Unfortunately, the vetting process for many of these protocols isn’t exactly stringent. Thus, many things become accepted as fact, when in reality they are BROSCIENCE. The debate about whether or not it’s ok to have carbs at night has been all but settled in the fitness industry. You simply can’t consume a shred of carbohydrates at night or you will store fat faster than vampire rises after the sun sets! That is, according to many fitness ‘experts’ out there, most of whose credentials are worth about as much as a thin sheet of slightly used one ply toilet paper.
So Anthony Collova, founder of IIFYM.com asked me to look into this fitness factoid to determine if eating carbs at night was actually detrimental to your body composition or if it was all bro-science.
In order to properly asses this fitness ‘fact’ we need to understand why limiting carbs at night is recommended in the first place. Most ‘experts’ who recommend limiting carbs at night do so because their assertion is since you will be going to sleep soon, your metabolism will slow down and those carbohydrates will have a greater chance at being stored as fat compared to if they were consumed earlier in the day where they would have a greater probability of being burned. Seems reasonable, but broscience always ‘sounds’ reasonable.
They also often assert that insulin sensitivity is reduced at night, shifting your carb storing directionality towards fat and away from muscle.
Let’s tackle the issue of metabolic rate slowing down at night time first. The logic behind this theory seems reasonable enough: you lie down in a bed and don’t really move, just sleep, so obviously you are burning less calories than if you are awake doing stuff, even if you are just sitting in a chair or couch resting, you have to burn more calories than just sleeping right? At first glance this seems to jive with work from Katoyose et al. which showed that energy expenditure decreased during the first half of sleep approximately 35% (1).
However, these researchers did show that during the latter half of sleep energy expenditure significantly increased associated with REM sleep.
So, there are rises and falls in sleeping metabolic rate (SMR), but what is the overall effect? Interestingly, at the very least it does not appear that the average overall energy expenditure during sleep is any different than resting metabolic rate (RMR) during the day (2, 3). Additionally, it appears that exercise increases sleeping metabolic rate significantly leading to greater fat oxidation during sleep (4).
This seems to be in line with data from Zhang et al. which demonstrated that obese individuals had sleeping metabolic rates lower than their resting metabolic rates, whereas lean individuals had sleeping metabolic rates significantly greater than their resting metabolic rate (3).
So unless you are obese, not only does your metabolism NOT slow down during sleep, it actually increases! The idea that you should avoid carbs at night because your metabolism slows down and you won’t ‘burn them off’ definitely doesn’t pass the litmus test.
2. So the whole ‘don’t eat carbs at night’ thing is definitely broscience right?
So far, the fear of carbs at night certainly smells like broscience, but before we render a verdict, let’s examine things further. There is also the issue of insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance to address. This is where things get interesting. Compared to morning meals, levels of blood glucose and blood insulin definitely remain elevated longer with evening meals (5, 6). Ah ha! There it is, proof, that you shouldn’t consume carbs at night right? Not so fast.
Though insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance appear to be worse at night compared to a morning meal, it is important to keep in mind that a morning meal is after an overnight fast and the fast may improve insulin sensitivity. Perhaps a more fair comparison is a mid day meal vs. a night time meal. In this case there is actually no difference in insulin sensitivity or glucose tolerance (5).
Therefore, it appears that insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance are not necessarily impaired and night, but rather are merely enhanced by an overnight fast.
3. Does any of this science mumbo jumbo actually make a difference?
While it is great to talk about mechanisms and nitpick every intricate detail about metabolism, at the end of the day, we have to examine whether or not any of this stuff makes any difference. Fortunately for us, a recent study published in the Journal of Obesity examined this very question (7). These researchers from Israel put people on a caloric-ally restricted diet for 6 months and split them into two groups, a control group and an experimental group.
Each group consumed the same amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat but they distributed their carbohydrate intake very differently. One group (control) ate carbs throughout the day, whereas the experimental group consumed the majority of their carbohydrate intake (approximately 80% of the total) at the night. What they found after 6 months may shock you. Not only did the experimental group consuming the majority of their carbs at night lose significantly more weight and body fat than the control group, they also were better satiety and less hunger!
4. Whoa hold up… less hunger? I don’t buy it.
You heard me right, they were less hungry. Now I’m sure all of you that have been following typical fitness protocols where you eat 6 times per day and have most of your carbs earlier in the day are thinking “man if I went more than 2-3 hours without carbs I’d be starving!” Well my friends you are buying into a vicious cycle I’m afraid. Let me explain: when you eat small amount of carbs frequently you are basically titrating in glucose to your system.
To dispose of this glucose your body releases insulin to drive blood glucose into cells. Over-secretion of insulin however may cause hunger to rise (typically about 2-3 hours post meal, the approximate time course of an insulin response), but no problem, you are eating every 2-3 hours anyway right? Just titrate in some more glucose. Unfortunately this makes you crave and consume glucose like clockwork and tricks many people into thinking that they NEED carbs every 2-3 hours or they would be hungry when in fact the opposite is true.
If you ate carbs less frequently with further time between carb dosing, you would be less hungry because your own body would ramp up systems that deal with endogenous glucose production, and keep your blood glucose steady. When you consume carbs every 2-3 hours however this system of glucose production (gluconeogenesis) becomes chronically down regulated and you must rely on exogenous carb intake to maintain your blood glucose levels.
Now if you transition from eating carbs every 2-3 hours to further apart for the first few days you may be hungry until your body has adjusted to using Gluconeogenesis to maintain blood glucose rather than just eating carbs every 2-3 hours, but once you do adjust, you will find that you are far less hungry. Bringing things full circle, this is exactly what the researchers found! These subjects were hungrier in the first week of the diet compared to 90 and 180 days into the diet where they were much more satiated.
So what’s the explanation for the night time carb group losing more body fat and being more satiated than the control group (maybe we should call them the ‘bro’ group)? The researchers postulated that more favorable shifts in hormones may be the difference. The baseline insulin values in the experimental group eating the majority of carbs at night were significantly lower than those eating carbs during the day (7).
So much for carbs at night decreasing insulin sensitivity huh? Additionally, the experimental group had much higher levels of adiponectin, a hormone associated with increased insulin sensitivity and fat burning. They also had a trend for slightly higher leptin levels. Furthermore, the night time carb munchers had lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (good) Cholesterol.
Overall the people eating the majority of their carbs at night lost more body fat and had better markers of health by the end of the study than those who ate more of their carbs during the day time.
5. So what’s the verdict?
I am not ready to say that we should all be eating the majority of our carbs at night. I would like to see this study repeated but with a bolus amount of carbs eaten at one meal in the morning to properly compare it to the single high carb meal at night, whereas the previous study compared a bolus night time carb meal vs. several feedings of carbs throughout the day.
It may very well be that the beneficial effects of the diet in this study was more associated with limiting carb dosing (and insulin secretion) to a single bolus rather than spreading them throughout the day.
However, I think what can be said with relative certainly is the notion that consuming carbohydrates at night will lead to more fat gain, or impair fat loss compared to consuming them at other times of the day. So write it down “Don’t eat carbs at night bro” has officially been BUSTED as BROSCIENCE!
6. Literature Cited
– Katayose Y, Tasaki M, Ogata H, Nakata Y, Tokuyama K, Satoh M. Metabolic rate and fuel utilization during sleep assessed by whole-body indirect calorimetry. Metabolism. 2009 Jul;58(7):920-6.
– Seale JL, Conway JM. Relationship between overnight energy expenditure and BMR measured in a room-sized calorimeter. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Feb;53(2):107-11.
– Zhang K, Sun M, Werner P, Kovera AJ, Albu J, Pi-Sunyer FX, Boozer CN. Sleeping metabolic rate in relation to body mass index and body composition. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 Mar;26(3):376-83.
– Mischler I, Vermorel M, Montaurier C, Mounier R, Pialoux V, Pequignot JM, Cottet-Emard JM, Coudert J, Fellmann N. Prolonged daytime exercise repeated over 4 days increases sleeping heart rate and metabolic rate. Can J Appl Physiol. 2003 Aug;28(4):616-29.
– Biston P, Van Cauter E, Ofek G, Linkowski P, Polonsky KS, Degaute JP. Diurnal variations in cardiovascular function and glucose regulation in normotensive humans. Hypertension. 1996 Nov;28(5):863-71.
– Van Cauter E, Shapiro ET, Tillil H, Polonsky KS. Circadian modulation of glucose and insulin responses to meals: Relationship to cortisol rhythm. Am J Physiol. 1992 Apr;262(4 Pt 1):E467-75.- Sofer S, Eliraz A, Kaplan S, Voet H, Fink G, Kima T, Madar Z. Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Oct;19(10):2006-14.
When you can (and can’t) eat carbs for dinner
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Pasta v toast – which can you have?
It’s January, which means you may have stood on the scales and decided to go on a diet. But what sort?
For many years, low-carb diets have been in fashion – based on the belief that eating lots of carbohydrates, particularly in the form of sugary treats such as white bread, rice or pasta, is bad for your waist and for your blood-sugar control.
The reasoning is that if you eat lots of carbohydrates and sugars, particularly the sort without fibre that get quickly absorbed, they will rapidly push up your blood glucose (sugar) levels.
Unless you burn this glucose off by doing exercise, your pancreas will pump out lots of the hormone insulin to bring these levels back down to normal.
It does this by storing the excess sugar from the carbs as fat. Too much stored fat, particularly visceral fat (inside the abdomen) can lead to serious health problems such as type-2 diabetes.
As well as concern about the amount of carbs we eat, people also worry about when they get eaten.
It’s widely believed, for example, that eating carbs in the evening is worse for you than having them for breakfast.
That’s because first thing in the morning your body is raring to go and should soon burn up the glucose released from the carbs. When you eat late at night your body is preparing to sleep, so the body should take longer to clear it.
That’s the theory. But is it really true?
Morning v evening carbs
On Trust Me I’m a Doctor, with the help of Dr Adam Collins, from the University of Surrey, we set up a small study.
We recruited healthy volunteers to see how well their bodies coped with eating most of their carbs in the morning, or in the evening.
We also wanted to see if the volunteers’ bodies would adapt over time.
All of our volunteers were asked to eat a fixed amount of carbs every day; things such as vegetables, bread and pasta.
For the first five days they were asked to eat most of their carb allowance for breakfast, leaving only a small amount for dinner time.
Then they had five days of normal eating before switching to low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners for a final five days.
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Dr Collins’s team was monitoring their blood-glucose levels throughout. So what did he think he would find?
“It’s always made sense to me that we process carbs better if we have a whole day of activity ahead,” he said.
“So, I expect having most of their carbs at breakfast will be easier for their bodies to cope with.
“But we don’t really know what happens if you regularly follow an evening-carbs diet.
“There’s never been a study like this before, and as a scientist I’m excited to see what happens”
So what did we find?
Well, there was a clear winner. And it wasn’t the one I was expecting.
Image copyright Getty Images
When the researchers tested the volunteers on the day after a run of high-carb breakfasts and low-carb dinners, they found their average blood glucose response was 15.9 units.
This was roughly as predicted.
But when they did the same tests after five days of low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners?
Remarkably, their average glucose response went down to 10.4 units, which was considerably lower than we were expecting.
So what happened? Well, it could be that what matters is not so much when you eat your carbs but the length of the carbs-free “fasting” period that precedes your meal.
If you’ve had a big gap since your last carb-rich meal, your body will be more ready to deal with it.
That happens naturally in the mornings because you’ve had the whole of the night, when you were asleep, in which to “fast”.
But our small study suggests that if you go low-carb for most of the day, that seems to have a similar effect.
In other words, after a few days of low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners your body becomes trained for this – it becomes better at responding to a heavy carb load in the evening.
Dr Collins is now launching a much larger study, which will hopefully provide more definitive answers.
In the meantime, his advice is not to worry too much about what time of day you eat carbs, as long as you’re consistent and don’t overload with them at every meal.
It’s more about achieving peaks and troughs, If you’ve had a lot of carbs in the evening, try to minimise them in the morning.
On the other hand, if you’ve had a pile of toast for breakfast, go easy on the pasta that night.
The new series of Trust Me I’m a Doctor continues on BBC Two at 20:30 on Wednesday 17 January and will be available on iPlayer afterwards.
Carbs At Morning Or At Night?
There are many myths surrounding carbohydrates, not the least of which being the timing of their intake. Some say consume carbs in the morning, some say after a workout, some say not at all. The best recommendation? Consume them later in the day, to maximize body composition and health benefits.
While many bodybuilding gurus have preached, and continue to preach, carbs in the morning, this is not the best option. Consuming carbs later in the day can benefit body composition, by teaching the body to use fat as a primary fuel source, and can also improve sleep, which is very important for fat loss, recovery from training, and overall health.
Nutrition experts of the last few years have been pushing for new diets that call for moving carb intake to the end of the day. John Keifer’s “Carb Back-Loading” protocol, and “Carb Nite” diet, make a case for eating most of the carbs at the end of the day. Another very popular, and educated fitness professional, Ben Pakulski, advocates no carbs until later in the day, and is a big fan of consuming high doses of protein and healthy fats for breakfast, such as meat and nuts.
In addition to the teachings of these experts, several studies have come out, validating these claims. One study in 1997 (1) showed that by eating 70% of daily carbohydrate totals at night, while on a moderate diet, participants lost more fat, while losing less overall bodyweight. This was due to the morning carb eaters losing 30% of their weight from muscle, versus the evening carb group, who lost only 7% muscle.
In 2011, another study was completed, this time looking at Israeli police officers varying their carbohydrate intake times (2). Over a period of six months, the officers were observed in two groups. One group had their carbs in the morning, one had their carbs at night. The results were the same. The evening carb group showed improved body composition, and improvements in overall health markers.
In 2013, in a study by the same authors as the Israeli police force study (3), the authors suggest that a low-calorie diet, with carbs placed around dinner, could positively affect hormones. They said this hormonal regulation could help prevent hunger and cravings throughout the day, helping aid dietary adherence.
Lastly, a 2014 study (4) showed that eating mostly carbs at dinner, with mostly protein at lunch, resulted in a higher dietary-induced level of fat burning, known as thermogenesis, compared with a control diet. In the opposite group, with carbs at lunch, and protein at dinner, glucose levels were disrupted, which is not a desired effect for overall health.
So, to summarize. The best way to schedule your day, is to consume high protein foods in the morning, through early afternoon, along with high doses of good fats. Natural animal fats, such as those found in meats and eggs, are great for these meals. In the evening, consume whatever amounts of carbs is allotted to you on your current nutrition plan. This will increase leptin output, a hormone responsible for fat burning, which will work to burn fat overnight, and the next day. Another benefit to eating carbohydrates at night is the serotonin release, which can improve sleep quality.
The one exception would be for morning trainees. If you strength train in the morning, it’s okay to consume some carbs after your workout for recovery purposes, say, 20-30% of your daily total. Otherwise, save them until the evening.
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1) Keim et al. Weight loss is greater with consumption of large morning meals and fat-free mass is preserved with large evening meals in women on a controlled weight reduction regimen., J Nutr. 1997 January; 127 (1) :75-82.
2) Sofer et al. Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner., Obesity (Silver Spring) 2011 Apr 7
3) Sofer et al. Changes in daily leptin, ghrelin and adiponectin profiles following a diet with carbohydrates eaten at dinner in obese subjects., Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 Aug;23(8):744-50
4) Alves et Al., Eating carbohydrate mostly at lunch and protein mostly at dinner within a covert hypocaloric diet influences morning glucose homeostasis in overweight/obese men. Eur J Nutr. 2014 Feb;53(1):49-60
Can ‘Carb Backloading’ Really Help You Lose Weight?
If you’ve contemplated cutting carbs to lose weight, you’ve likely come across popular diets like Atkins, keto, and carb cycling.
All of these diets have one thing in common: They force you to drastically slash the number of carbs you eat in order to achieve weight loss success.
These diets can be successful for a short period of time. But they’re often difficult, if not impossible, to maintain for many people.
Now a new diet approach called carb backloading suggests it’s not the number of carbs you eat but when you eat them that really matters.
Carb backloading is a carb-restrictive approach that encourages you to eat all of your carbs later in the day. This way, proponents say, you can capitalize on your body’s natural insulin sensitivity cycle, store less fat, and build stronger muscles.
But is it a good idea for you to try? There are a few factors to consider.
What is carb backloading?
The idea behind carb backloading is simple: Eat very few carbs at breakfast and lunch. Eat more carbs at dinner after a workout.
This diet theoretically capitalizes on your insulin production and insulin sensitivity cycles, says Alfred Schofield, co-founder of VitalFit Nutrition.
“At different times of the day, our bodies process carbohydrates differently. When our bodies are at rest or in a calm state, the insulin brings more of the carbohydrates to the fat cells, whereas when we are in a state of high activity or stimulation, more of the carbohydrates are delivered to our muscles,” Schofield said. “Over time, the storage of excess carbohydrates in fat cells is what can lead to weight gain.”
Reversing your body’s carb-storing tendencies can also help you burn more fat by stripping your body of its preferred energy source — carbs — and forcing it to turn to stored fat for fuel.
Each night while you sleep, your body begins burning stored fat. If you don’t load up on carbs at your first meal, this fat burning continues. This fat-burning state is a primary cornerstone of the popular keto diet.
With carb backloading, however, you eat too many carbs to maintain ketosis, or the fat-burning state.
“Users avoid carbohydrates through the day and wait to consume carbohydrates after a workout or much later in the day,” Schofield said. “This way, our bodies burn the stored carbohydrates in fat cells throughout the day. Then, when consuming carbs later in the day, these carbohydrates are brought as fuel to the muscles after a workout, thus minimizing the storage of carbs in fat cells.”
To properly practice carb backloading, you should aim to limit your carb intake during the day to less than 30 grams, said Andrew Woodward, MS, RD, CSO, the oncology nutritionist for Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. “That’s about two small slices of bread or one piece of fruit, for example,” he said.
Follow that with a healthy dinner with carbohydrates. You may also want a carb-rich snack before bed.
What does the research say?
There isn’t much research yet on the long-term effectiveness of carb backloading.
Small studies suggest eating carbs with protein at night may help curb appetite and promote weight loss. However, these studies are very small, and Woodward said they don’t significantly support the carb backloading concept.
“This is a theory based on two relatively weak studies,” Woodward said. “And it’s not consistent with a vegetarian diet or a healthy Mediterranean style of eating. Consequently, I don’t see that it would be helpful for most people.”
Likewise, Woodward said, carb backloading might be dangerous for some people, including people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, people who are pregnant, people with a history of eating disorders, underweight people, and other higher-risk individuals.
“It would be confusing and overly restrictive to people that want to establish or maintain healthy eating habits,” he said.
Robert Herbst, a personal trainer, weight loss and wellness coach, and a powerlifter, said that while he knows the research to support carb backloading is nonexistent, the diet has been helpful for him.
“When I was climbing mountains in Nepal in the late 1980s, every night I would have a big bowl of noodles for dinner. As a practical matter, noodles were convenient because the Sherpas had a lot of noodles and they were very light to carry,” he said. “I appreciated them because I viewed eating noodles like the carbo loading that marathoners did, and they would give me energy for the next day’s climb.”
When he returned stateside, Herbst resumed powerlifting and kept his carb backloading practice. “This helped my muscles replace the glucose that I’d been using during the workout,” he said. “On rest days, I would still have carbs with dinner to load my muscles for the next day. Unlike what strict backloaders do, I would also have some carbs in the morning as I needed energy for my day job as an attorney.”
Herbst said it wasn’t called carb backloading then — it’s just what he did to help fuel his workouts, build muscle, and keep fat at bay — but his approach is based on these same basic principles promoted today.
“Proponents of backloading have attempted to describe it in terms of nutrient timing and insulin sensitivity and have come up with strict programs to justify what they are doing,” Herbst said. “I think they are overthinking things. They also run the risk of making a program that is too uncomfortable to follow, with people not getting enough carbs during the day.”
Who might benefit from carb backloading?
Because the research is so limited, there’s no clear evidence about the long-term effects of carb backloading on weight loss and overall health.
“Overall, users of this diet believe that it will help shed fat and help promote muscle growth,” Schofield said. This is, in part, what makes carb backloading so popular among body builders and people focused on burning fat and adding muscle while keeping weight gain low.
“Other proposed benefits of this diet are that it will reduce cravings, as you can indulge at night, and aid in sleep due to the increased production of tryptophan,” Schofield said. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps regulate sleep.
But don’t be in a hurry to down a pint of mint chocolate chip after a run or load up on a chocolate-covered nougat bar after a heavy legs session, Schofield said. The quality and quantity of the carbs you eat still matters.
“The best carbs for this diet are complex carbs that take the most time to break down, thus helping fuel your muscles for the longest period of time,” he said. “While this diet’s merits include flexibility and the ability to eat freely at night, complex carbohydrates from natural sources will remain the best options for maximum results.”
“In a world of paleo and keto diets, carb backloading should not be seen as an excuse to eat junk,” Herbst adds.
For years, conventional diet wisdom has proclaimed that simple carbohydrates, like white rice and pasta, are bad. (And they’re said to be especially nefarious at night.) But one on-the-rise trend bucks this belief in favor of the exact opposite approach—carb backloading.
Here’s how it works: During the day, your carb intake is meant to be as minimal as possible, resembling the keto or Atkins diet. But after an evening workout, you’re actually encouraged to load up on the starchy stuff—spaghetti, pizza, whatever carb-tastic food your heart desires. It’s all part of a plan that promises fat loss and lean-muscle gain.
“Proponents of this kind of diet find time your carbohydrate intake with your optimal insulin sensitivity,” explains integrative and functional dietitian and nutritionist Ryan Whitcomb, MS, RD, CLT, owner of GUT RXN Nutrition.
But the thing is, it’s just a theory—for now.
Here’s how carb backloading (supposedly) works, what the research says, and what you need to know before you try it for yourself.
Photo: Stocksy/Guille Faingold
First, a little lesson in what happens when you digest carbs. When carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in your small intestine, this glucose needs to be brought from the bloodstream into your cells, explains Whitcomb.
This is where insulin comes in—it’s a hormone released by the pancreas, and its job is to shuttle glucose to your muscles and tissues. When insulin sensitivity is high, it means that your body is releasing the right amount of insulin to transport glucose where it needs to go. Some research suggests that insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning than it is at night.
According to proponents of carb backloading, this is a double-edged sword. While more glucose absorption in the muscles is a good thing, they believe more glucose absorption in the tissues is a bad thing—because you’re essentially “fueling” fat tissue.
The idea is that you can hack these natural fluctuations in insulin sensitivity by avoiding carbohydrates as much as possible until nighttime. As a result, your body will use its fat stores for fuel during the day, à la keto.
The TL;DR version of all this? Fast from carbs in the day, work out and feast on carbs at night.
An important part of this equation is also an evening strength training session. By carbo-loading right after an evening workout, carb backloading proponents claim glucose will go to your muscles first (because they’ll need it the most), so you don’t lose muscle mass.
The carb backloading plan also controversially suggests that simple carbs are better than complex carbs. Complex carbs, like whole grains, are digested more slowly—and most nutrition pros consider this a good thing, as it helps you avoid major blood-sugar spikes and drops. But carb backloading proponents say that the digestion process interferes with your body’s ability to build and repair muscle while you sleep. (Of course, if you’re consistently going above your daily calorie needs during evening pasta binges, that’s going to outweigh any potential fat loss benefits of carb backloading.)
The TL;DR version of all this? Fast from carbs in the day, work out and feast on carbs at night.
But where’s the evidence that carb backloading works?
While carb backloading sounds good in theory, there’s little research that backs up its effectiveness. That said, there are a few commonly cited studies that may suggest benefits in some people: In one six-week study of a group of 10 women, those who ate more of their calories at their evening meal preserved more lean muscle mass and lost more fat than those who had larger morning meals. (The latter group lost more overall weight, but more of it was lean muscle mass.)
Another study of 78 police officers found that after six months, those who ate most of their carbs at night lost more weight than those on a different weight loss plan. However, their calorie and carb intake was self-reported, which can lead to major inaccuracies as far as study results are concerned.
But overall, “the problem with these studies is that they’re typically either of short duration or of a small sample size,” says Whitcomb. “This means the results cannot be extrapolated and applied to the larger population.” The scientific consensus: There’s just not enough convincing evidence to say that carb backloading is totally legit (yet).
Photo: Stocksy/Kate Daigneault
The potential downsides to carb backloading
Whitcomb’s chief concern is that by avoiding carbs all day, you’re missing out on most sources of fiber, like fruit and whole grains. “This is a terrible idea, because general guidelines suggest that most women need 25 grams per day, minimum,” he says. For one, fiber promotes healthy digestion and elimination. “ the primary role of fiber is to feed the microbiome, so when you avoid that all day long, you starve the bugs in your gut,” Whitcomb explains. And, as you’ve probably heard, healthy and diverse gut bacteria are a cornerstone of good health.
Plus, since the carb backloading protocol favors simple carbs, you’re not getting much fiber there, either. And even if you were, trying to eat those 25 grams of fiber all at once would feel pretty uncomfortable for your digestive system, says Whitcomb.
From a practical point of view, there are a couple of other drawbacks. Maybe working out at night doesn’t suit your schedule. Evening workouts can interrupt your sleep, which ends up working against any fat loss or muscle gains. And as anyone who’s tried a low-carb diet can attest, minimizing carbs all day can feel pretty miserable. (Hey, keto flu.)
Photo: Stocksy/Cameron Whitman
Bottom line: Take carb backloading with a grain of salt.
Keeping in mind the potential pitfalls, you can still try carb backloading if it sounds like a good fit for you. “There’s not a lot of evidence to show that carb backloading works—but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work,” says Whitcomb. “Every person is different, and there’s no one diet that’s going to work best for everyone.”
For most people, a healthy balance between carbs, protein, and fat throughout the day is the best approach, he says. But the limited research on carb backloading might also suggest that eating carbs at night isn’t necessarily as bad as we all once thought. And that’s definitely good news.
Another way to get keto diet benefits without swearing off bread: carb cycling. Or you could just embrace carbs and use them to reduce sugar cravings, like Kayla Itsines does.
Carb Backloading: Should You Eat Carbs at Night to Lose Weight?
Carbs have been the topic of much conversation lately, especially as they pertain to weight loss. From the trendy keto diet, which forgoes carbs almost completely, to the concept of carb cycling, which allows people on low-carb diets to adjust their intake based on when their tougher training days are, there are lots of ways people are experimenting with their carbohydrate consumption.
One approach growing in popularity: carb backloading, the idea that eating all of your carbs later in the day can actually help you lose weight. To many who have followed the conventional diet wisdom of spreading carb (and calorie) intake out evenly throughout the day, this approach may sound totally off. So does it work, and should you consider trying it if you *love* eating carbs at night? Here’s what nutrition pros have to say. (BTW, here’s why healthy carbs definitely belong in your diet.)
The most basic principle of carb backloading is simply eating most of your carbs later in the day. But to understand the rationale behind this approach, we have to talk about insulin and insulin sensitivity. “Insulin is like a key to your cells that helps transport and store energy that can be used by the body for fuel,” says Emmie Satrazemis, a registered dietitian and nutrition director at Trifecta. Insulin increases, along with blood sugar, after you eat carbs. “‘Insulin sensitivity’ simply refers to how efficient this system is at any given time. Your body’s insulin sensitivity is highest when you are craving carbs or energy the most, so after a period of fasting or after intense exercise.”
So what does that have to do with carb backloading? “The theory of carb backloading is based on the fact that insulin sensitivity is higher earlier in the day, which promotes carbohydrate absorption into your muscles and fat tissue,” Satrazemis says. Storing carbs in your muscle tissue is a good thing, since your body can use them as energy throughout the day and even during your workouts. Storing carbs in fat tissue isn’t as desirable, she says, but that’s part of the process.
“Carb backloading requires you to eat all of your carbs later in the day to promote using fat for fuel during the day, and suggests you also work out in the evening to promote better carb absorption into your muscles.” By doing this, you can, in theory, lose fat faster, since you’re mainly using fat as fuel during the day. (This is kind of similar to the idea behind the keto diet.)
But does carb backloading work?
Advocates of carb backloading point to research showing that eating carbs at night can help reduce appetite and ultimately help people lose weight. The only problem? “It is easy to prove just about anything looking at individual studies with small sample sizes,” Satrazemis explains. In other words, just because something worked in a couple of small studies doesn’t mean you should try it in IRL or that it’s the only approach that works. “Currently, there is not enough evidence to show that when you eat carbohydrates affects your weight-loss capabilities,” she says. “Without randomized controlled studies, much of this is just applied theory.”
And in theory, carb backloading can be a good weight-loss strategy-in certain cases. “Carb backloading works best in two scenarios,” says Mike Israetel, Ph.D., head science consultant at Renaissance Periodization.
“The first is for folks who exercise later in the evening. For them, eating carbs before and after their workouts helps optimize their muscle gains and recovery outcomes.” That just happens to be at night. “The second scenario is for individuals who struggle with evening hunger during dieting, but really don’t have as much of an appetite earlier in the morning. For them, eating more of their carbs when they are actually hungrier in the evenings can let them stick to their diet plan calories without driving them crazy with hunger or making them stuff food down in the mornings when they don’t feel like eating.”
As far as evidence that working out and eating your carbs later in the day is best for fat loss? “The evidence, taken on the net balance, is actually pretty equivocal as far as timing is concerned,” Israetel says. “Especially for health, but for performance too.” Essentially, carb backloading probably works, but not because it’s better than other ways of timing your carb intake. More likely it’s because it can help some people stick to their allotted amount of carbs (and other macros) for the day, or allows them to time their carbs around their evening workout, which makes most sense for nighttime exercisers.
Should you try carb backloading?
Maybe. “If you train later in the day and/or you struggle with hunger at night, it might be the right choice for you,” Israetel says. “If not, then another timing option may be better.”
There are some other limited cases when delaying carb intake until later in the day could be a good idea, although true carb backloading probably isn’t necessary to achieve the desired results. “If someone came to me and told me that they get horrible GI distress when they consume anything before their morning run, I might suggest that they consume a moderate carb meal the night before, and wait until after their run to consume carbs again,” says Edwina Clark, a registered dietitian and head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly.
“Similarly, if a type 2 diabetic or pre-diabetic client came to me with a long history of high glucose levels after consuming any carbohydrate in the morning, I might suggest that they wait until their midmorning snack to add in carb-rich foods.” These are definitely isolated instances, though. “For most, I recommend spacing carbohydrate intake throughout the day, with particular emphasis on carbs before and after high-intensity exercise,” Clark adds.
If you do decide to go for the carb backloading approach, know that quality and quantity still matters. “Whole-grain, high-fiber carbohydrate choices like whole-grain bread and pasta, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice, oats, and beans assist with satiety, digestive health, cholesterol control, and more,” Clark says. If weight loss is your goal, you’ll definitely want to focus on these, along with keeping an eye on quantity.
14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Plan Review: Is Shaun Hadsall’s Program Legit?
Shaun Hadsall’s 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Plan Review
You’re about to read the most honest, no bullsh*t 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Plan review on the internet.
This is a fat-loss program created by Shaun Hadsall.
Shaun says that the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Program will help your body to use fat as energy so you can burn that stubborn belly fat that you despise.
He also says that the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss protocol will help you burn fat and lose weight without you following a low-carb diet.
Not only that, but Shaun claims this product will teach your body to “outsmart your metabolism” and force your body to burn fat as energy while STILL enjoying your favorite foods.
Last but not least, Shaun Hadsall says that the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss program will teach you how to “cut your exercise time in HALF using a brand new, scientifically proven, cutting-edge exercise protocol that is specifically designed to target lower belly fat and force the release of stubborn fat into the bloodstream so you can burn it off – in as little as 12 minutes…”
Wanna know if Shaun’s program is legit, or full of sh*t?
Read on to find out.
Health VI And Shaun Hadsall Aren’t Affiliated
This is just a nice and neat paragraph explaining to you that I’m not affiliated with Shaun Hadsall or the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Plan.
I’m just a health and fitness writer for the big boss of this website.
My job is to review weight loss products so that I can recommend excellent weight loss products to you, whilst steering you away from the crappy, useless, fluff-filled weight loss products that are out there.
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14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Plan Review In A Nutshell
If your partner has been screaming at you to do the dishes for the past two hours, but you’re just aching to get the yes-or-no verdict on the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss plan, I’ve got you covered fam:
The 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss is an okay program.
An easy 6/10; it’s got some useful information on glycogen levels, insulin, carb cycling, general weight loss information, etc. But it’s nothing special. I wouldn’t recommend this product to you because it’s just a wee bit too average.
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14 Day Rapid Fat Loss With 14 Upsells
Sorry, I lied. There was only 4 upsells, but that headline sounded catchy in my head.
After purchasing the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss plan, I was met with a number of the generic diet and exercise product upsells.
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As I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews, sometimes the Upsells are actually beneficial; I find that support groups and private coaching are much more useful upsells – there have been studies showing that social groups can increase the chances of you losing weight permanently.
The 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Plan Pushes Spot Reduction Fallacies
The main thing I noticed about Shaun Hadsall’s product is how much he pushes the fallacy of spot-reducing fat. Throughout the product and even on the sales page, Shaun Hadsall has stated multiple times that the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Plan will help “target and burn your belly fat.”
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I’m just telling you guys and gals right now; you can’t spot reduce fat. Even the big boys and gals over at Yale have said that you can’t spot reduce fat.
There was also a study done that showed how fat loss relates to tennis players.
If spot reduction was possible, you’d think that a tennis player would have one arm with less fat than the other.
The study found that there was “…no significant difference in the thickness of subcutaneous fat over the muscles of the arm receiving more exercise as compared to the arm receiving less exercise.”
I think claims like “a diet that targets your belly fat”, or “this workout will burn your arm flab” are only stated because it appeals to the consumer.
Ultimately, fat is lost over the entire body, and for the majority of people in the world, the very last place that the body burns fat is from the belly.
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The 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Carb Cycling Protocol
There were some good points about Shaun Hadsall’s weight loss program. His promise of “eating whatever carbs you want and still burn fat” comes at a price.
He’s included some valuable information on strategically utilizing carbs to refill glycogen levels and spiking insulin levels at certain times to promote muscle growth.
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Basically, he says that you deplete glycogen levels with a combination of low carb days and resistance training workouts.
Then, the carbs that you DO eat will be used by your body to refill muscle glycogen instead of being stored as fat.
It’s good information to know about, especially if you’re wanting to enjoy your carbohydrates without letting them spill over to fat.
Then again, it’s nothing that a free search on google can educate you about. Here’s an excellent article on carb cycling if you wanna check it out.
Random Bits Of Information On The 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Program
This is kind of the leftover pieces of information that I thought you’d find interesting.
First off, there’s no real emphasis on a calorie deficit.
It’s the number one requirement if you wanna lose weight and burn fat, and every time I see a lack of attention on this weight loss requirement, I die a little inside.
If there’s any concept that I want you weight loss fanatics to know about, it’s that you HAVE to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight.
In essence, it means that the energy being supplied to your body via food isn’t enough to sustain weight, so your body resorts to using its own sources instead.
Secondly, the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss program included a number of other resources, such as extra fat burning tricks, as well as dinner and dessert recipes.
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They’re okay, nothing too special, but they do increase the overall value of the product.
14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Final Rating: B-
It’s the same with his other products: It’s okay, it’s average, it might get the job done.
But it’s not excellent. It’s not amazing.
There are other products out on the market that provide more value, in a more presentable manner, with no fluff, more resources, etc.
If you’re interested in losing weight and keeping it off for good without giving up your favorite junk foods, or wasting hours upon hours in the gym…
Then check out my free fat loss guide.
It contains EVERYTHING I did to help me lose over 70 lbs and keep it off for over 6 years.
Let Me Know What You Think!
If you have any questions about the products, or you want to hear a bit of advice from someone that’s lost over 70 lbs, drop me a comment below! I’m here to help you guys, so make use of me.
The 22 Worst Carbs in America
Carbohydrates. They’re the most important source of energy for the body. Our bodies change carbohydrates into glucose, then use this type of energy for cells, tissues and organs, storing any extra sugar in the liver and muscles for when it’s needed. But here’s the thing: Not all carbs are created equal, especially when it comes to rapid weight loss. And the difference between good and bad carbs can transform your body.
Many, particularly the types of carbs that are added to our food in the form of sweeteners, are likely to get in the way of your noble mission to look and feel your best. Below are 22 of the worst carbohydrates to eat if that’s indeed your goal. Avoid, or at least limit, as many of the below as you can and watch your belly shrink. And for the scientifically-proven plan to flatten your stomach and keep you lean for life, click here for The 7-Day Belly Melt Diet!
Coffee is great news for your health and weight loss goals: It packs a virtually calorie-free boost to your metabolism, it’s rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and it reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, liver cancer, gallstones, cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson’s disease. But those benefits are offset when you dump fatty and caloric additives into this amazing stuff — or worse, order a coffee chain’s drink that has the same calorie and carb profile as a dessert. Some of those can easily reach 400 calories and 60 to 80 grams of carbs per serving. Avoid them, unless you want your coffee habit to increase your girth.
Eat This! Tip
Get a taste for delicious and evocative black coffee by experimenting with different blends and roasts and ease into it by splashing in a bit of whole milk.
According to Manuel Villacorta, RD, author of Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, to be nutritionally worthwhile, eating a bagel must be paired with something else: A two- to three-hour run. See, even before you’ve treated it with butter, cream cheese, or a similar delivery method for empty carbs, a bagel could pack 250 to 300 calories and a whopping 50 grams of carbs. That makes a morning bagel significantly more caloric and carborific than a serving of white-flour pasta.
Unlock the power of the carbs in oatmeal for breakfast — and be smart about the fixings. Get healthy ideas from these delicious overnight oat recipes!
Jelly and Preserves
These classic spreads look innocent enough, but they’re actually pieces of fruit smothered in sugar and juice and shoved inside a jar. Just one tablespoon of Smucker’s grape jelly has 13 grams of carbs, 12 grams of sugar and 50 calories — and let’s be honest, who uses just one?
Top peanut butter sandwiches with fresh pieces of fruit like banana and strawberries to get a similar taste with none of the added sugar.
It doesn’t matter what it is — eating too much of anything promises unwanted consequences. Yes, even smoothies! That’s because we tend to pack a lot of fruit into them, often at the expense of vegetables. Fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but they also have plenty of carbs, particularly when served in a 16 oz cup, which can contain 75 grams of carbs.
Go veggie-heavy with your smoothies. A good rule of thumb: Include two vegetables for every piece of fruit. You’ll be surprised how well a modest amount of fruit can sweeten a smoothie that’s brimming with spinach, kale, watercress, and others.
A simple delivery method for cheese, one serving of these crunchy rectangles has about 18 grams of carbohydrates. That may seem modest compared to the carbs hiding out in a 16 oz smoothie, but unlike a drink made chiefly of blended fruit, crackers bring nothing to the party nutritionally besides the waist-widening carbs. Top them with high-fat cheese and you’ll do your silhouette a huge disservice.
If you like your cheese to ride on something crunchy, pair it with crudité. Crisp, fibrous organic vegetables will fill you up so you don’t go nuts with the Roquefort. And when you want something sweet or salty, indulge guilt-free in a 50-calorie snack!
No, you’re not imagining it: Baked goods like muffins are getting larger. They’re also getting sweeter and cakier, effectively encroaching on cupcake territory. Some muffins contain upward of 60 g of carbs and more than 30 g of sugar. Think about that the next time someone emails your floor that there’s a basket of these carb grenades in the conference room.
Yogurt with Fruit on the Bottom
Yogurt is an excellent weight loss weapon. A plain Greek variety is one of the most enjoyable ways to get a burst of hunger-busting protein and a litany of vitamins and minerals. While yogurt itself does have carbs from lactose, you can double or even triple the amount by picking one with a thick layer of jammy fruit on the bottom.
Buy your yogurt plain or low-sugar yogurt and add some fresh, cut-up fruit. Crisp sliced apple would be a perfect choice to add fiber.
Many of us grew up eating white bread, so we understand that it may hold a special place in your heart. But it’s anything but healthy. Made with starchy enriched flour instead of healthy whole grains, white bread is packed with carbs and void of the belly-filling fiber that boosts satiety and keeps blood sugar stable. What’s worse, refined white-flour foods have been linked to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Plus, they lead to weight gain and make it more difficult to lose weight, too.
Opt for whole grain bread. Eating whole grains can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.
If you think these flimsy blankets of carbohydrates are better for you than bread, you’re not alone; it’s a common misconception. But there are 35 grams of carbs in a 10-inch white tortilla wrap. Take a closer look at the nutrition label, and you’ll find that many varieties are loaded with calories and chemicals like L-cysteine, a “dough conditioner” made from human hair and poultry feathers.
Restock your shelves with whole grain bread that’s free of high fructose corn syrup. Make it one of these best brand name breads for weight loss!
Movie Theater Popcorn
Somehow, going to the movies has become synonymous with filling your face full of packing foam that’s often coated in a high-sodium, carcinogenic substance. A vat of popcorn—or a “medium” in concession stand parlance—can contain about 1,200 empty calories. (The same serving packs around three days’ worth of saturated fat. Oof.)
Eat before you go. Healthy options at a movie theater are famously scarce.
White rice is a household staple, but it really shouldn’t be. Just like white bread, white rice has been stripped of its nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, making it nothing more than empty calories and a lot of carbs. Whole-grain rice is rich in filling, good-for-you nutrients.
Look for brown and wild rice and whole-grain pastas that are free of any sketchy ingredients to avoid a fat belly!
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Pretzels are basically nutrient-stripped carbs covered in blood-pressure-raising salt, so are you really all that shocked they made this list? They offer no health benefits and lack any ingredient that will help keep you full or satisfied.
Eat kale chips or snap pea crisps as healthier alternatives. They’re far better cheat meals.
You could delude yourself into thinking that this is a healthy snack. It was a grape once, right? Well, its days of hanging off a California vine have long gone. Now dried and covered it sugary yogurt, a quarter-cup packs 20 grams of carbs and 19 grams of sugar.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a small amount of high-quality dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao.
Fruit Snacks and Gummies
“They might have a ‘fat-free’ label on the front, but these snacks are anything but kid-friendly,” warns Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The New York Nutrition Group. “Void of any nutrition whatsoever, all they offer are empty calories that can lead to weight gain, cavity-causing sugar, and enough chemical preservatives to last a lifetime.” That sugar Moskovitz mentions? It’s usually high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to belly fat.
Eating an honest-to-goodness piece of organic fruit provides way more nutrition than any colorfully packaged derivative.
It’s estimated that after it was introduced to Europe from South America, the potato was responsible for 65% of the increase in Western Europe’s population and a 25% of the increase in the rate of urbanization. Why? Well, the spud is an awesome vegetable rich in fiber, protein, and vitamins. Over the past century, however, people have gotten a taste for the potato sans most of its inherent goodness. We’re talking fries. Take off the skin (where many of the nutrients and fiber live) and greatly increase the fat-soaking surface area by cutting it into long thin pieces, and boom, you’ve turned a positive into a negative. All carbs, all fat, and little in the way of anything else.
Switch to sweet potato fries, like the ones in these sweet potato recipes. The same-sized portion has a third of the calories, a third less carbohydrate content and is significantly higher in fiber.
Most of the evils of pizza lie in the empty-calorie, carbohydrate-rich crust. Typically made from refined white flour, pizza dough offers little nutrition and will spike your insulin levels, causing you to crave more. The less crust you indulge in, the better.
The basic pizza toppings of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil are an incredible combination. Minus the pizza dough, these constitute a Caprese salad, which has a lot of the same flavor without the carbs.
Chances are, you’ll find a bag of tortilla chips in every household. The classic party food often contains a laundry list of ingredients, and none of them contain many nutrients. “Generally speaking, for most crackers and chips, much of the nutritional value of the grain has been removed during processing — especially when these foods are white rather than whole-wheat, because the husk and outer layers of the grain have been removed,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition.
For a more nutrient-dense alternative that still offers crunch, try air-popped popcorn with your own added herbs and spices, or even crackers made with whole-wheat that have four to five grams of fiber per serving. Goodbye man boobs.
It seems as though pasta is always condemned to the “Not That!” list, right? The truth is, it can offer some nutrients, but you’ve got to choose the right kind. White pasta is made from white flour, which is a bad way to get carbs if you plan on getting and staying svelte.
Sub out pasta for substitutes like spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles to create a fat-burning pasta dish. Both veggies are rich in vitamins A and C, and also contain potassium and other healthy nutrients important for optimal body function. However, if you simply must have your white pasta fix, try this pro tip: put prepared pasta in the fridge overnight and eat cold. The temperature change boosts resistant starch content, which takes more time and energy to digest.
White flour, salt, sugar, butter, eggs, milk. There are too many low-nutrient-density ingredients (and not nearly enough of the eggs and milk) to make pancakes anything other than big ol’ carb-laden disks of empty calories. Adding chocolate chips, syrup, or more butter definitely won’t help.
Make this dish less empty by replacing white flour and sugar with a mixture of whole-wheat flour, oats, pecans, and cinnamon, and you’ll lose belly fat. Adding bananas or blueberries as a topping ups vitamin content. If you’re using syrup, opt for 100% pure maple syrup and not the Fugazi stuff derived from high fructose corn syrup.
Just two tablespoons of barbecue sauce have 100 calories, more than 10 grams of sugar and 22 grams of carbohydrates. That’s enough to turn a piece of grilled steak into a delivery method for empty calories.
Sub out BBQ sauce for a mix of low-sodium soy sauce and a little honey. You’ll still get the sweet and tangy taste you crave without going overboard on nutrient-free calories.
Most brewskis offer 10 to more than 20 grams of carbs in a 12-ounce glass. Too many of those too often, and all you’ll have to show for it is a paunch. Beer amounts to little more than liquid carbs.
If you’re going to drink beer, choose Guinness. Despite its heavy, hearty, and dark appearance, this stout has 20 fewer calories per 12 oz serving than a Bud. And it has even more advantages: A University of Wisconsin study found that moderate consumption of Guinness worked like aspirin to prevent blood clots that increase the risk of heart attacks. That’s because the antioxidants it contains are better than vitamins C and E at keeping bad LDL cholesterol from clogging arteries.
Refined cereals are another infamous source of nutritionally void carbs, topped with a ton of sugar that creates double trouble for your waistline. Raisin Bran (45 g), Frosted Mini-Wheats (48 g), and Oatmeal Crisp (46 g) all top the list of the most carb-laden cereals available.
Replace your morning Frosted Flakes with steel-cut oatmeal or choose one of these low-sugar, high-fiber cereal for weight loss!
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Refined Carbs and Sugar: The Diet Saboteurs
They’re the comfort foods we most often crave: pasta, fries, pizza, white bread, sugary desserts. But here’s how choosing healthier carbs can improve your health and waistline.
Refined or simple carbohydrates include sugars and refined grains that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. These include white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, sweet desserts, and many breakfast cereals. They digest quickly and their high glycemic index causes unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. They can also cause fluctuations in mood and energy and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline.
When you eat refined carbs, your bloodstream is flooded with sugar which triggers a surge of insulin to clear the sugar from your blood. All this insulin can leave you feeling hungry soon after a meal, often craving more sugary carbs. This can cause you to overeat, put on weight, and over time lead to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. Diets high in refined carbs and sugar have also been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, hyperactivity, mood disorders, and even suicide in teenagers.
For many of us, cutting back on sugary treats and overcoming our carb cravings can seem like a daunting task. As well as being present in obvious foods such as sugary snacks, desserts, and candies, sugar is also hidden in much of the processed food we eat—from soda, coffee and fruit drinks to bread, pasta sauce, and frozen dinners. But cutting back on these diet saboteurs doesn’t mean feeling unsatisfied or never enjoying comfort food again. The key is to choose the right carbs. Complex carbs such as vegetables, whole grains, and naturally sweet fruit digest slower, resulting in stable blood sugar and less fat accumulation.
By focusing on whole foods and complex, unrefined carbs, you can reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbs, keep your blood sugar stable, maintain a healthy weight, and still find ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. You’ll not only feel healthier and more energetic, you could also shed that stubborn belly fat so many of us struggle with.
A lot of belly fat surrounds the abdominal organs and liver and is closely linked to insulin resistance and an increased risk of diabetes. Calories obtained from fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda, energy and sports drinks, coffee drinks, and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, cereal, candy, and granola bars) are more likely to add weight around your abdomen. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes.
Good carbs vs. bad carbs
Carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. Health organizations such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. However, the majority of these should be from complex, unrefined carbs rather than refined carbs (including starches such as potatoes and corn).
Unlike simple carbs, complex carbohydrates are digested slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar. They’re usually high in nutrients and fiber, which can help prevent serious disease, aid with weight-loss, and improve your energy levels. In general, “good” carbohydrates have a lower glycemic load and can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.
Good carbs include:
Unrefined whole grains – whole wheat or multigrain bread, brown rice, barley, quinoa, bran cereal, oatmeal
Non-starchy vegetables – spinach, green beans, Brussels sprouts, celery, tomatoes
Legumes – kidney beans, baked beans, peas, lentils
Nuts – peanuts, cashews, walnuts
Fruit – apples, berries, citrus fruit, bananas, pears
What is the glycemic index and glycemic load?
The glycemic index (GI) measures how rapidly a food spikes your blood sugar, while the glycemic load measures the amount of digestible carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) the food contains. While both can be useful tools, having to refer to different tables can be unnecessarily complicated. Unless you’re on a specific diet, most people find it easiest to stick to the broad guidelines of what makes a carb “good” or “bad”.
Switching to good carbs
While there are many health benefits to switching from refined to complex carbs, you don’t have to consign yourself to never again eating French fries or a slice of white bread. After all, when you ban certain foods, it’s natural to crave those foods even more. Instead, make refined carbs and sugary foods an occasional indulgence rather than a regular part of your diet. As you reduce your intake of these unhealthy foods, you’ll likely find yourself craving them less and less.
|Choosing healthier carbs|
|White rice||Brown or wild rice, riced cauliflower|
|White potatoes (including fries and mashed potatoes)||Cauliflower mash, sweet potato|
|Regular pasta||Whole-wheat pasta, spaghetti squash|
|White bread||Whole-wheat or whole-grain bread|
|Sugary breakfast cereal||High-fiber, low-sugar cereal|
|Instant oatmeal||Steel-cut or rolled oats|
|Cornflakes||Low-sugar bran flakes|
|Corn or potato chips||Nuts, or raw veggies for dipping|
Added sugar is just empty calories
Your body gets all the sugar it needs from that naturally occurring in food—fructose in fruit or lactose in milk, for example. All the sugar added to processed food offers no nutritional value—but just means a lot of empty calories that can sabotage any healthy diet, contribute to weight gain, and increase your risk for serious health problems.
Again, it’s unrealistic to try to eliminate all sugar and empty calories from your diet. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar) for women and 150 calories per day (9 teaspoons or 36 grams) for men. If that still sounds like a lot, it’s worth remembering that a 12-ounce soda contains up to 10 teaspoons of added sugar—some shakes and sweetened coffee drinks even more. The average American currently consumes 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) of added sugar each day, often without realizing it. By becoming more aware of the sugar in your diet, you can cut down to the recommended levels and make a huge difference to the way you look, think, and feel.
How to cut down on sugar
Slowly reduce the sugar in your diet a little at a time to give your taste buds time to adjust and wean yourself off the craving.
Cook more at home. By preparing more of your own food, you can ensure that you and your family eat fresh, wholesome meals without added sugar.
Give recipes a makeover. Many dessert recipes taste just as good with less sugar.
Avoid sugary drinks—even “diet” versions. Artificial sweetener can still trigger sugar cravings that contribute to weight gain. Instead of soda, try adding a splash of fruit juice to sparkling water. Or blend skim milk with a banana or berries for a delicious, healthy smoothie.
Avoid processed or packaged foods. About 75% of packaged food in the U.S. contains added sugar—including canned soups, frozen dinners, and low-fat meals—that can quickly add up to unhealthy amounts.
Be careful when eating out. Most gravy, dressings, and sauces are packed with sugar, so ask for it to be served on the side.
Eat healthier snacks. Cut down on sweet snacks such as candy, chocolate, and cakes. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter.
Create your own frozen treats. Freeze pure fruit juice in an ice-cube tray with plastic spoons as popsicle handles. Or make frozen fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.
Check labels of all the packaged food you buy. Choose low-sugar products—but be aware that manufacturers often try to hide sugar on labels.
Being smart about sweets is only part of the battle of reducing sugar in your diet. Sugar is also hidden in many packaged foods, fast food meals, and grocery store staples such as bread, cereals, canned goods, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, low-fat meals, and ketchup. The first step is to spot hidden sugar on food labels, which can take some sleuthing:
- Manufacturers provide the total amount of sugar on their labels but do not have to differentiate between added sugar and sugar that is naturally in the food.
- Added sugars are listed in the ingredients but aren’t always easily recognizable as such. While sugar, honey, or molasses are easy enough to spot, added sugar could also be listed as corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, cane crystals, invert sugar, or any kind of fructose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, or syrup.
- While you’d expect sugary foods to have sugar listed near the top of their list of ingredients, manufacturers often use different types of added sugars which then appear scattered down the list. But all these little doses of different sweeteners can add up to a lot of extra sugar and empty calories!
Need a pre-bed snack? Go big on complex carbohydrates
Ready for bed, and your stomach starts growling?
The easiest thing to reach for is the cookies, yes? Really, they are right there in front of you. Eat one, or two — even if it feels a little sinful — and crawl under the covers. What could go wrong?
But not all hope is lost. While you’ve been told eating before going to bed is wrong, eating a small pre-bedtime snack can help you sleep more soundly without packing on pounds — if you reach for the right foods.
Especially if you tend to eat dinner a few hours before bedtime or you’re very active (or both), snacking before bed will help stabilize your blood sugar levels during the long, meal-less night, Stephanie Maxson, senior clinical dietician at the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, stated in a Time.com article.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Here’s what to stay away from before turning out the lights: chips, cookies, cereal, or any traditional dessert food, Joan Sabate`, a professor of public health and nutrition at Loma Linda University, said in the Time.com article. This is because fiber and other digestion-slowing nutrients are typically stripped away from these foods during their preparation and your body absorbs them quickly — and they tend to cause quick spikes in your blood sugar, which can make it tough for you to sleep.
Now, what’s good:
Complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, non-starchy vegetables (carrots, asparagus, pea pods, bean sprouts), popcorn and fruit. These foods break down slowly, and helps stave off the blood sugar spikes or crashes that could interfere with a person’s sleep or appetite, according to the article.
For athletes, adding protein (such as turkey or chicken) to a bedtime snack can help with muscle repair while providing an essential amino acid called tryptophan, which is beneficial to sleep.
“I don’t see that it would do any harm if it is a small snack,” Hank Williford, department head of kinesiology at Auburn Montgomery, said of athletes. “In some studies, several small meals during the day for athletes is better than large meals. (But) the sugary snacks probably wouldn’t interfere with your sleep. But for people trying to lose weight, it’s probably not the smartest idea.”
Ideally, a person wants to encourage stable blood sugar levels for optimal health, which will be tough to do if they’re going 10 or 12 or 14 hours without eating, which is one reason nutrition experts underscore the importance of eating breakfast, according to the Time.com article.
When choosing a pre-bed treat, choose something filling enough, but also healthy enough so it does not derail your diet, according to a “Healthy Eating” article in SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle website).
It suggests cottage cheese, which contains protein and will ward off hunger. It offers a steady supply of amino acids through the night, which aid in muscle building and recovery. Adding a tablespoon of natural peanut butter to this can increase digestion time and will help control hunger longer, according to the article.
“A lot of times we tend to eat at night,” said Rachel Laughlin, a registered dietitian in Montgomery. “That’s the time we get to relax and enjoy ourselves. I think the problem with snacking at night is that you’re choosing the wrong food.
“People are choosing their sweets and alcoholic beverages. They are having ‘snack’ foods. I feel like sometimes people want something salty or sweet. Maybe a small amount is OK. If control is an issue for you, then try a low fat yogurt, or a frozen yogurt.”
Laughlin also suggests a low-fat turkey or egg salad sandwich, or oatmeal.
“Something filling and comforting,” she said, “but not super sweet because that will raise your sugar level.”
A sleep-inducing snack is Greek yogurt with honey and a sliced banana, according to the SF Gate. It all contains tryptophan and bananas, which are rich in sleep-promoting potassium, are a good source of carbohydrates.
Other smart nighttime noshes include half a turkey or peanut butter sandwich, according to the SF Gate.
Need more ideas for healthy, sleep-promoting snacks? The Huffington Post offers these:
• Banana and nuts: half of a banana with a handful of your favorite nuts provides tryptophan and carbs.
• Crackers and peanut butter: a few whole wheat crackers and spread on some all-natural peanut butter for a mix of complex carbs and protein with tryptophan.
• A bowl of cereal: the milk contains tryptophan and the whole-grain cereal adds the complementary complex carbs. Just be sure to ditch the Captain Crunch — avoiding sugar helps prevent a sleep-disruptive blood sugar crash during the night.
• Cheese stick: munching on a low-fat cheese stick before bed supplies tryptophan. Plus, a lean protein can leave you calm and less frazzled while keeping your blood sugar on an even keel during the night.
Common non-starchy vegetables
Complex carbohydrates, like those found in non-starchy vegetables break down slowly, and helps stave off the blood sugar spikes or crashes that could interfere with a person’s sleep or appetite, according to the Time.com article. Here’s a few common non-starchy vegetables:
Source: American Diabetes Association
It has been some time that the question of whether carbohydrates have to be consumed right before sleep has come up.
Carbohydrates are essential to carry energy for day-to-day activities and natural processes in the body such as breathing, digestion, assimilation, etc.
Fitness and nutrition experts have time and again stated the importance of consuming the right sources of carbohydrates.
However, consuming them just before sleeping? Ultimately it is an individual choice, but it helps to know how your preferences affect your health goals.
Is it Good to Eat Carbs Before Sleep?
Carbohydrates can be equated to sugar; your body needs a consistent sugar supply so that it can burn it off and provide energy.
The glycemic index is a measure of how fast and by how much the sugar level in the human blood rises. You apparently do not want to
Good and Bad Carbs
eat bad carbs, having higher glycemic indices, which make you tired easily and make you want to eat more.
Why is avoiding carbs before bed suggested at the first place, especially for fitness freaks?
The basic idea is that taking carbs before sleep slows the metabolism down, giving the carbs consumed a greater probability of converting into fat.
Consuming them earlier in the day gives you a higher chance of burning them off for energy.
The logic is simple: You immediately lie down on the bed after eating say yummy processed foods rich in carbs, without any exercise.
You are not doing anything to burn those extra calories. Apparently, we are assuming you do not stay over active in the late nights.
So what’s the best time to consume the right carbs? Morning times, and before workouts.
Our human bodies are designed to be catabolic in the earlier parts of the day, meaning right in the mornings; the body needs good nutrition for energy release.
Taking carbohydrates before workouts is ideal because they help your body to regenerate the lost glycogen.
As the day progresses, the body gets slowly to the anabolic state, it needs more build up type foods that support the anabolic metabolism pathways, foods containing good fats, proteins. Taking carbohydrates later is not ideal to the natural metabolic rhythm of the body.
Whether your aim is getting ripped with lean muscle mass, or losing the extra fat stored in your body, it is ideal to avoid eating carbs before retiring to the bed. However, is there only one generic rule? Turns out that the situation depends from person to person.
Say, person A is a heavy weight lifter or an athlete, engaged in strenuous activities throughout the day, whereas person B does not workout so intensely.
Person B has an excess of carbohydrate stores in the body and consuming an excess, especially before bedtime is not needed.
Person A, on the other hand, requires the depleted glycogen to be replenished for optimal performance. It is analogous to a car; if your car is just sitting unused in the garage, there is no need to add fuel or gas.
Similarly, adding carbs will just not serve the purpose of weight control, it is as meaningless as adding fuel to an already filled tank. The overspill of carbs, in this case, leads to additional storage of fats.
The excess insulin levels hamper the process of muscle repair. It is suggested that in the later part of the day, a diet should comprise of lesser proportions of high glycemic index carbs.
See also: 7 Days, 7 Steps To Boost Up Metabolism To Automate Weight Loss
Eating carbohydrates has a direct bearing on the blood sugar level. Controlling the level of blood sugar for diabetic patients is a must.
Instead of stacking on carbs before bed, a well-balanced diet is instrumental in controlling health problems. Especially for people above the age of 30, growth hormones and testosterone levels start declining.
For diabetic patients, it is recommended that foods that have lower glycemic indices must be chosen. When you eat foods with high glycemic indices such as cakes, chocolates, processed foods, white bread, etc. the blood sugar level spikes up in a rapid manner.
Also, the body is not welcome the rise of insulin levels, the secretion of growth hormones is obstructed.
When insulin is increased alone, hypoglycaemia may be caused. Taking slow digesting protein rich foods such as casein protein is recommended at nights.
What to eat before bed time?
Should you not eat anything before bed?
Not at all.
Many people seem to complain of insomnia, eating carbohydrates, especially those get absorbed fast, definitely does not solve sleep related issues.
You need not starve yourself before dozing off to slumber, consuming the right foods is important for you to stay in good health.
After all the don’ts, here’s a list of foods that you actually can consume before sleeping, without running the risk of attracting chronic illnesses. (1)
Food #1: Feed Your body with a high-quality protein source, Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese contains casein protein, slow absorbing protein that takes hours to be assimilated in the stomach. Glucagon is released in the body.
A single serving of cottage cheese takes around 5-6 hours to digest completely. Muscle breakdown is prevented because casein plays a crucial role in protein synthesis when you are in sleep.
When you wake up in the morning, the catabolic mechanism of the body breaks down muscle. Consuming a good quality protein like cottage cheese ensures that the amino acid levels in the body are high. Adding one tbsp of peanut butter helps to control hunger for a longer duration of time.
Food #2: Avoid late night cravings with Green Vegetables: For weight conscious people, this is an excellent food just before retiring to bed. They practically have zero calories and are rich in fiber. It is always great to go to deep sleep feeling full and hunger free. Fiber serves the purpose, without adding any extra calories to your diet plan.
Food #3: Protein shakes with few carbs: Dessert before sleep! Don’t you just love the idea of hogging on desserts after a heavy dinner?
How about doing it in a healthy manner? These days, fitness and nutrition enthusiasts experiment a lot with their quick absorbing whey protein shakes.
Adding berries, for instance, takes care of your daily fiber requirement, you can also add almond butter to get some healthy fats, without compromising on the taste. A blend of whey protein and slow digesting proteins is an ideal combination before sleep.
Everything said, combining low GI carbs with protein before bedtime is a good idea. For instance, plain oatmeal along with a tbsp of peanut butter is a healthy snack.
Make sure you go for complex carbohydrates, though, adding simple carbohydrates like sugar will only worsen the problems.
You can consume low-fat milk, yoghurt, or fruit like Banana.
Banana will help those who complain about a lack of healthy sleep. It contains Potassium and tryptophan, a chemical that will induce you into deep and calm slumber.
For a good night sleep, avoid foods that are difficult to digest, e.g., spicy foods and citrus fruits.
Many different factors have to be considered to zero in on the right diet before sleep.
To put it simple, a low carbohydrate diet with a considerable proportion of healthy fats and fiber is highly recommended.
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Eating Before Bed: Pros and Cons
There’s nothing like a big, homemade meal, a late-night chip chow down or a warm cookie before bed after a long day. After all, you work hard! Treat yo’self. But is eating after bed bad for you? Can it effect weight loss (or lack thereof)? What about its impact on your sleep? The answers to those questions range across the board, from nutritionists to trainers to sleep experts, and many experts disagree on whether or not you should eat food before bed.
Those who argue for the pros to eating before bed say that a big meal can help you fall to sleep and stay asleep, while many who argue the cons say that eating a lot before you go to bed can lead to weight gain. At Leesa, sleep is kind of our thing. We are breaking down the pros and cons of snacking before bed and sharing some helpful tricks and best practices for your nighttime meals.
Pros of Eating Before Bed
Some experts argue that eating before bed has more pros than cons and can actually be beneficial to your health.
Weight Loss vs. Gain
Instead of causing weight gain like many people believe, many experts say that eating before bed can actually promote weight loss. It might sound crazy, but your body needs energy when you sleep—after all, sleep is how your body recharges so that you wake up rested and ready to conquer the day. In fact, many studies show that your metabolic rate is almost the same while you’re asleep as it is when you’re awake, so your body needs sustenance while you’re snoozing. A protein-rich snack will help your body continue to burn fat while you’re asleep and can keep your blood sugar stable, letting you get more restful sleep.
That being said, a major factor when it comes to whether late-night eating causes weight gain has to do with what kind of meal or snack you have. As we mentioned, a snack that is high in protein and carbs will give your body the fuel it needs to function properly while you sleep and help promote weight loss, not gain. If you need to snack at night (or want to sip on something before bed), try to choose something healthy. A great nighttime snack is cottage cheese or turkey (both are sources of protein), which are both high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is sleep-inducing. You can also try decaffeinated tea, some of which are even made specifically for bedtime. Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a hormone in your body that makes you sleepy.
Fall Asleep Faster and Sleep Better
We all have our go-to comfort foods—mac’n’cheese, warm soup, grilled cheese—we’re hungry just thinking about it. After you indulge in your favorite meal, nothing’s better than curling up on the sofa under a blanket—the ultimate couch-potato. The coma-like state related to eating your favorite comfort foods also applies to having a big dinner or bedtime snack before bed. Some experts correlate eating at night with better sleep. They argue that if you eat something before you go to sleep, your stomach feels full and you may fall asleep faster and sleep longer Plus, you won’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
Wait, wait, wait—so, are we saying you can stuff yourself full of your favorite foods and it’s actually good for you? Sorry, not quite. We’re not encouraging you to eat a whole gallon of ice cream or a third (or fourth) serving of chicken and dumplings every night before bed. Your nighttime meal or snack should have some nutritional value. Try an apple with peanut or almond butter or a piece of avocado toast as a tasty, healthy late-night snack.
For people who are comforted by food, specifically by a bedtime snack, having a small, planned snack about an hour and a half after dinner can help curb unplanned snacking later in the night. Plus, if you eat a little more at night, you won’t wake up as hungry in the morning and therefore, you’ll eat less during the day, decreasing your daily calorie intake.
Cons of Eating Before Bed
Probably more often than not, you hear from nutritionists, fitness trainers and sleep experts that it’s bad to eat before bed. But why?
Your Metabolism Works Slower at Night
Many argue that your body’s metabolism slows slightly while you’re asleep, so anything you eat before bed is burned off more slowly (although many experts argue that your metabolism is just as active while you sleep). This is especially true of carbs. While you’re asleep, your body won’t burn off carbs like it does when you’re active and awake. Foods like pasta and pizza, as delicious as they are, are not the best choices for right before bed.
Indigestion and Heartburn
If you eat a big meal before bed, you may experience indigestion or heartburn. Even if you don’t deal with indigestion during the day normally, if you eat a lot and then immediately get in bed, laying horizontally could cause acid reflux, symptoms of which include heartburn, trouble swallowing and nighttime asthma. Experts recommend spacing meals or snacking and bedtime so that your body has time to digest before you crawl under your sheets.
Meal Sizes at Dinner
The evening is the time of day when many people are the hungriest, so they get in the habit of eating their biggest meal in the evening. This can start the cycle of eating too much at night (and over eating in general). Think about it—if you’re stuffed when you go to bed, you won’t be as hungry for breakfast, so you’ll eat less breakfast and a smaller lunch. By the time dinner rolls around again, you’re really hungry and you’ll end up eating more calories than you should (you may even want another small meal or snack after dinner, too). If you can train your body to consume the most calories earlier in the day, your body has more time to digest and metabolize them. Plus, you’ll be less hungry at dinnertime, when you should be having a lower calorie meal.
Making Unhealthy Choices
Another con to nighttime meals or snacks is food choice. Many people reach for something unhealthy as a late-night snack, like chips, a slice of pizza or cookies, instead of something healthy. Not to mention that a popular nighttime snacking activity sitting in front of the TV. If you’re reaching into a bag of chips repeatedly while binge-watching your favorite show, you’re more likely to over eat. (Guilty!) This can tip your daily calorie scale, too.
Tips for Nighttime Snacking
Make Healthy Choices
If you’re going to have a bedtime snack or late dinner before bed, try and steer clear of sweets and junk food. Foods that are high in sugar and unhealthy fat aren’t great before bed—they are usually high in calories and can trigger cravings for more. For example, when you swear you’re just going to have one Oreo but end up eating a whole row. Hey, sometimes it happens, but it’s not a good habit to get into.
Some good nighttime snacks include complex carbs like whole grains, fruits or veggies or a protein or small portion of fat. This snack will give you a little energy going into bedtime, keep you full all night and keep your blood sugar stable while you sleep.
How Long Before Bed Should you Stop Eating?
So, what’s the rule here? Should you wait 30 minutes before going to bed after eating just like your mom always made you wait at the pool? Nope, you should actually allow more time. Experts recommend waiting at least three hours after you’ve eaten to go to bed. This allows your body time to digest your food so you’re not up at night with an upset stomach, indigestion or heartburn.
That being said, don’t forego a meal to follow this rule. Life happens. If you don’t get home until 8:30 p.m. and want to be in bed by 10 p.m., you shouldn’t skip dinner just because you won’t have three hours between eating and bedtime. The three-hour rule isn’t a “must,” it’s just a guideline to follow when you can (much like the 30-minute rule at the pool).
Many dietitians and nutritionists suggest a fasting period at night to increase weight loss and healthy metabolism. Some popular options are 12- or 15-hour fasting schedules. For example, if you’re on a 12-hour fasting schedule, you would only eat for 12 hours of the day. So, you eat from the first thing you eat for breakfast to last thing you eat, whether that’s dinner, dessert or a snack, let’s say from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Then, from 8 p.m. to the next morning at 8 a.m., you fast. Not only can fasting help with weight loss, but it can also help you improve your sleep. If you don’t eat past 8 p.m., you aren’t stuffed from a huge meal right before you crawl into bed. Your body has already started to break down your last meal, so you don’t have heartburn or indigestion when it’s time for bed either.
You may still be a little confused whether or not eating before bed is good or bad and that’s probably because there isn’t a definitive answer. You have to find the eating schedule that’s right for your lifestyle and body—everyone’s different. What works for your partner might not work for you. You may be on a different eating schedule than your best friend. But whether you thrive on late-night snack or prefer to stick to the three-hour rule, try and make healthy choices and listen to your body so that you stay healthy and get your best, most restful sleep.