Carbohydrates are loved and vilified in equal measure. As far as weight loss goes, they are the enemy that must be avoided, especially after sunset. The battle against putting on fat has for a long time been waged against carbohydrates, and the mass opinion is that as early as the afternoon going into the night, they should be avoided. But is there any proof or science to back this up?
Much of what is passed as fact concerning this whole carb-nighttime relationship is mostly just opinion. And it’s easy to see the thought process that leads to it. Excess carbohydrates are converted into fat. When you are asleep, your energy expenditure is low, so it follows that any ingested carbohydrates will be converted to fat, right? Well, not exactly.
How the body gains weight?
Weight gain, you should understand, is not simply a carb problem. Rather, it’s a math one. If you take in more calories than you expend, the excess will be stored as fat. That is basically how weight gain occurs. So, if you take in as many carbs as you use up, then it does not matter when you take them. The books will be balanced and you will not gain any weight at all. So one very important variable here is how much you eat.
The second is what you eat. Carbs are wildly unequal, and some will pack on more than others. Healthy slow digesting carbohydrates provide glucose in titrated measures, ensuring your insulin response is consistent and predictable. Eating healthy carbs will ensure you stay fuller for longer, and do not go beyond your required calorie intake.
Carbs are broken down into glucose, and excess glucose into glycogen which is stored in the muscles and the liver. If you exercise regularly, your muscle glycogen stores need replenishing and only carbs can enable this. So, taking them in the night won’t stimulate fat gain, if you have an active lifestyle. Your metabolism isn’t inactive in the night, as is the popular myth. Any carbohydrates consumed in the night, regardless of quantity, will be put to use as long as they fall under your calorific needs.
Your meal timing does not influence weight gain in any direct way. There are other factors in play, most notably, your hormones.
There are a few but sufficiently credible studies on the subject if you care to find the research on the same. The conclusion for all of them has been that a night time indulgence in carbohydrates does not culminate in weight gain.
The argument against carbs is therefore a futile one. And it is definitely a myth. Do not deny yourself the carbs you crave and need because of popular opinion. As long as your carb intake matches what you use up, you can eat up to 70% of your carbs at night and gain no additional weight. In fact, as one study demonstrated, this intake helps with preservation of muscle mass and actually helps with weight loss.
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