Is There A Certain Time Of Day To EAT Carbs?
I am a fan of keeping things simple. Quality first, then focus on how much quantity and then, you may need to focus on when you consume certain nutrients. So depending on what you are trying to accomplish, and how well established in eating quality food you are, when you consume carbs may or may not be of concern to you.
However, I always feel it is beneficial to set the record straight and bring some intelligent discussion to nutrition. As you read through this article, ask yourself where you are in your journey to health and use the information as you deem relevant to where you currently sit.
All carbs are not created equal.
When the low carb craze came into being, it was actually necessary. People were consuming large quantities of highly processed carbohydrates and this needed to be addressed. So in that regard, I’m all for the low-carb movement. Unfortunately, all carbohydrates were lumped together and nobody seemed to ask the important question, “isn’t there a difference between vegetables and fruits and a box of cereal or loaf of bread?” So like most trends in nutrition and fitness, we labeled all carbs as “bad” and encouraged people to eat only fat and protein if they wanted to look their best. Wrong! If you need further evidence of why a high protein and high fat diet isn’t ideal for a great number of people, check out this article on dieting dogma.
Erase from your mind the need to label foods as “good” and “bad”, and think more along the lines of whether certain foods serve your purpose. The simple answer is processed carbs do not serve the purpose of anybody, really.
Timing is the opposite of everything you’ve ever heard.
EAT carbs late in the day, not early.
There are exceptions to this rule for body builders, high level weight-lifters, competitive CrossFitters or other athletes but most of you reading this article are NOT that! Remember, I advised you to read this article and assess where you are in your current fitness journey. Unless you are one of the above mentioned, don’t take advice from the above mentioned.
The simple rule of thumb when it comes to timing carbs is that you don’t want to eat them early in the day. Why not? A basic understanding of biology will answer this question. Weight-loss is primarily contingent upon gut health and hormone balance. Controlling important storage hormones like insulin is the key to weight/fat loss.
Understanding the basics of insulin will take you a long way in losing fat. Insulin is a storage hormone. When it is pumped out, we are now storing and no longer burning. The process is a bit more complex, but for everyday purposes, this is what you need to know.
When we eat carbs, there is a fairly significant insulin response. Eat foods that raise blood glucose, get an insulin response. The higher the glycemic index of the food, the bigger the insulin response. Green leafy vegetables are low glycemic, while grains like oatmeal and bread are higher glycemic. Fruits vary. So if we are trying to limit insulin production, it only makes sense that we avoid high glycemic foods. The longer we can avoid this insulin response, the longer we stay in burning mode rather than storage mode. (Now again, there are reasons body builders, weight lifters and competitive athletes want an insulin response but that’s not you.)
In addition to maintaining consistent blood sugar and low insulin levels, avoiding carbs early in the day will help you avoid cravings,maintain consistent energy levels and avoid unnecessary snacking during the day.
If you already EAT quality foods and want to lose body fat, skip the carbs at breakfast. Stick to high quality proteins, healthy fats and a handful of greens. If you don’t EAT quality foods consistently, don’t bother timing your carbs. Start with quality and consistency and build from there.