When trying to lose weight, the opinion of research varies on the timing of carb consumption. No study has clearly outlined the right time to eat carbs when the motive is fat loss. One study revealed that people who ate carbs only at dinner could shed more kilos than those that included carbs in every meal.
Surprisingly, another study found out that people who followed a low-carb diet and had carbs only in dinner or lunch could lose an equal number of calories. Consume carbs in the morning, according to a third study. So, there is no fixed time to eat carbs for weight loss. But is there any right time to consume carbs, which can maximize the weight loss effort?
Most foods and food groups contain carbohydrates, so you want to find the right balance. If you are an average, healthy person, eat some carbs with each meal throughout the day.
But consuming carbs earlier in the day may be better if you:
- Want to lose weight or improve blood sugar levels: “Most Americans are active early in the day and more sedentary at night,” says Patton. “Having your biggest portion of carbs in the evening can cause a blood sugar spike. Your body then stores the extra glucose that you didn’t use for energy as body fat.”
- Exercise in the morning: “If you’re exercising in the morning for less than an hour, it’s OK to exercise on an empty stomach and get in the fat-burning zone,” notes Patton. “But if you are more of an endurance athlete or exercising for more than an hour, you may need a small pre-workout snack. In either case, it’s good to have carbs to help you refuel after.”
- Have trouble sleeping: “Eating carbs at dinner can affect your sleep if you go to bed while your food is still digesting, especially if you have heartburn.”
To get the energy-fueling benefits, you need to consume the right kind of carbs. Eating processed foods can quickly spike your blood sugar. As a result, you may feel hungry just one to two hours later — and eat even more. The same can happen if you eat only carbs and don’t get enough protein and fat.
How to eat the right amount of carbs consistently?
If your Carb-eating habits leave something to be desired, Patton says these tips can get you on the path to a well-balanced diet:
- Log what you consume: Some apps can show you your total percentage of calories from carbs. These apps usually give a visual representation, such as a pie graph, for each meal. That way, you can better track your carb consumption.
- Go European: “The European style of eating tends to involve consuming your biggest meal at lunch,” notes Patton. “Since many Americans have dinner as their biggest meal, it can be as simple as swapping the two and making dinner your lighter meal.”
- Indulge in leftovers: “If you keep dinner as your bigger meal, try to eat the protein, vegetable and a smaller portion of the carb,” Patton suggests. “Then pack those leftovers for lunch the next day and have the protein and vegetables with a bigger portion of the carbs.”
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