These 2 statements are common ones. Ones that have become fairly mainstream.
It is thought that eating carbs at night will lead to fat gain but there is only one problem with this...it isn't true.
You go to bed, move less , your insulin sensitivity decreases, and your metabolism slows down. All things that lead towards carbs getting stored as fat rather than being burned for fuel.
Seems completely logical right? I could wrap my head around it.
But is it true?
Well first off, your resting metabolic rate (RMR) does not decrease when you go to bed. Although it varies throughout the your sleep cycles, overall it averages the same as during the day. You do not go into some hibernation-almost dead like state when you sleep.
Now this alone is not an excuse to eat carbs at night. If you sit at a desk all day, don't exercise, and love watching episodes of America's Got Talent at night, your carb intake should be very low.
Eating to sustain your RMR is far different than eating to perform, train and recover. But nonetheless, you still burn calories when you sleep.
Secondly, when you sleep your body repairs itself. Repairs any damage that you may have done to your cells, your nervous system, and most importantly your muscles (training and exercise).
Now again if your a sedentary individual this is not an excuses to chow down on bowls of white rice. You sat in a chair all day your muscles don't need much repairing.
But if you are training on a regular basis, have a physically intensive job, or both, eating your carbs at night is going to help your body recover, repair, and be energized for the next day.
Our bodies are primed for recovery at night. You need to make sure you give your body the proper materials it needs to go through this repairing process. And carbs are one of the necessary re-building blocks.
Now, I don't want to dig into all the science...partially because I don't know if we know ALL the science. But check this out...
I study was done in 2011 where two groups where taking, given the same amount of protein, carbs, and fat, but the control group needed to eat 80% of their carbs at night.
The control group had increased weight loss, less body fat, increased insulin sensitivity, favourable blood glucose markers, reduced LDL cholesterol, and increased HDL cholesterol. All good things if increased fat loss and improved health is on the top of your list.
The current thought is that eating your carbs at night helps balance your hormone levels and distribution. More specifically you...
- increase testosterone & human growth hormone (HGH) - assist in building and maintaining lean muscle mass (don't worry ladies you won't bulk up like the Hulk)
- Increase insulin sensitivity & leptin - increase your ability to burn fat and control hunger
- decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) - many health markers improve when your cortisol levels are low
The evidence is fairly clear that eating the majority of your carbs at night is going to have a positive effect on body composition, recovery, muscle and strength gain, as well as many health markers such as cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
Let me also tell you that I experienced first hand the positive effects of eating the majority of carbs before bed. I put on muscle, lost body fat, and my performance and energy levels shot through the roof.
So what should a typical day look like?
- Eat a high protein high fat meal for breakfast. The same could be said for lunch depending on when you train.
- Aim to eat about 30-40% of your carbs after your exercise.
- Save the remainder of your carbs for dinner.
Remember, it is important to consume the right amount of carbs for your body type, your goals, and your activity level. We are all different and have different carbohydrate needs.
Live Your Best Life!