Busting The Carbs At Night Myth

Why cutting carbs at night doesn’t help you lose fat – and when to eat carbs to get lean.

You’ve probably heard about avoiding carbs at night. But if you’ve taken that nutrition advice, then odds are you didn’t get the results you expected.

That leads to frustration because you feel like you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. Yet you don’t have the lean physique you want.

Well, I’m here to help you understand why cutting carbs at night for fat loss is a myth. In addition, I’ll show you when to eat carbs so you can burn more fat and improve your muscle definition.

carbs at night myth

The Truth About Carb Timing

The truth is, eating carbs at night isn’t what makes us gain weight. Instead, we get fat when a hormone called insulin is elevated continuously.

Insulin’s job is to get sugars (carbs) out of your bloodstream and into your body. Therefore, when you eat a lot of carbs throughout the day, your insulin level stays high.

In reality, reducing carbs at night doesn’t decrease total daily insulin levels that much. And that’s why it doesn’t help you lose weight. It’s kind of like scraping the sprinkles off of a donut. Technically it’s healthier, but it’s not going to help you lose weight!

For example, let’s say I eat carbs for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a couple of snacks during the day. But then I cut carbs at 7 pm instead of having another snack. In this case, my total insulin level doesn’t change much compared to the rest of the day.

Carbs At Night By Fitness Goal

It’s important to realize that when insulin is high your body doesn’t burn as much fat. Instead it burns carbs or stores carbs. And when insulin is high for prolonged periods, those carbs are more likely to be stored as fat.

That means, if your goal is to lose fat, you should focus on reducing insulin overall and not just at night. In other words, don’t just scrape the sprinkles off the donut, eat something other than a donut!

Despite carbs’ reputation for fat gain, insulin isn’t always bad. In fact, it’s beneficial at certain times such as around your workouts. So for those of us who work out in the evening, eating carbs at night is actually a good thing!

3 Unexpected Benefits of Carbs

  • Switch off bad hormones
  • Enhance recovery from exercise
  • Increase lean muscle

Switch Off Bad Hormones

When I say “bad hormones” I’m referring to catabolic hormones like cortisol that break down proteins. They’re not inherently bad, but they’re not beneficial for recovery and growth after workouts.

On the other hand, eating carbs releases insulin, which is an anabolic hormone that builds new proteins. Insulin counteracts catabolic hormones and aids with recovery and growth.

Enhance Recovery from Exercise

In addition, eating carbs after you exercise can help you recover faster. Insulin delivers minerals and amino acids to your muscles, which enable your body to heal and grow after strenuous workouts.

Increase Lean Muscle

Thirdly, carbs help you build lean muscle. That’s because insulin increases protein synthesis, which allows your muscles to build up instead of break down. And lean muscle increases your metabolism, so you can burn more fat!

All in all, carbs are not the enemy. They can actually be your friend when used properly. Yet you also can’t overdo it with carbs if you want to get lean.

So how exactly do you include carbs in your daily meals in order to burn fat without losing muscle?

When to Eat Carbs

To summarize, our goal is to keep insulin low most of the day then make it go up around workouts. That means you should eat fewer carbs except before and after workouts.

Then, your body is more sensitive to the beneficial effects of insulin when you do eat carbs. This is called insulin sensitivity and it’s what allows you to eat carbs without gaining fat.

In addition, exercise also increases your insulin sensitivity. So to repeat, the best time to eat carbs is around your workouts, especially after.

Carbs At Night Around Workout

In this example, insulin is kept low in the morning but raised in the afternoon and evening around the workout. Keep in mind that pre-workout carbs are optional depending on your goals.

Likewise, if you workout in the morning or mid-day, you would shift your carb intake accordingly. And of course, you also have to know what kind of carbs to eat and how much of them to eat!

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