When Is the Best Time Of Day to Eat Carbs?


By Taylor Robbins, C.S.C.S

Hi, this is Taylor from Body Temple System: Training, Nutrition and Mental Breakthrough.
What I want to talk about to you today is when should you eat carbohydrates.
I feel like a lot of us when hear it in fitness magazines, on tv, and on diets that the best time to eat carbs is at the beginning of the day. This way you’ll use them for energy throughout your day. In doing so, they say don’t have carbs at night when you go to bed because supposedly we’re gonna be super fat if we end up doing that.
I just want to clear up this topic about carb timing and it’s going to be very different than what you’ve heard. It’s gonna surprise you and it’s not gonna make sense so I will do my best to explain it to you because there is a lot of scientific research and literature that shows the benefits of what I’m about to share. But also we’ve been in the trenches working with our clients, in their online programs and they see the difference too.
So, the best time to eat carbs is actually at night before you go to bed and not at the beginning of the day.
In fact, you shouldn’t have any carbs in the first half of your day. And we’ll talk about individualization of nutrition (as there are no blanket statements in science) and carbohydrates post workout, and that amount depends on how much body fat you have, how intense the workout was, which muscle group you worked, etc. All that comes into account; however, the factor remains you need to be eating carbs at night.
Let’s look at a couple of studies here. A study in Ireland showed that when carbs are eaten at night time before bed, there were multiple health and body composition benefits such as:
•  Lowered body inflammation
•  Improved weight loss – the people who loaded more carbohydrates at dinner time before bed had more weight loss than other group which did that at the beginning of the day
•  Improved leptin sensitivity (our satiety hormone) – you want to be sensitive to leptin because that means you’re being sensitive to the fact that your full, your body knows that it has gotten off nutrients, you won’t overeat. And when you don’t overeat, you won’t get fat.
•  Improved fat loss
A study on 78 men and women done by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem showed that carbs eaten at dinner time helped improve mid-day hunger. There was a questionnaire about their hunger every 2 hours for 20 hour period throughout the day. They rated what their level of hunger was and people who were eating no carbohydrates almost at all throughout the first two-thirds of the day and only eating carbs at dinner time before bed struggled with less hunger during the day. Here is another reason why you should eat carbs at night time.
One interesting fact about carbs is carb ingestion also raises tryptophan in the blood plasma and correlatively raises serotonin concentration in the brain. This lines up with natural circadian rhythms to allow better sleep quality and thus improved weight loss, fat loss, nutrient partitioning, recovery and immune health. Sleep is the foundation of nutrition and training. If you’re getting amazing sleep due to high serotonin concentration in response to later-day carb feeding, this gonna help the longevity of your weight loss process.
In 1997, a study showed how by eating more of your carbs at night while being in a moderate diet, you would lose more fat, even though less total bodyweight was lost. This occurred because the morning carb group was losing more muscle than the evening carb group. Yeah, you actually build muscle more effectively too.
(2) Keim et al. Weight loss is greater with consumption of large morning meals and fat-free mass is preserved with large evening meals in women on a controlled weight reduction regimen., J Nutr. 1997 January; 127 (1) :75-82.
Individualization becomes a part of this whole equation. Those of you who are getting more on the lean side and are having a really tough workout, you really need to have carbohydrates post workout, even if you had your workout in the morning. You need to eat 25-30% of your daily carbs after your morning workout and then the rest at dinner. You have to replenish muscle glycogen to get the cortisol out of your system because that’s gonna make your body build muscle tissue more effectively but also shred body fat and be in the right balance of your nervous system.
Carbohydrates: you want to eat them at the end of your day at dinner time, but guess what…that’s good news!!! Whooh! You have dinner time, you get to enjoy carbohydrates and the carbohydrates are fun. This is a good thing. Now if you’re used to eating blueberry pancakes, waffles, fruit smoothies, oatmeal and all these different carbs that are carb dense for breakfast, it might be difficult to change that habit at first. But I’m telling you, based on literature and anecdotal evidence that we see with clients and even from other health and fitness professionals, it is highly beneficial to keep your carbohydrates at the end of your day and again it comes back to individualization as well.
There are some people who do better on high carbohydrate diets. There is no absolute in science. There might be some people who do better with carbs at the beginning of the day. I’m not gonna say in a blanket statement that it’s always best to have carbs at night. But, for all intents and purposes and the discussion here in helping most of you to burst through plateaus and to see progress, keep your carbs at night time.
Why? Because
(1) it’s more natural to your circadian rhythm,
(2) it’s releasing tryptophan which is gonna be a pre cursor to serotonin so you’ve got more serotonin you get better sleep
(3) you also gonna curve your insulin blood sugar more effectively by not having carbohydrates in the first part of the day so you gonna help the fat loss process, you become more sensitive to insulin
(4) improving leptin sensitivity.
Just do it, try it out.

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