I’m struggling with weight loss and have been following a very low carbohydrate diet. I still include rice, beans and potatoes but in very limited amounts. When first embarking on this plan I read a lot, including many of your thoughts on carbohydrates, sugars and what/when to eat etc.
But a new study just came out that says people who eat most of their carbohydrates at dinner lost weight. It had something to do with a hormone being released and the study referenced Muslims and their eating habits during Ramadan.
This is obviously contradictory to everything I’ve ever heard (and what you say) so I’m really confused. Should I be eating carbs at night? Is that what I need to do to resume weight loss?
I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this.
Hey Sally, how are you?
You know this is another one of those times when I just scratch my head and say ‘Really?!’. Who is in charge of these studies anyway?
First of all this isn’t a new study, but one from 2011 that involved only 63 obese people between the ages of 25 and 55. Interestingly all of the participants were police officers. There were two groups to compare – one who ate carbohydrates evenly throughout the day and the other, which ate most carbohydrates at dinner. After 180 days the group who ate carbs at night reported reduced hunger, lower waist circumferences, more fat loss and overall better health markers. So does this mean you should run out and make pasta for dinner? Heck no!
For one, you can’t compare the average individual who’s on a diet to Muslims fasting during Ramadan. There’s an entire cascade of hormonal changes taking place within the body when fasting, so to say that simply eating more carbs at night – like Muslims do – is narrow minded. Second, what type of carbohydrates are we talking about? I would never suggest eating potatoes, fruit, pasts, bread or any starchy carb at night when activity levels are lowest.
The research suggests that high carbohydrate meals modify the release of a hormone called Leptin, which apparently can make you feel full and not hungry at all the day after a ‘power meal’. Again I take issue with this statement as well. Eating carbs at night may very well reduce hunger but let’s be honest – most obese people don’t eat because they’re hungry. They eat because they want to, to avoid problems, to self soothe. There’s almost always underlying issues that need to be addressed. So in this instance the reduced hunger point becomes totally invalid and mute. Plus we know that high carbohydrate meals lead to insulin spikes and crashes, irritability, lethargy, achiness and restless sleep. Those are proven facts. Another fact is that without some form of steady carbohydrates during the day, your energy will be lower and more erratic. Plain and simple – your body needs carbohydrates to run smoothly. Of course I’m a huge fan of the Paleo plan so I get most of my carbohydrates by way of vegetables and love all varieties, especially squash.
My other big problem is that as far as I know, no exercise was included in the study participants 180-day program. Even though they lost weight and inches, I’d like to see bodyfat testing metrics in place to see what their composition was prior to starting. It’s no secret that people who exercise need more calories in general and that carbohydrates and more importantly, carbohydrate timing, plays a key role in muscular energy. So if you’re an exercising individual, simply saving your carbs for night time feeding makes ZERO sense in my opinion.
Listen Sally, I’m sure you’re frustrated with your weight loss slowing down. That’s normal. But when it comes to health and overall fitness, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single fitness professional that recommends waiting till dinner to eat the majority of your carbohydrates. ‘Studies’ like these are grossly misleading and in truth, 63 people is hardly a large enough sample of participants to make such bold suggestions.
I’ll recommend what I always do – cross train with varied exercise modalities, eat lean meats, veggies, nuts, seeds, health fats and little sugars. Be sure to get enough sleep and drink plenty of water. I don’t suggest that you eat starchy carbs at night at all. That’s my opinion.
Let me know how it goes and if any of you out there would like to book a more in-depth consultation with me – just drop me a line via the How To Book button in the sidebar.
And if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
All information contained within this site, Angry Trainer Fitness.com, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.