Carbohydrates in the evening or not?

Traditionally, it is advisable not to eat carbohydrates in the evening, because these would be stored as fat during sleep.

More recently, we have been told that, on the contrary, it is interesting to eat carbohydrates to improve fat elimination.

So inevitably, once again we are drowned in a flood of contradictory information and we do not know what to do.

In order to guide you as well as possible, I will go into each of these theories in depth, before giving you my recommendations.

Theory # 1 : Carbohydrates are fuel for the body. If not used for energy it will be stored as fat. Therefore, if we eat carbohydrates before sleeping, they will turn into fat, since we don’t burn energy while sleeping. This theory is supported by the fact that the body uses fat for energy before sleeping, not carbohydrates.

Theory # 2 : If you exercise a few hours before sleeping, then the carbohydrates will not be stored as fat but will be used to rebuild muscle glycogen.

Theory # 3 : Carbohydrates lower the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which tends to store fat. In addition, carbohydrates increase the production of serotonin, which helps relaxation and contributes to restful sleep. Since poor sleep prevents fat loss, we can say that it is important to consume carbohydrates before sleeping.

What to think?

The first theory is based on an idea as old as the world, but which is however not entirely correct. It must be taken into account that hormones play a role that should not be overlooked, which however is not taken into account in this theory. For example, carbohydrates help lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that is triggered in response to stress, but has the downside of preventing fat loss from breaking down muscles. So not enough carbohydrates, depending on the context, can cause the opposite effect than expected.

The second theory is correct: it doesn’t matter whether you exercise when you wake up, in the middle of the day or before sleeping, the carbohydrates consumed before, during and after training will be transported to the muscles to provide them with muscle. energy and replenish muscle glycogen stock. It is even important to consume carbohydrates before and during / after training in order to optimize muscle growth.

The third theory is based on more recent research which suggests that consuming carbohydrates before sleeping has, contrary to what theory # 1 shows, a positive impact on fat loss. Here we find what I said about the importance of hormones: It’s not all about calories and nutrients. It is mostly about the impact of nutrients on hormones, depending on when and the context of mealtimes.

In fact, it is important to CUSTOMIZE your carbohydrate intake according to several parameters:

• Its percentage of fat : the more fat you are, the better you will react to a diet low in carbohydrates. In this case, the majority of carbohydrates will need to be taken around training only, regardless of the time of day. The rest of the time, focus on protein and the right fats.

• His gender: Women manage lipids better than carbohydrates, especially during the luteal phase of their cycle (between ovulation and the start of the next period). It is therefore wise, especially at this period of the cycle, to limit the consumption of carbohydrates by compensating with a higher rate of lipids. That said, a small source of carbohydrates before sleep can be very beneficial in promoting sleep onset thanks to the action of carbohydrates on serotonin, for those who have sleep-related concerns as this can be part of PMS.

• Training : As we have seen, if you are training at night then eating carbohydrates before sleeping is important.

• Your stress level : If you are stressed and / or your sleep is poor, eating carbohydrates at night will be of great help to you.

• His motivations : if you eat for a reason other than to nourish your body (by gluttony, by habit, to fill a lack etc), then plan a small reasoned pleasure like one or two squares of chocolate, 2 cookies, a small cake, with a source of protein (glass of milk, yogurt, cottage cheese …), this will prevent you from compulsively throwing yourself on carbs by rejecting the feeling of frustration.

My recommendations:

• If you decide to eat most of your carbs in the evening, then cut back on other meals.

• For a meal before bed, check the glycemic index (GI) of your food.
Go for brown rice, sweet potatoes, legumes, oatmeal and whole fruits.
If you eat high GI foods before bedtime, you may wake up hungry in the middle of the night due to hypoglycemia resulting from a spike in insulin. However, GI is lowered by other nutrients: proteins and especially lipids slow down digestion so glycemic insex is becoming an obsolete notion.

• Save most of your carbohydrates for before and during training.

And you, do you prefer to consume carbohydrates in the evening or not? Comment by explaining why!

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