Who has ever heard of the ‘rule’ that goes something like this: “It’s forbidden to eat carbohydrates at night!” Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who stick to this. The impression is that if you eat carbs past a certain hour, they will be instantly turned into fat. This is as opposed to if you eat carbohydrates earlier in the day when this change doesn’t happen. However, is this factually true. We believe that it isn’t!
What ACTUALLY happens when you eat carbohydrates
When you eat carbohydrates your body releases insulin. (This is a hormone from your pancreas.) It helps to reduce blood sugar levels. This is done by promoting the uptake and storage of glucose.
When you exercise, less insulin is released. This is because your body is trying to make more glucose available to your muscles which are working hard under a personal trainer. However, when you sleep your body relies on stored energy to continue to fuel your brain.
If you eat carbohydrates at night it doesn’t necessarily means that you’ll automatically gain weight. However, if you eat too many calories – and don’t burn them up through exercise – you’ll gain weight. It’s not important what time of the day it is.
To determine how many calories you should be consuming on a daily basis depends on the following:
- If you are active, and
- If you are trying to lose weight.
If you eat a small amount of complex carbs at night with dinner (such as sweet potato or butternut) this can also help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
What are complex carbohydrates?
The term ‘complex carbohydrates’ refers to sugar molecules that are threaded together in long, complex chains. These types of carbohydrates can be found in foods such as:
- Whole grains, and
Complex carbohydrates are turned to glucose (which is otherwise called blood sugar) in the body. These are used as energy. Glucose is made use of in the body’s cells in addition to the brain. Any glucose which is not used is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. This will can be used later in during, for example, exercise.
Foods which contain complex carbohydrates provide vitamins, minerals, and fibre. These are important to maintain the health of a person. The bulk of carbohydrates should be taken in from complex carbohydrates (starches) in addition to sugars which do occur naturally. This is as opposed to processed or refined sugars. This because these types of sugars do not have the vitamins, minerals, and fibre which are found in complex carbohydrates. Another way of looking at refined sugars is that they are “empty calories”. This is because they contain little to no nutritional value.
Eating carbohydrates at night won’t necessarily cause you to put on weight. However you need to be smart about your intake of calories in order to avoid putting on weight and, ultimately, lose weight. For more nutritional information, why not check out Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Specialised Nutrition Course? On this qualification, you’ll learn every thing that there is to know about nutrition and to help you become a healthier person. For more information about this and our other nutrition courses, please visit our website.