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Myth Busting: Eating Carbohydrates in the Evening Makes You Fat

Carbohydrates get a bad rap.

They are commonly seen as the bad guy and get banished from 'diets' all too quickly in a method to shed body fat. Carbohydrates, while they are not as important as protein, are not the reason people gain weight.

A lack of a calorie deficit and lack of exercise is usually why people gain weight.

A study investigating whether a large AM meal or a large PM meal altered body weight, body composition and energy utilisation during a weight loss period concluded:

"Both weight loss and fat-free mass loss were greater with the AM than the PM meal pattern". Further to this: "ingestion of larger AM meals resulted in slightly greater weight loss, but ingestion of larger PM meals resulted in better maintenance of fat-free mass. Thus, incorporation of larger PM meals in a weight loss regimen may be important in minimising the loss of fat-free mass." Keim et al 1997.

Interestingly, carbohydrates consumed in the evening have also been shown to improve sleep quality , "evidence supports the theory that ingestion of tryptophan or a carbohydrate-rich, protein-poor meal can increase the synthesis of brain serotonin". Bonnie Spring 1984.

Basically, this means that while Carbohydrates themselves don't necessarily make generate more serotonin (the sleep hormone), it allows more space for tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is a hormone that is the precursor to serotonin and is usually fighting for space with amino acids (found in protein). With less protein (and therefore a heavier carbohydrate quantity), there is more space for the development of the sleep hormone in the brain, making you feel more sleepy.... ever had a pizza night coma??

Key Points:

  1. Eating carbohydrates in the evening does not make you fat.

  2. Carbohydrates before bed are likely to make you more sleepy.

  3. Calories in vs calories out id the underlying principle for fat loss.

Note. If you are struggling to lose weight and get confused with the countless theories and 'insta-science' out there, follow Ben Turner Athlete, sign up to the mailing list and be the first to learn the clear, evidence based principles behind fitness and nutrition.

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