Everything you know is wrong!
Ok, possibly an exaggeration. But, when it comes to health and fitness advice, many things considered as facts have either been debunked long ago or were little more than hearsay in the first place. However, because people continue to spread information without checking, they continue to grow in notoriety.
Over the coming weeks I’m going to highlight a few that you may still be considering as true. And hopefully encourage you to look more closely at the advice or ‘facts’ and consider where they came from in the first place.
No Carbs After 6pm
This seems to be the rule that is most commonly quoted.
It is generally associated with the idea that carbs are energy and therefore, if you consume them before going to bed you won’t sleep well. Or that, because it is energy, you are not going to burn it off at night and so it will turn to fat.
The reality is, from a fat loss perspective, it doesn’t matter when you consume them.
All that matters is how much you have consumed, in total, through the day (this is an area I’ll cover in future weeks).
Consuming Carbs at night can be beneficial for fat loss.
During the first wave of deep sleep your body produces higher levels of growth hormone than at any other time of the day. This hormone is your body’s biggest natural fat burner (and obviously repair mechanism) and so, if you suffer from regular nights of insomnia, you are missing out on this benefit.
If you’ve ever had a high carb lunch, you’ll know all about the 3pm slump. Your body spikes its insulin release, to flush the blood sugar, resulting in a crash causing you to want to nod off at your desk.
If you apply this to the evening then, by having something high in carbs, you’ll get the same slump and so you’re more likely to get to sleep and be getting the benefits of GH release. Not to mention more energy the next day due to being well rested, allowing for a higher level of calorie burn.
Though it can be beneficial, that doesn’t mean it is necessary or even best practice.
If you easily drift off to sleep each night, then clearly this isn’t something you need. And maybe you are better placed having your energy spike in the morning and lowering your intake as the day goes on.
Just keep in mind, there is no reason to avoid any nutrient type at specific times (except, perhaps, fats after a workout – but I’ll cover that another time). All that really matters is that the food choices you make are nutritious and plentiful enough to fuel your body for a full 24hrs.