Should I avoid carbs in the evening?

Some of us try to avoid carbohydrates in the evening, in the hope that it will help us lose weight. We’re told that we’re going to sleep soon, so anything we eat later in the day will just be stored as fat. If we want to eat carbohydrates, then we should eat them earlier, for breakfast, when we are going to burn them off.

Is this true?

The body doesn’t really work like that. If you eat more than you need on any given day, it will be stored as fat, whether it’s carbs you’ve eaten, or fat or even protein. Consume more calories than you’re burning and your body will store it. And it will store it as fat, even if you eat it all at breakfast.

Basically, your body works on physics. It’s a ‘closed system’ and the energy that goes in (food and drink) will be either stored as mass (fat or muscle) or burned as energy (either metabolic processes or exercise).

If you are training hard, are eating a set number of calories and have all of your ‘macros’ down pat (ie the proportions of fat, protein and carbs), then the timing of the carbs might make a small difference. But lets face it, very few of us are doing that.

What matters most to our bodies is calories. Clearly, a more nutrient-dense option is going to be better for our health (brown bread over white). However, if you really want carbs in the evening, then going without is probably going to lead to overeating later.

I really enjoy carbs in the evening. They help the brain release Serotonin, which is a relaxant and anti-depressant. They help me sleep. And I like a bigger meal then. It suits me and if it’s your preference too, then there is no reason not to have it.

What does suit you? Do you like carbs at night?

The Potato: 19 lumps of sugar or superfood?

This appeared in the British media a few days ago:
“The nation’s obesity crisis is partly being fuelled by the seemingly harmless potato.
Scientists have found a single baked spud contains the equivalent of 19 lumps of sugar.”
 
Five years ago, in the same press:
“Ignored by dieters because they are ‘fattening’, few would class the potato as a ‘wonder food’ packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
But the spud is actually better for the body than traditional superfoods – such as bananas, broccoli, beetroot, nuts and avocado, a study has found.
The researchers said people are wrong to shun it in favour of modern and more expensive alternatives.”
 
No wonder we are all confused about what to eat…
 
So what are the facts?
 
Potatoes are high in fibre (more than five times the amount in a banana), vitamin C (more than in an orange) and Selenium, an important mineral for immune health. There is also some evidence that they may lower blood pressure.
 
However, they have a high glycemic load, which means that the energy in them (carbohydrates) is released quickly, which leads to a spike in insulin. This isn’t great for weight management, as it can set off a roller coaster of sugar and insulin. Eating protein with the potato would minimise this effect.
 
Sweet potatoes have a much lower glycemic load, and are possibly a choice that is easier on the body. Although that isn’t going to help if you really fancy a potato: baked, mashed, boiled or in a salad.
 
A potato is neither going to kill us or rescue our health. It’s just a potato.

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