carbs at night

Carbs at Night

You’ve all heard it before: If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure you avoid carbs before bed.

But where did this fitness tip come from? And what does the science say about carbs at night? I’m going to take a closer look at this common weight loss advice, and decide just how harmful carbs at night can be.

The Low Down on Carbs at Night

The no carbs at night rule is really just based on logical reasoning. The assumption is that your metabolism slows down at night and limits the conversion of carbs into energy. Instead, the suggestion is that carbs are more easily stored as fat. The other assumption underlying this reasoning is that insulin sensitivity is reduced while you sleep, making fat conversion even more likely.

While these assumptions make sense, they’re not entirely accurate. Luckily, there’s some science out there on these very issues.

What is the Science Saying about Carbs at Night?

First, about your metabolism slowing down at night, researchers have shown that this isn’t entirely accurate. Although your sleeping metabolic rate does slow down during the first half of sleep, it actually increases late in the night as you experience longer and more frequent periods of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

The overall result, the scientists concluded, is that your sleeping metabolism over the course of a an entire night isn’t any different than your resting metabolism during the day (when you’re not exercising or moving).

Other researchers have shown that people with more lean muscle mass actually have a higher sleeping metabolic rate compared to their resting metabolism during the day. So if you’re in good shape already, there’s really no concern at all.

As for the issue of insulin sensitivity reducing at night, studies have shown that this not the case. In fact, it has been demonstrated that people who eat carbs at night have higher levels of the hormone adiponectin, which is responsible for increased insulin sensitivity and an enhanced metabolism. So much for that myth.

But there’s a catch…

Although the science seems to be suggesting that carbs at night really aren’t so bad, you do have to watch what kinds of carbs you’re eating. Unfortunately, many people get the munchies late at night, and this is definitely not a good thing for dieting. You have to make sure you avoid the salty and sweet stuff, and go for something healthy.

Better yet, go for something that gives your metabolism a little boost before you hit the sheets. Here are a few recommendations for healthy, metabolism-boosting snacks before bed:

  • A protein shake using fat-free milk, fresh or frozen fruit, and a scoop of the timed release protein Combat Powder.
  • Nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios are full of healthy fats and protein.
  • Protein-rich, low-fat hummus and fresh veggies like cucumbers, carrots, and celery.
  • Apple slices and a tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter or almond butter.
  • A cup or two of low-fat, all-natural popcorn.

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