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Best Time to Eat Carbs

Eat Carbs, Lose Weight: It's All About Timing

Despite what popular diets say, carbs are not the enemy. But if you're on a weight-loss mission, a diet that's heavy in calorie-dense carbs is not going to support these goals. Luckily, many experts agree: you can have your carbs — and eat them, too! — just make sure it's for breakfast.


Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Glen Giffen

Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper tells his clients on the ranch to "front load their carbohydrates." Many people ask Bob if they should be cutting carbs entirely, but he completely disagrees, since "your body needs carbs for fuel." When you eat carbs earlier in the day, however, "you'll know you'll have time to burn them off" with exercise.

Celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson also recommends that his clients skip carbs later in the day — especially if they're getting ready for an important event! Foods like rice, grains, pastas, oatmeal, and potatoes make your body retain water, "which blurs, to a certain degree, definition and muscle separation," he says.

Manhattan-based nutritionist and registered dietitian Shira Lenchewski explains the science backs up these celebrity trainer claims. Our bodies' circadian rhythm, or "internal time-keeping system," plays a huge role in "metabolic and hormonal changes over 24-hour cycles." Carbohydrate metabolism fluctuates around the circadian cycle, meaning that "[carbs] are burned more efficiently in the morning than at night." For clients trying to lose weight, she recommends that the largest meal (higher in carbohydrates) is breakfast; the rest of your meals should be "trending smaller as the day goes on."

Not sure what constitutes a healthy carb-laden breakfast? Keep reading for some of our favorite recipes.

Apple-Quinoa Bake: 44.3 grams


Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

Whip up this gluten-free quinoa bake featuring soft, cinnamon-spiced apples; plump raisins; and crunchy almonds. Bake a batch ahead of time, so you can enjoy this healthy breakfast all week long.

Superfood Pancakes: 58.6 grams


Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

Inject some greens into your favorite breakfast! These spinach, banana, and blueberry superfood pancakes might have an earthy hue, but don't fret — they do not taste too "green." Even better, they're full of fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate.

Harley Pasternak's Breakfast Smoothie: 71.9 grams


Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Michele Foley

It's not just about the bread — smoothies can be a healthy source of carbs from all that fresh fruit. Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak recommends this apple smoothie made with just a few ingredients to many of his clients. This recipe packs major nutrients and vitamins to get your day off to a good start.

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Join The Conversation
lcalin lcalin 1 year

Another article of your says heavy load on the protein for breakfast! Which is best?

McCartneyGreen McCartneyGreen 2 years
Regardless of whether people think the author is wrong or right about front loading carbs or backloading, the apple quinoa bake recipe is wonderful. Of course, I LOVE the taste of quinoa, so I'm biased. Yes, yes, bottom line, to lose weight, eat fewer calories. Hey and exercise really helps. However, from my OWN experience, I can lose weight easier if I eat less starchy carbs, and only eat them earlier in the day. Isn't it funny how some people think they know everything and assume what THEY think is correct, is what will work for everyone? Each person is different, with a different makeup and different metabolism and to say someone is definitely "wrong" is a bit pretentious, don't ya think?
Steve15027831 Steve15027831 2 years
People really got to stop spreading bad advice. Many people only believe in backloading carbs - eating them at the end of the day. This time, we're hearing to front-load them.. and neither party is right. You can eat carbs anytime you want.. It's excess calories over maintenance that lead to body fat.. not eating carbs at the wrong time. Sorry Bob.. but you are most definitely wrong on this one.
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