Do you avoid eating carbs at or after dinner because you heard it'll make you gain weight? These comparison photos posted by online personal trainer Graeme Tomlinson (@thefitnesschef_ on Instagram) will set the record straight.
It boils down to how much you eat, because remember that a moderate calorie deficit is what's necessary for weight loss. Registered dietitian Samantha Bartholomew of Fresh Communications shared with POPSUGAR that "it's important to think about overall quality and composition of the diet as opposed to timing of macronutrients." As long as you eat the right number of calories a day, including the appropriate amount of carbs, fats, and protein to support your goals, it doesn't matter what time you eat them. This is amazing news for the carb-lovers out there!
Registered dietitians Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh of C&J Nutrition agree and told POPSUGAR, "There's no reason to completely avoid carbohydrates at night." This is especially true for healthy, high-fiber sources of carbohydrates like whole grains and starchy veggies, such as Winter squash and potatoes. They provide important nutrients and fiber, which can help you feel more satisfied and contribute to weight loss — yes, even when you eat them at night. You just want to avoid the processed, refined carbs.
Eating healthy carbs at night may even offer a few benefits. It can increase serotonin levels, which helps you have a restful night of sleep. Eating late-night carbs also reduces cortisol levels, which can make you feel less stressed and more relaxed. In a 2011 study, the group that ate carbs at dinner had greater weight loss and body fat reductions compared to those who spread out their carbs. Bring on the carbs!
Including healthy complex carbs at or after dinner, Graeme added, "may prevent midday hunger," which can help you eat less at dinner and consume fewer daily calories. Carbs can also offer fuel for early morning workouts (we're looking at you, 6 a.m. run!).
This isn't to say that you absolutely must eat carbs at night. Experiment with a couple weeks of eating carbs at night and a couple weeks without, and see what works for you and your goals. As long as you're hitting your calories and macros, you're on the right path.