Myths and fallacies plague the world of nutrition, always have, always will!
Carbs before bed will make you fat … the logic behind this myth is that carbs provide the body with energy and so since you don’t expend a heap of energy sleeping, your body will have no choice but to store them as fat. Added to this, insulin is released putting your body into nutrient storing mode & down-regulates fat burning.
Sounds fair, right ? Except, when you sleep your body is actually pretty damn busy. There is a whole cascade of muscle repair, growth & glycogen repletion processes going on….. and guess what powers those processes…..Energy!
So, will all of those calories be stored as fat, even if you are not tipping your daily maintenance calories? NO! It doesn’t matter if you evenly space your meals or eat them within a few hours ( Intermittent fasting ) . When it comes to weight loss or weight gain, what matters is your daily energy balance.
Now, here is the big myth breaker !
Carbohydrates can help you sleep !
- A little hormone called Serotonin or the “feel good” neurotransmitter. This is the guy that improves your mood and provides you a sense of calm. When serotonin is elevated at night it enables restful sleep and it just so happens that eating carbs is necessary for the body to synthesize serotonin.
- Carbs help lower the stress hormone cortisol, which can inhibit sleep when it is elevated at night. When you eat carbs, you lower cortisol which can leave you relaxed.
Now… even though eating before bed doesn’t inherently lead to fat gain, several studies have shown a correlation between pre-bed eating and weight gain.
BUT…… it’s not the carbs before bed that make you gain unwanted body fat. It’s the type and quantity of the carbs!!!!
- Pre-bed snacking Culminates in extra calories – You’re already done for the day and what may have felt like a little something while you were watching TV just blew out your calories. There is goes daily calories in v’s out. Did you know just 4 little squares ( approx. 25g ) of Cadbury chocolate has around 140 calories, and let’s face it, who stops at 4 ?
- Mindless munching – Let’s stick with our 4 little squares of chocolate. But do you? Ever look down and the whole block has gone and you have no idea where it went ?
- It’s not the carbs! It’s the type and amount of carbs. Carbs get such a bad wrap. But let’s be super clear here, it’s the type and the quantity of the carbs you eat……not the carbs themselves. A carrot is carb. In a 50g of carrots there is approx. 50 cals and 10g of carbs. In 50g of Skittles are also a carb. There is approx. 210 cals and 50g of carbs. So.. can you see my point ?
- Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. Are you getting enough sleep or good quality sleep? If not your metabolism is affected and your hormones can go a bit nuts. Insulin your major fat storing hormone increases and so, you may store more fat. Leptin tells you when you are full – this is reduced and so you eat more. Ghrelin tells you that you are hungry so this increases and again you eat more. Cortisol, a stress hormone, influences the timing, length and quality of your sleep and yep, you guessed it, this will increase. Human growth hormone is reduced so you will store more glucose as fat. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065172/
There are many reasons that we gain body fat. Remember not all carbs are created equal. It’s not the carbs! It’s the type and amount of carbs.
Have you struggled with changing habits or losing unwanted body fat and you not sure what the best approach is for you, would you like to understand more ? Try some nutrition coaching ! https://innerfit.com.au/nutrition-coaching/ .