The Case For Eating Your Carbohydrates Later in the Day – Revised
Carbohydrate intake is subject to a lot of misconceptions and myths, one of them being the timing they should be consumed.
Since 1982, from sheer observation and from experience, I have been recommending eating them later in the day.
Not only does it help from a body composition change standpoint, but also for enhancing sleep. This was going against the grain (no pun intended) of bodybuilding gurus who advocated eating carbs in the morning.
Along the years, various diet protocols followed that pattern. A few of the latest to come along being the “Carb Back-loading” protocol created by John Kiefer. Ben Pakulski, helped popularize it amongst others . He is a strong proponent of the meat and nuts breakfast too. The Biorhythm Diet, proposed by Borge Fagerli (1) is another case in point. Beside my observation and experience, many studies came out, backing up this protocol of nutrient timing.
Backed-up by science
In 1997 (2), a study showed how by eating 70% of your carbs in the evening while being on a moderate diet, you would lose more Fat, even though less total bodyweight was lost. Why? The morning carb feeding group would lose 30% of muscles, compared to 7% in the evening group.
Another 2011 study ads to the evening-carb recommendation (3). 78 Israeli police officers were observed over 6 months, divided into two group. As in the previous study, one group had their carbs in the morning, mostly, and the other group in the evening.The study doesn’t mention what was the source of carbs, but we can fairly assume they were donuts. And what do you think? Same results! More fat loss with the evening group, and improvement in different health markers, such as blood glucose levels, insuline sensitivity, etc.
In a 2013 study, by the same authors (4) suggested” that a low-calorie diet with carbohydrates eaten at dinner can modulate positively daytime hormonal profiles. Taken together with earlier results, we believe this diet regime may prevent mid-day hunger, better support weight loss and improve metabolic outcomes compared to conventional weight loss diets.”
And a 2014 study (5), showed that “Eating carbohydrates mostly at dinner and protein mostly at lunch within a hypocaloric balanced diet had a higher effect on dietary induced thermogenesis compared with control diet. Moreover, eating carbohydrates mostly at lunch and protein mostly at dinner had a damaging impact on glucose homeostasis.”
So, here are my takeaways for those of you who deserve their carbs
Ingest high protein, high (good) fat meals in the morning – my meat and nuts breakfast – up to early afternoon.
Ingest high carb meals in the evening, so you will rise your leptin signal, which will increase the fat burning during the night and the following day. By eating carbs in the evening, you will increase serotonin, making you sleepy.
If you train in the morning, have some carbs after training, to replenish. Maybe up to 30% of your daily carbs allowance. In the end, you have to individualize
Coach Charles R. Poliquin
1) Fagerli, Borge, http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?108-The-Biorhythm-Diet
2) Keim et al. Weight loss is greater with consumption of large morning meals and fat-free mass is preserved with large evening meals in women on a controlled weight reduction regimen., J Nutr. 1997 January; 127 (1) :75-82.
3) Sofer et al. Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner., Obesity (Silver Spring) 2011 Apr 7
4) Sofer et al. Changes in daily leptin, ghrelin and adiponectin profiles following a diet with carbohydrates eaten at dinner in obese subjects., Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 Aug;23(8):744-50
5) Alves et Al., Eating carbohydrate mostly at lunch and protein mostly at dinner within a covert hypocaloric diet influences morning glucose homeostasis in overweight/obese men. Eur J Nutr. 2014 Feb;53(1):49-60