When it comes to food intake, there are a few things you might want to observe to stay fit. Most people are aware of eating protein and avoid fatty foods while on a weight loss journey.
But what about carbs? When is the best time of the day to eat carbs?
That’s where it gets tricky, considering the many schools of thought regarding carb intake. There are those who maintain that perfect time to consume most of your carbohydrates is before a workout.
Some recommend eating carbohydrates mainly in the morning, while others insist most of your carbs should be eaten at night.
Truth is, research that specifies a recommended timing of carbohydrates is still a work in progress
When is the best time to eat carbs?
Either way, here’s a good start as we’ve put together some of the most sensible and helpful tips to guide you when you need to get those carbs.
First thing in the morning
As soon as you wake up, take carbohydrates like granola, porridge and fruit along with some protein right away. Normally, the body breaks down most carbs and turns them into glucose. The body stores glucose in the muscles. So if you train hard you need carbs to replenish, don’t train hard enough you will convert this into fat.
But while you’re sleeping, your body goes in search of carbohydrates that it has stored away. This stored form of glucose is called glycogen. The body breaks down glycogen to release glucose so the body’s cells to get fuel.
Complex carbohydrates for dinner
The best time for intake of complex carbohydrates such as those found in whole grains, vegetables, peas and beans is during dinner. Scientists say eating complex carb at night modified a “satiety hormone” and a protein regulating the secretion of insulin. The trick is to consume healthy carbs in modest portions.
Carbs to eat throughout the day
There are certain carbs you should eat throughout the day. Carbohydrates with other nutrients make a great choice. For instance, you will digest food with fibre like sweet potato much slower than white rice. There are also better options than just eating white pasta or white bread, like a cup of nuts or berries. Go for a recommended 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal.
Carbs before exercising
Your body needs carbs for nourishment, and this holds true especially before you work out. Since your body will require an immediate energy source, carbs will give you the energy that acts quickly when you’re on the move.
Without that energy source, you’ll burn up fuel quickly and won’t be able to optimise your workout as you’ll tire quickly. You can go to as much as 150 to 200 calories for your pre-workout snacks. Having a snack rich in carbohydrates with protein before an intense workout will do wonders. Eat something that digests with ease some 30 to 60 minutes before you exercise. Since fat takes the longest time to digest, avoid ingesting something with plenty of fat. A banana, nuts, and porridge, on the other hand, sound good.
Carbs and protein after working out
Yes, you’re exhausted after burning all that energy from all that exercise. That means you need to replenish your body with protein and, yes, even carbs immediately. Within half an hour, you need protein to rejuvenate your muscles and carbs to restore your all that glycogen depleted from your workout. Sliced bread, peanut butter and banana will do the trick.
Carbs for competition
Exercise is one thing. Entering a competition is another. Whether it’s football, rugby, triathlon or any physical activity that demands more than the usual effort, then you need to do some serious carb-loading the night before that’s just as serious, perhaps even before that. Doing this ensures that your body gets the optimum, much-needed fuel when you embark on a gruelling, strenuous activity. Loading up on carbs and timing it well is a surefire way that you perform to your expectations come game day.
Carb intake depends on your goal
Make sure to adjust the portion range of your food intake depending on the activity you’re engaging in. Trying to lose weight or making sure it doesn’t go up any further? Don’t stray beyond 45 grams of carbs per meal. Athletes or those who work out several times each week should aim something closer to 60 grams per meal. Take note that every time you exercise, the body must work to repair muscles, so, again, make sure your carbs come with a good amount of protein. A 2:1 carb to protein ratio is a good start.
For low carb diets
For health and weight control, low carb diets have well-established benefits. Beneficial changes in body mass, lipid profiles and other health risk factors. Among these benefits are changes in lipid profiles and body mass, as well as reduction of health risk factors. At the same time, it’s been shown that nutrient timing can enhance workout performance. However, when it comes to weight loss, the trick to getting results from consuming fewer calories as opposed to completely getting rid of carbs from your diet is incorporating healthy carbohydrates in a much more balanced manner.
When in doubt …
The aim is to fit carbs into each meal for a well-balanced serving. So, if you’re not sure what program or diet to embark on, it makes perfect sense to stick to the tried and tested pattern of distributing your carbohydrates throughout the day. That means dividing evenly between meals and snacks your carb intake to maintain balanced energy levels in your waking hours. To help you stay on this standard track, getting most of your carbs from food like veggies that aren’t starchy and are naturally nutrient-dense but are low in carbs. Keep these vegetables on your list alongside those leafy greens: cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant and asparagus.