I had a patient, Ms. B, swear by avoiding all sources of carbohydrates in the morning, including fruit.
She says this is the key to maintaining her energy and losing weight. She even skips breakfast some mornings to do so!
Usually, I advise the other way around: Eat carbohydrates in the morning, and avoid them late at night.
What’s going on? What’s the best way to manage your carbohydrate intake?
3 Possible Theories
1. No Morning Carbs
The Theory: Skipping carbohydrates in the morning will train your body to burn fat for fuel. Plus, some groups of people have some form of insulin sensitivity in the morning. Avoiding those carbohydrates will be easier on the pancreas.
The Problem: This is all just a guess. Unless someone has Diabetes, there is no need to worry about morning insulin sensitivity. Some diabetics may have high blood glucose in the early morning hours, and do well with a more fat and protein-based breakfast. Secondly, your body can burn fat for fuel, but it does need small amounts of carbohydrates to do so.
2. Only Complex Carbs in the Morning
The Theory: In the morning, eat plenty of complex carbohydrates like oatmeal and fruits to rev the metabolism. The body has been fasting all night, and you want to break that fast with a balanced meal including healthy carbohydrates.
The Problem: This theory is the one that there is the most research backing. However, an ideal breakfast would also include a small fat or protein source with that oatmeal like nuts, seeds, nut butter, or a boiled egg.
3. Avoid Carbs Late at Night
The Theory: Avoid carbohydrates late at night instead of early morning. The idea is that our metabolism may begin to slow slightly as we get close to bedtime, and our bodies will store these carbohydrates as fat.
The Problem: There is no truth behind that. I have known people who eat carbohydrates at night and still lose weight. However, some groups of people benefit from cutting off their food intake at a certain hour in order to restrict their calories.
Others enjoy small, healthy snacks and carbohydrates in the evenings because they feel it helps reduce cravings. If a specific routine works for you, then stick with it!
The Real Answer
Eating carbohydrates at specific times during the day to lose weight is mostly a myth!
The solid truth is that calories and how many total carbohydrates you eat are the only things that matter. The only exceptions are specific individuals that have certain health conditions, or are training for an athletic event.
Do you restrict carbohydrates at any time of day?