Bread, pasta, cake - they're all way too delicious to deprive ourselves of completely. If we must indulge in these carb-heavy goodies - yes, it's a must - is there a certain time we should eat them?
Most people would say the morning because you have the whole day to burn off the calories. Recent research from the BBC and Trust Me I'm a Doctor set out to test this theory. Here's what you need to know:
Morning or evening sweet spot?
With the help of Dr. Adam Collins from the University of Surrey, Trust Me I'm a Doctor recruited healthy volunteers to see how their bodies reacted to eating carbs in the morning versus the evening. The participants ate a fixed amount of carbs every day, from foods like vegetables, bread and pasta. They ate the majority of their carb allowance for breakfast during the first five days, then they went back to five days of normal eating. For the final five days, they switched to high-carb dinners.
The results debunked the morning theory: The volunteers' average blood glucose levels were lower when they ate more carbs in the evening. Dr. Collins offered an explanation for the surprising results, saying that the longer our bodies go without carbs, the better prepared they are to respond to them when we do chow down on some bread or pasta. Over time, our bodies get used to responding to heavy carb intake in the evening, which is why the results proved better for this eating routine.
The bottom line
While the results show that eating carbs in the evening may be better than in the morning, Dr. Collins advised focusing on consistency. Plus, it's always important to avoid overloading. If you ate a carb-heavy breakfast, go light on the spaghetti or potatoes at dinner - and vice versa.
Along with resisting the urge to overload on carbs, you can introduce the healthiest ones into your diet. According to Self magazine, there are some healthy carbs that even registered dietitians are happy for you to eat. These include potatoes, but try to keep the skin on for extra fiber. Whole grains like oatmeal, barley and air-popped popcorn are also smart carbs to snack on. Your fruit and veggie intake can also double as healthy carbs, such as bananas, melons, grapes, corn and peas. Top your salads and veggie roasts with chickpeas, lentil and black beans because they're loaded with carbs, fiber and protein.
While low-carb diets can be extremely beneficial for weight loss and maintenance, you don't have to deprive yourself of carbs forever. As long as you eat them in moderation, indulge away.