5 October 2019

Is it bad to eat carbs before bed?

Whilst trying to work your way through various pieces of well-meaning dieting advice you may have come across the idea that eating carbohydrates before bed is a bad idea – bad for your weight, bad for your digestion, bad for your health. But is it really bad to eat carbs before bed?

Let’s break it down…

First off, what is meant by ‘before bed’? Eating right before going to bed isn’t a great idea in any case, as ideally you should leave between one to two hours between eating and clocking off for the night. This gives your digestion a chance to get going and allows you to wind down to an optimal state of relaxation before flicking off the lights.

So, assuming you are having dinner, one to two hours before going to bed as advised of course, what are you going to eat?

Skipping dinner altogether is not advisable. For a start, your quality of sleep would suffer as you woke with stomach cramps at 2a.m. But, if carbs are out, that leaves protein and fat, perhaps some light fruit and vegetables. An ideal meal in many respects, but is there any good reason why you shouldn’t include some carbs if you want to? After all, you’ve been told to avoid carb-laden meals at lunchtime as the effect on many is sleep-inducing – so if you can’t have them in the middle of the day it makes sense to consider them an evening option.

Read also: Negative calorie food, here is all you need to know

More than what, it’s a question of how much…

You may have heard the expression, ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and sup like a pauper’. In practice, it’s excellent advice: a large breakfast sets you up well for the day ahead, ensuring concentration levels remain steady throughout the morning and avoiding over-dependence on caffeine to get you through to lunchtime. Eating a moderately-sized should carry you through on an even energy keel to the end of the working day, perhaps breaking for a healthy snack of fruit or nuts before leaving the office. But dinner should be small – that of the ‘pauper’ or poor person – as it follows that the night is when you need least to take in fewest calories, since the energetic demands on your body are at their lowest. (Unless you work night shifts, in which case you’ll need to turn this advice on its head!)

In essence, it’s fine to include some carbs in your evening meal. Just don’t overdo it!

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