‘Eat carbs after 6pm and you’ll gain weight!’ Or maybe you heard it was 3pm — or 8pm? Is there, in fact, a ‘witching hour’ for carbs?
For many years fat was the enemy, but these days it seems carbohydrates have ‘taken the cake’ as the villain in Aussies’ battle with the bulge. It’s true that many of us could cut back on highly refined carbs like cakes, burgers and biscuits, but what about pasta or potatoes at dinnertime?
Several studies have looked at the effect that carbohydrates have on weight gain. The key message that emerges from all this research is that everyone’s outcome is different when they eat carbs at night. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ rule about what time of day is best to eat.
There is, nevertheless, some merit in considering eating less food at night — be that carbs or any other type of food. Fuelling nightly marathon TV watching and couch-sitting sessions with biscuits and sweets is a recipe for weight gain, especially if you’re sitting for much of the day, too.
The truth is carbs can’t tell the time, so it in fact makes little difference when you eat them. What does make a difference is the types of carbs you choose. ‘Good carbs’ are foods that haven’t undergone a lot of processing, and are a valuable source of fibre. Fresh and dried fruits, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts, and whole grains tick these boxes. Potatoes with the skin on, brown rice and wholemeal pasta are also smart carb choices.
There’s nothing inherently fattening about carbs. It’s overeating too many kilojoules, plus unhealthy food choices, that can cause weight gain — and this can happen at morning, noon and night!
To read more, pick up the June issue of Healthy Food Guide magazine – on sale now!