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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Will eating carbs at night stall weight loss ?

    I've been told that I should not eat carbs at night while trying to loose weight ? Is this true. So much conflicting information.
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  • 1

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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris ... View Profile

    This is a very common question I often hear and get asked. The truth is that eating carbohydrates at night WILL NOT stall your weight loss attempts. Losing weight is much more complex than just focusing on one nutrient or food group. To lose weight you need to be in an energy/calorie deficit which means that your body will be burning up more fuel/energy than what it's taking in.

    You can do this by reducing your portion sizes, choosing lean cuts of meat, going for low-fat dairy products and including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your daily eating plan. Paying more attention to the timing of carbohydrates is another strategy you may like to employ.

    Carbohydrates are what fuels our muscles during exercise and is the sole fuel for the brain and red blood cells to function at their best. Keep in mind that the bare minimum amount of carbohydrates needed by the body is 130 grams per day. If you live a fairly active lifestyle, I would recommend consuming carbohydrates before and after exercise to help with recovery. If you don't exercise regularly you don't need to have as many carbohydrate-based foods in your diet.

    So if you regularly go to the gym or train in the afternoon/evening after work, you can afford to have a little carbohydrate-based food at dinner. Choose low GI, high fibre types of carbohydrates such as wholegrain pasta, rice, quinoa, sweet potato or noodles and keep the portion size to 1/4 of your plate.

    I hope this answers your question. If you would like further expert advice on how to lose weight the right way, consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). You can find an APD at the Dietitians Association of Australia's website (www.daa.asn.au) and click on the “find an APD” tab in the top right-hand corner of the website.


  • 2

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    Accredited Dietitian and Nutritionist specialising in food allergies, food intolerance and strategies for weight loss. I'm passionate about good nutrition and love working with clients ... View Profile

    Eating too much of any type of food late at night may stall weight loss, not just carbs. When it comes to carbs there is no real evidence to suggest eating them early in the day compared to late at night makes much of a difference to weight. By far the most important factor is the type of carbs you are eating. Examples of good types of carbs are wholegrain based breads and cereals, fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes. These types of carbs generally have both fiber and protein which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable which is an important factor.

    On the other hand most processed carbs, eg. white flour, white breads, cereals and confectionary with added sugar will contribute to weight gain no matter when you eat them.

    Hope that helps!

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    Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been ... View Profile

    I agree with David, too much of any food at night will stall weight loss. In regards to carbs at night, they can stall weight loss for certain individuals for the following reasons:

    1. The body burns fat best at rest, and the best rest we get is sleep. However a rise in blood sugar levels stimulates the release of insulin, switching the body from fat burning to glucose burning.
    2. An increase in blood sugar levels stimulates the body, and may prevent you from getting to sleep or impact the quality of sleep.  
    Everybody’s metabolism is different, and therefore carbohydrate reduction at night may work for you.

  • Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris ... View Profile

    I agree that too much of any food (no matter whether it be carbohydrate, protein or fat) will stall your weight loss attempts. But there is no need to eliminate carbohydrate based foods at night in fact a small amount may actually help you get to sleep.

    Whole-grains and dairy milk contain an amino acid called tryptophan, a pre-cursor to serotonin which is then converted to melatonin. Serotonin has been shown to help induce sleep and relaxation. On the other hand, low plasma levels of tryptophan may have a sleep distrubance effect. You may have heard that a glass of warm milk or a small bowel of cereal before bed can assist with helping people to get to sleep.

    The best advice I can give you is to speak to an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) or Accredited Sports Dietitian (AccSD) if you are looking for expert dietary advice. To find and APD head to www.daa.asn.au/for-the-public/find-an-apd/ or an AccSD at www.sportsdietitians.com.au/findasportsdietitian

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