Could carbs before bed actually help you burn more fat??
I am sure you have heard carbs at night are bad because they will turn into fat because our metabolism slows at night while we are sleeping, this just isn’t true! Exercise increases sleeping metabolic rate significantly, leading to greater fat oxidation during sleep. Unless you are obese, not only does your metabolism not slow down during sleep, it actually increases!
Benefits of carbs at night:
Greater Relaxation/Better Mood.
Research shows that food can directly influence your brain neurotransmitter systems, which dramatically effect mood. One neurotransmitter in particular that influences how you feel is serotonin. Serotonin is best known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter, improving mood and providing a sense of calm. When serotonin is elevated at night it enables restful sleep. It just so happens that eating carbs is necessary for the body to synthesize serotonin. In the case of serotonin, when it is elevated in the morning or during the day, it can make people feel sleepy, calm, or even lethargic. Combine these effects with how higher carb foods can influence insulin and blood sugar, and many people find themselves unmotivated, sluggish, or foggy. A solution is to favor higher protein foods in the morning and during the day because they provide amino acids that activate a cluster of energizing brain neurons called the hypocretin network. Then, enjoy higher carb foods at dinner or as a bedtime snack to help raise serotonin for a relaxing evening.
There’s a second way that having carbs at night can help you sleep. In addition to raising serotonin, carbs help lower the stress hormone cortisol, which can inhibit sleep when it is elevated at night. A full stomach before bed= stable blood sugars = better sleeping = healthier life. Sleep affects your immunity, energy level, appetite, metabolism, cravings and your weight. The better you’re sleeping at night, the better you’ll feel all day. Do yourself a favor and eat that healthy carbohydrate before bed so that your body can get the supportive rest it needs to keep you going all day long.
Eating carbs can help reduce cortisol because they trigger a prolonged release of the hormone insulin, which is an antagonist to cortisol. High cortisol is one reason a lot of people crave high-carb “comfort” foods since their body is looking for a way to combat the physiological stress response and lower cortisol.
Greater Metabolic Flexibility.
Our bodies work best when they are metabolically flexible that is, able to readily switch back and forth between burning carbs and fat. Metabolic flexibility is the ideal state because it allows you to avoid low energy levels if you haven’t just eaten.
Having a higher protein breakfast and saving carbs for later in the day is the perfect solution: It means your body will maintain (or restore) it’s metabolic flexibility and be more likely to burn fat throughout the day. Your cells’ insulin sensitivity also improves so that when you do eat carbs, they will not be stored as fat but will be burned for energy or used to replenish glycogen in the muscles and liver.
Many people find they have more energy and better focus by favoring high-protein foods in the morning and getting their carbs at night. The nighttime carb intake appears to be key, people on low-carb diets often report trouble sleeping and may find themselves with chronically depleted muscle glycogen stores if they exercise regularly.
During activity, your muscles run on carbs that are stored within the muscle (called glycogen). Having carbs post-workout like 1stphorm post workout stack and in the evening is going to be much more effective for filling those glycogen stores so you are ready to go in the morning since glycogen storage takes time. This is why the most important meal to set you up for a workout is going to be the one you have the night before.
So Which carbs should you eat at night?
Whole food, complex carbs such as starchy vegetables, fruit, beans, and boiled grains are good choices that will provide high-quality nutrition. Best results generally come from staying away from refined and processed carbs everything from bread to crackers, cookies, ice cream, and so forth.
The ultimate take away is that it’s important to experiment. Don’t just follow the pack and always load up on carbs for breakfast if it’s not working for you. Clearly, everyone responds differently to carbs, protein, and mixed meals based on everything from age and gender to metabolic health, dietary history, activity levels, cognitive requirement, and stress.
As always please email me with any questions you may have or comment here on the blog.