Is it bad to eat carbohydrates before bed?

Is it bad to eat carbohydrates before bed?

One of the most common beliefs is that ingesting carbohydrates in the evening before going to sleep is very wrong and extremely harmful to health. But are we so sure that eating a cookie at midnight is very different from enjoying it during the day?

Here are the pros and cons of eating carbohydrates in the evening to know for clarity.

Fast and slow carbohydrates

The first thing to know is that not all carbohydrates are the same , but there are two types, each of which is absorbed in a different way, and generates different effects on the body.

Fast carbs lack fiber and include sugary foods like soda, candy, and white bread . Their characteristic is that they are digested quickly, but leave hungry soon afterwards.

Slow carbohydrates , such as beans , quinoa or sweet potatoes , are instead rich in fiber and provide energy slowly and steadily, keeping you fuller for longer and avoiding sudden changes in energy.

It is often believed that the more carbohydrates you eat, the more energy you store and since the body requires less of it during the night, it seems obvious to assume that the sugars we ingest by eating carbohydrates late in the evening are more likely to be stored than burned.

Don’t overdo it

However, this is not always said because the calories in a slice of cake are the same at whatever time you decide to eat it . What makes the difference , however, more than the watch, is the quantity .

In the evening or during the night, in fact, we often tend to go astray more than in the rest of the day and indulge in larger portions, especially if we haven’t eaten much during the day and arrive particularly hungry at a certain time. This condition promotes unhealthy snacking binges , which you can avoid by eating regularly and including high-quality carbohydrates with your meals so that sugar cravings do n’t become overwhelming in the evening .

When you decide to eat it can happen that you never feel full, that’s why .

Effects of nocturnal carbohydrate intake

While there’s no question that the quantity and quality of carbohydrates you choose impact your health, there is less clarity as to whether ingesting them at one time of day is better than another.

In fact, each person tolerates carbohydrates differently , some feel better by consuming more in the morning, others obtain more satisfactory results by dividing them into small portions throughout the day and still others prefer to consume them at night. The real difference could instead be the ultimate goal.

In general, there are pros and cons to eating before bed or not.

Weight loss

According to several studies, it is more likely to be able to lose weight if you prefer a high-carb breakfast and a low-carb dinner  rather than the other way around.

Furthermore, carbohydrate intake early in the day would improve cardio -metabolic results compared to nighttime intake.

Sleep quality

Exaggerating with refined carbohydrates at any time of the day can compromise the quality of sleep and in particular, according to a study published in February 2020 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, a large intake of added sugars would negatively affect that of women.

To disturb sleep if you exceed with sugars before going to bed can also be the consequent digestive problems .

However, this does not mean having to completely eliminate carbohydrates in the evening, since healthy ones can, on the contrary, be useful for increasing the production of serotonin , a precursor of melatonin , and reducing cortisol , the stress hormone .

Not to mention that a small, healthy snack before bedtime can help you feel full and not wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Also in this case, therefore, the rule of not exaggerating applies.

The high temperatures of the warmer months also affect the quality of sleep. Here’s how to sleep better in the summer .

Sleeping little can lead to various unpleasant consequences for the body.

Athletic performance

For those who routinely do resistance training , the timing of carbohydrate consumption is of paramount importance . Without an adequate amount consumed at regular intervals, glycogen stores can become depleted and athletic performance suffer.

For this reason, athletes, in agreement with their nutritionist and depending on the type of training they are engaged in, may need more carbohydrates before, during and after a session, in order to maintain optimal levels, replenish energy reserves and avoid early fatigue. So, if you train intensely in the evening, consuming carbohydrates before bed can be essential.

What are the best carbohydrates to eat at night

For all these reasons, it is therefore wrong to argue that eating carbohydrates before bed is always bad. On the other hand, it is essential not to overdo harmful foods but to focus on quality carbohydrates, in order to avoid digestion problems and weight gain .

The ideal is to choose them in combination with lean proteins or healthy fats , in order to provide constant energy to the body during the night.

Here are some examples of healthy nighttime snacks:

  • single portion of crackers with a little cheese ,
  • a plain yogurt with fresh fruit and a sprinkling of muesli ,
  • some nuts ,
  • a slice of wholemeal toast with a spoonful of jam and half a banana .


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