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Ask the Experts: Will eating carbs at night make me fat?

Updated on:1 February 2021, 16:48pm IST
Carbs are NOT the enemy of weight loss. Rather, they play an important role in good health. Here, a nutritionist explains why you should eat them at night.
Ruchi Sharma
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There is no harm in noshing on carbs at night. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

People have a lot of questions, especially when it comes to nutrition. One of the most common ones is: Is consuming carbohydrates at night is harmful? Well, most people attribute their weight gain to carbohydrate-rich foods. Some even believe that when you eat carbohydrates at night, your body turns them into fats. However, our human bodily processes and metabolic activities do not function like this.

Carbs are not pure evil—and you can enjoy them even at night. Here’s how:

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Make carbs a part of a sustainable diet

If I take away roti, rice, and legumes out of a diet—there is little to no chance of someone following it in the long run. We have been eating carbohydrate-containing foods since childhood, so most food choices in Indian diet revolve around this macronutrient.

Carbs need to be a part of a balanced diet. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

And so the elimination of this food group would lead to reduced adherence to that specific diet and the person is more likely to spell back to his/her previous lifestyle. Not to mention, most carb sources are quite tasty too.

Eating carbs ensure good muscle mass and optimal cell health

Carbohydrate is the basic energy-yielding macronutrient that is needed for optimal cell performance. Glucose is the basic energy source drawn from carbohydrates that your brain and muscles need to function properly. Fats and protein are also necessary for optimal health, but carbohydrates (glucose) are the primary energy source.

benefits of carbohydrates
Your body needs carbohydrates for muscle mass. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If you want to gain muscle mass, then yes, you will have to incorporate enough protein in your diet along with a fair amount of carbohydrates as well, and that shouldn’t sound shocking or scary.

Speaking of muscle mass, building anything takes a lot of time, energy and resources and building muscles is no different. Our body requires a lot of energy to power through workouts and exercise plans that result in bigger, ripped and stronger muscles. Where does the body get most of that energy? Usually from proteins coupled with carbohydrates.

Carbs are also responsible for sleep-wake regulation

Everything we eat has an influence on all the body processes including the sleep-wake cycle. Having carbohydrates at night helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle through the production of serotonin. This whole process uses “tryptophan”, am essential amino acid along with carbohydrates in a specific manner to help manage your sleep cycle effectively.

tips for good sleep
Eating carbs at night can help you sleep better. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Consuming a tryptophan source with carbohydrate at night will help synthesize serotonin by helping tryptophan find its way to the brain and there, tryptophan is converted to serotonin. Serotonin further can be converted into melatonin and melatonin is what stimulates sleep by regulating the sleep-wake cycle and as all of us know, sleep is magical for a healthy hormone profile, skin and hair health and even fat loss (indirectly).

Carbs also help with stress management

Stress is the strongest, hidden enemy of human health. Carbohydrates play an important role when it comes to stress modulation, which would improve the quality of life and potentially reduce cravings and help induce better sleep.

Along with that, carbohydrates can also help support thyroid health which is responsible for hundreds of functions in the human body.

As a nutrition coach, I do not believe in eliminating any food sources from the diet of my clients and most of my clients also have their fair share of carbohydrates even at night if it’s preferred by them. Carbs enormously help with adherence to the nutrition plan and hence sustainability as our goal is not just to lose the fat, it is to lose it in a healthy way and keep it off for good!

Ruchi Sharma Ruchi Sharma

Ruchi Sharma is an Udaipur-based nutritionist and founder of EAT.FIT.REPEAT