The 3 Worst Times Of Day To Eat Carbs If You Want To Maximize Your Energy
While there's never a wrong time to eat carbohydrates, if you're looking to keep your energy levels up, there are moments during the day when carbs can come in handy, as well as moments when they aren't much help at all. "The best times to eat carbohydrates is first thing in the morning because you will have the whole day to use up that energy," dietitian Shana Spence, MS, RDN, CDN tells Bustle. "Carbohydrates do turn into sugar but the more complex ones will be delayed in doing so."
Unlike simple carbs, complex carbs don't cause your blood sugar to skyrocket — which can leave you feeling sluggish once it crashes back down again — but instead provide long-lasting energy, as well as important nutrients, Spence says.
That's why, aside from the timing, it's all about the types of carbs you eat when you're interested in feeling energized. "Making sure you are picking carbohydrates that are also providing fiber is important," Spence says. "Try to opt for whole grains such as quinoa, barley, farro, and of course fruits and vegetables."
These will pick you right up and keep you going, so you can bask in in hours of energy. While the morning may be a good time to eat carbs, here are the three worst times of the day to have them if you want maximum energy benefits, according to experts.
1. After A Work Out
One of the worst times to eat carbs is after a work out, as opposed to before, because you'll be missing out on all that sweet, sweet energy.
"Although it is true you should eat carbohydrates post-workout to replenish glycogen, only a small amount is necessary, such as 15-20g," Alysa Boan, NASM certified personal trainer at FitnessTrainer.com and RealFitnessMaven, tells Bustle. "However, pre-workout you should be consuming closer to 25-35g of carbohydrates for energy to get through the workout."
In terms of sustained energy, this is why many runners load up on pasta before a big race. But even for smaller workouts, eating a few complex carbs beforehand can provide the energy you need.
2. At Dinner
By the end of the day, it's not really necessary to boost your energy levels as much as you might want to in the morning, or before a workout.
"By the end of the day we have minimal use for energy stores and therefore do not need to fuel with carbohydrates," Boan says. While you can eat carbs at dinner if you'd like, they can provide a little too much energy, as you start to get ready for bed.
Lean proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables are a great choice for dinner, Boan says, as they can help your body wind down naturally.
3. Right Before Bed
Another time when carbs aren't as necessary? Right before bed. "Since carbohydrates turn into sugar, your body doesn’t need to get an extra boost of energy while trying to relax and go to bed," Spence says. If you have a late night snack that's mostly carbs, especially if they're simple carbs that spike your blood sugar, you may even notice you have a tough time sleeping.
Carbohydrates are great at providing lasting energy, which is why it can be helpful to eat them before a workout, or in the morning as you get ready to take on the day. But that's also why eating carbs at dinner, or right before bed, isn't always the best idea. In order to use carbs to your advantage, and have sustained energy throughout the day, timing can be everything.