Is Carbohydrates a Dirty Word?

We’ve all heard the same thing whether it be from the media, family, friends whoever “Don’t eat carbs after 6pm”. Even as a Trainer I get told all the time.

It is such a common term especially in the fitness, nutrition and dieting industry, it’s pretty much common knowledge that after 6pm, you simply should not eat carbs.

Any carbs you eat after 6 will be stored straight away as body fat.

The belief is that because carbs are your body’s first energy source, and you don’t use any energy when you’re asleep, you simply don’t need carbs before bed.

Now all the magazines, personal trainers, nutrition gurus and diet books books tell us that “To eat carbs at our own risk”

That seemingly sound, sensible and safe advice, is complete and utter bullshit!

Everything you’ve ever heard or read about eating carbs late being bad is incorrect. Not only is it wrong, it could actually be slowing down your results.

How can something that’s so well documented, and oft-advised throughout the fitness and fat loss industry, is completely wrong?

Uneducated morons is the reason! There is absolutely no reason to avoid eating carbs after 6pm (or at any other time of the day) and actually, missing out on your pre-bedtime carbs could seriously slowing your progress down.

Myth Busted!

Firstly, lets get down to business in regards to the supposed reasoning for avoiding carbs at night time, then we’ll talk about the science, and how it shows there to be no link whatsoever between eating carbs late and slowing/stopping fat loss or promoting fat gain, as the “ultimate” body transformation experts warn!

As we discussed, earlier, carbs are your body’s first source of energy.

We are by no means arguing this! As it is definitely TRUE, so no laughing at the “nutritional experts” yet.

By the way guys, the human body can utilise fat as it’s primary energy source when on a very low-carb ketogenic diet, and protein can be used in times of starvation, but your body definitely prefers running off carbs. Especially when it come to insulin sensitivity. (But that’s another story)

The body’s carb metabolism, does not work on a start/stop basis. it doesn’t, as soon as you hit the sheets, think “alright sweet, I’m done for the day, I don’t need to burn any calories or expend any energy now, so I don’t need carbs, i’ll just store them all as excess body fat.”dv0301032


It just doesn’t work like that, even when we are completely asleep our body is still working it’s like when you start a car before you drive it and it just sits their idling. That’s what our body’s are like. The energy required for this (homeostasis) is called your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR.

Whether you’re mainly burning carbs or fats it works on a continuum. So you body doesn’t just burn one or the other, you are almost always burning both, just in different ratios.

Now it starts to get really interesting! If you burn more fat at a particular time during the day, you’ll also burn more carbs at another time, this also applies the opposite way too.

For example if you eat most of your carbs in the morning, then you’ll burn a higher proportion of carbs then, and more fat later in the day. Which is just the same as if you save your carbs for after 6, you will burn a lot of carbohydrates as well as a little bit fat after eating them. You will definitely get a lot of fat burning overnight, and not so much carb burning in the mornings.

So over the course of a 24-hour period, it works out to be exactly the same.

Make sense?

The takeaway point to remember here, is that if you are eating, say, lets say 100 grams of carbs in a day, you are also going to burn the same amount of carbohydrates and the same amount of fats whether you eat the whole lot at 10pm, at 7:30am or if you space them out evenly throughout the day.

What if I Told You How to Burn Fat in Your Sleep?

This isn’t some radical new fad diet, or a link to some new highly marketed BS supplement – you really do burn calories whilst you sleep. You don’t burn many, but you burn roughly 50-70 per hour.

And that makes sense.

If you know what your BMR is, it is generally (depending on your body shape) be a fairly high number.

A quick way to calculate your BMR is to multiply your bodyweight in kg by 22.04

For example a man weighing 100 kilos, would have a BMR of around 2,204. That equates to a calorie burn of around 92 per hour.

So the theory that you’re body doesn’t burn calories whilst you are sleeping is like I said at the start 100% BS!

Post-Workout Carbs… 

no-carbs-afterHere’s one that makes me giggle.

Traditional fat loss advice suggests to eat carbs post-workout, when your body is in an extremely insulin sensitive position (it’s primed to use them for recovery and glycogen replenishment) after a brutal session.

What if you train a couple of hours before bed…?

What should you do..?

Eat carbs after your workout? Or have no carbs after 6?

Talk about a conflicting information!

Science > Bro-Science

We’ve pretty much well and truly busted the myth that carbs after dark are “bad.”

But what about evidence that actually supports eating more carbs after 6?

Studies have shown that eating a High-GI carb meal before bed shortens the time it takes to fall asleep. You guys should all know that more (good quality) sleep means better recovery, increased energy, and more productive training sessions.

I don’t know about you guys but that sounds like a massive positive to me!

Further studies showed that you can lose more weight eating the majority of your carbs later in the day.

Overcome Your Cravings

What’s the one thing that 99.9% of us crave before bed?

That’s right ….. carbs.

So, you might get the odd weirdo who is fine to just crash on the couch with a bowl of cashews, or some turkey mince, but most of us “normal” people are feeling for some chocolate, cookies, cake and my personal favourite ice cream!

good-carbs-vs-bad-carbsI’m a massive believer in enjoying your food, as it helps you to stick to your nutrition plan, so if factoring in carbs before bed into your nutrition plan makes your diet easier to follow, then do it.

On top of that, pre-bed carbs can also help you early morning workout warriors, as you will be fuelled up when you get up.

Take Away Points:

1) Enjoy Your Carbs… And Enjoy them After Dark

2) “What if I don’t like carbs before bed?” No worries, you don’t have to have them.

3) There really is reasoning for not eating carbs after 6pm, 7pm, within 2 hours of sleep or whatever crazy BS you’ve heard.

4) Fat-loss happens when you’re in a calorie deficit. As well as eating a macronutrient balanced diet, it doesn’t just stop when you eat your carbs.

5) But if you do like a sneaky dose of carbs before getting some shut eye, then go for it. Relax in the knowledge that they are not screwing up your progress, they could actually be speeding it up.


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