Does Eating Carbs Late at Night Make You Fat?
Nope, eating carbs after 6pm, or at night, doesn’t do anything to make you fat.
The only way carbs make you fat is if you eat them in a calorie surplus.
But then, all the food you eat in a calorie surplus contributes to making you fat, not just carbs.
Another Way to Look at It
Apples are made up primarily carbohydrates.
If you were to eat NOTHING AT ALL every day, except to eat an apple at 11pm before going to bed, would you expect to gain weight?
Of course not!
But why not? Apples are carbs, and don’t carbs make you fat? Especially if eaten late at night?
OK, so Apples are “healthy” carbs.
So what if you were to eat one tablespoon of rice at 11pm before going to bed, with NOTHING ELSE all day. Do this for 2 weeks. Would you expect to be heavier or lighter at the end of those 2 weeks?
Of course, the answer is lighter. You know this is true. But why?
What if you increase this to 5 tablespoons of rice? You’re still not going to get fat if you’re eating nothing else. Why not? I want you to ask yourself this. Think on it. You will probably get to the obvious answer on your own.
OK, rice still kind of has some “goodness” in it, despite being a dreaded carb. It’s got some potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B-6.
What if we eat 5 tablespoons of white, refined sugar. Pretty much everyone will agree that there is nothing good about table sugar (and it’s 100% carbs – fast carbs too!)
Well, the answer is still the same. Even if you eat 5 tablespoons of white, refined sugar at 11pm before going to sleep, you WILL NOT GAIN ANY WEIGHT if you do not eat anything else.
So why does the timing of carbs not matter for weight loss or weight gain?
What did all these scenarios have in common?
People were hardly eating any food! The amounts of food depicted above are stupidly low, reckless and not enough for ANYONE to survive on!
I do not suggest anyone try to live on one apple a day, 5 tablespoons of rice, or 5 tablespoons of sugar.
Obviously these are just hyperbolic examples made up to illustrate my point. Whilst no-one doing this would gain weight, it’s not a healthy diet because it lacks a variety of nutrients and you’ll probably lose weight ridiculously fast and, if no-one intervenes, you will die.
It’s all about calories! (Again)
The reason no-one would gain weight, and in fact, everyone would lose weight drastically, is because these diets are ridiculously low in calories. 5 tablespoons of rice is about 80 calories. 5 tablespoons of sugar is about the same.
Carbs do not make you gain weight. Excess calories make you gain weight.
The amount of calories you need in a day to maintain your weight (called your TDEE or Maintenance Calories) is based on things like what your weight is, and your activity level.
There is no-one in the world who has a maintenance calorie level lower than 80 calories. Even a severely underweight 5 foot 0 woman (women tend to burn less calories than men) weighing 30kg (roughly 66 pounds) would still burn about 900 calories in a day without getting out of bed.
You are likely bigger and more active than this, and therefore have a TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) that is much higher.
As long as you’re taking in less energy (eating fewer calories) than your TDEE, you will lose weight.
This is regardless of the source of those calories, or the timing of them.
I eat carbs and I eat them at night. Sometimes I am losing weight deliberately, sometimes I am gaining weight deliberately. Whichever goal I happen to have, I can still eat carbs and I can still eat them at any time I want. What affects my weight is the amount of calories I am taking in, not the amount of carbs or when they’re eaten.
Life is much more enjoyable when you eat carbs.
Eat your carbs. You can even eat them after 6pm, at 11pm, or wake up in the middle of the night to eat them. It makes no difference if the total amount eaten is the same.
Track your calories. Make sure what you eat aligns with your goals.