It has been some time that the question of whether carbohydrates have to be consumed right before sleep has come up.
Carbohydrates are essential to carry energy for day-to-day activities and natural processes in the body such as breathing, digestion, assimilation, etc.
Fitness and nutrition experts have time and again stated the importance of consuming the right sources of carbohydrates.
However, consuming them just before sleeping? Ultimately it is an individual choice, but it helps to know how your preferences affect your health goals.
Is it Good to Eat Carbs Before Sleep?
Carbohydrates can be equated to sugar; your body needs a consistent sugar supply so that it can burn it off and provide energy.
The glycemic index is a measure of how fast and by how much the sugar level in the human blood rises. You apparently do not want to
eat bad carbs, having higher glycemic indices, which make you tired easily and make you want to eat more.
Why is avoiding carbs before bed suggested at the first place, especially for fitness freaks?
The basic idea is that taking carbs before sleep slows the metabolism down, giving the carbs consumed a greater probability of converting into fat.
Consuming them earlier in the day gives you a higher chance of burning them off for energy.
The logic is simple: You immediately lie down on the bed after eating say yummy processed foods rich in carbs, without any exercise.
You are not doing anything to burn those extra calories. Apparently, we are assuming you do not stay over active in the late nights.
So what’s the best time to consume the right carbs? Morning times, and before workouts.
Our human bodies are designed to be catabolic in the earlier parts of the day, meaning right in the mornings; the body needs good nutrition for energy release.
Taking carbohydrates before workouts is ideal because they help your body to regenerate the lost glycogen.
As the day progresses, the body gets slowly to the anabolic state, it needs more build up type foods that support the anabolic metabolism pathways, foods containing good fats, proteins. Taking carbohydrates later is not ideal to the natural metabolic rhythm of the body.
Whether your aim is getting ripped with lean muscle mass, or losing the extra fat stored in your body, it is ideal to avoid eating carbs before retiring to the bed. However, is there only one generic rule? Turns out that the situation depends from person to person.
Say, person A is a heavy weight lifter or an athlete, engaged in strenuous activities throughout the day, whereas person B does not workout so intensely.
Person B has an excess of carbohydrate stores in the body and consuming an excess, especially before bedtime is not needed.
Person A, on the other hand, requires the depleted glycogen to be replenished for optimal performance. It is analogous to a car; if your car is just sitting unused in the garage, there is no need to add fuel or gas.
Similarly, adding carbs will just not serve the purpose of weight control, it is as meaningless as adding fuel to an already filled tank. The overspill of carbs, in this case, leads to additional storage of fats.
The excess insulin levels hamper the process of muscle repair. It is suggested that in the later part of the day, a diet should comprise of lesser proportions of high glycemic index carbs.
Eating carbohydrates has a direct bearing on the blood sugar level. Controlling the level of blood sugar for diabetic patients is a must.
Instead of stacking on carbs before bed, a well-balanced diet is instrumental in controlling health problems. Especially for people above the age of 30, growth hormones and testosterone levels start declining.
For diabetic patients, it is recommended that foods that have lower glycemic indices must be chosen. When you eat foods with high glycemic indices such as cakes, chocolates, processed foods, white bread, etc. the blood sugar level spikes up in a rapid manner.
Also, the body is not welcome the rise of insulin levels, the secretion of growth hormones is obstructed.
When insulin is increased alone, hypoglycaemia may be caused. Taking slow digesting protein rich foods such as casein protein is recommended at nights.
What to eat before bed time?
Should you not eat anything before bed?
Not at all.
Many people seem to complain of insomnia, eating carbohydrates, especially those get absorbed fast, definitely does not solve sleep related issues.
You need not starve yourself before dozing off to slumber, consuming the right foods is important for you to stay in good health.
After all the don’ts, here’s a list of foods that you actually can consume before sleeping, without running the risk of attracting chronic illnesses. (1)
Food #1: Feed Your body with a high-quality protein source, Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese contains casein protein, slow absorbing protein that takes hours to be assimilated in the stomach. Glucagon is released in the body.
A single serving of cottage cheese takes around 5-6 hours to digest completely. Muscle breakdown is prevented because casein plays a crucial role in protein synthesis when you are in sleep.
When you wake up in the morning, the catabolic mechanism of the body breaks down muscle. Consuming a good quality protein like cottage cheese ensures that the amino acid levels in the body are high. Adding one tbsp of peanut butter helps to control hunger for a longer duration of time.
Food #2: Avoid late night cravings with Green Vegetables: For weight conscious people, this is an excellent food just before retiring to bed. They practically have zero calories and are rich in fiber. It is always great to go to deep sleep feeling full and hunger free. Fiber serves the purpose, without adding any extra calories to your diet plan.
Food #3: Protein shakes with few carbs: Dessert before sleep! Don’t you just love the idea of hogging on desserts after a heavy dinner?
How about doing it in a healthy manner? These days, fitness and nutrition enthusiasts experiment a lot with their quick absorbing whey protein shakes.
Adding berries, for instance, takes care of your daily fiber requirement, you can also add almond butter to get some healthy fats, without compromising on the taste. A blend of whey protein and slow digesting proteins is an ideal combination before sleep.
Everything said, combining low GI carbs with protein before bedtime is a good idea. For instance, plain oatmeal along with a tbsp of peanut butter is a healthy snack.
Make sure you go for complex carbohydrates, though, adding simple carbohydrates like sugar will only worsen the problems.
You can consume low-fat milk, yoghurt, or fruit like Banana.
Banana will help those who complain about a lack of healthy sleep. It contains Potassium and tryptophan, a chemical that will induce you into deep and calm slumber.
For a good night sleep, avoid foods that are difficult to digest, e.g., spicy foods and citrus fruits.
Many different factors have to be considered to zero in on the right diet before sleep.
To put it simple, a low carbohydrate diet with a considerable proportion of healthy fats and fiber is highly recommended.
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