We get requests all the time from people who don’t know the rule of thumb and are surprised that carbohydrates (and sometimes even in the form of wheat!) appear in our recipes because they’ve heard that you can’t lose weight at all if you eat these bad, bad foods! Can you lose weight even if you continue to eat carbohydrates?
Let’s clear up this mystery here
We should correctly speak of “starchy and sugary carbohydrates” because it is always only about the carbohydrates that lead to an insulin reaction in the body. This includes foods that contain a lot of starch, i.e., most cereals and thus bread, pasta, rice, and corn and other foods that naturally have a lot of sugar such as fruit and fruit juices and certain vegetables, e.g., peas.
And there are also foods that no one thinks of when they talk about carbohydrates. Or who would have spontaneously thought of yogurt? But, as in many milk products, “lactose” is contained in it. And yes, it leads to an insulin reaction.
Suppose there is a lot of starch in a meal. In that case, the starch is immediately converted into sugar in the body. Contained sugar goes after a short conversion directly into the blood and increases the blood sugar (it is not called so for nothing). So that this sugar can now be transported from the blood into the cells, insulin is secreted. The insulin serves as a signal so that the cells, e.g., in the muscles, absorb the sugar.
If (a lot of) insulin is secreted after a meal, this has several effects:
So basically, it’s not “the carbohydrates” that are the evil, but the insulin – or at least when you can’t consume that much sugar/starch (e.g., through sufficient exercise). It is therefore increasingly converted into fat. Therefore, the question should be: What does your body do with the carbohydrates, and how do your cells react to them? By producing more fat in the liver or filling up your muscle stores and supplying you with energy? Because that’s the bottom line. And not how many carbohydrates are in a meal.
The least amount of insulin is released, and the least amount can be converted into fat if you leave out starchy carbohydrates, dairy products, and sugar entirely. This also works wonderfully for many – at least for a while. But it is tough to keep up, makes everyday social life difficult (especially if you are invited or have a birthday coming up), and is also a bit “unsatisfying.”
In addition, long-term “low carb” also seems to affect the thyroid gland in sensitive individuals, causing fewer thyroid hormones to be produced, which shuts down the metabolism and makes losing weight more difficult. On top of that, a lousy body with “low carb” builds its sugar – from the protein you’ve eaten. If you measure the blood sugar of such a person 1 hour after a meal without carbohydrates, it is the same high as after a meal with carbohydrates. The big difference is that the body has now also released stress hormones – and increased stress hormones lead to more belly fat. So if you have been eating “low carb” for a long time or have skipped carbohydrates in the evening, this worked initially, but at some point, your belly got more significant, your weight increased, and your energy decreased, which could be the reason.
It’s probably the most widespread dogma in the fitness world: “If you want to lose weight, you can’t eat carbs after 6 pm!”. But, with everything you know about calorie balance and macronutrients now, do you believe that anymore? I don’t think so. Who invented this time of day? Why isn’t it 5:55 pm or 6:20 pm? And what about people who work at night and sleep all day.
First of all, carbohydrates mean quickly available energy for the body. Depending on how complex a carbohydrate is, the body breaks it down faster or slower into simple sugars (glucose). The body stores this sugar in the liver and skeletal muscles (in glycogen stores). However, excess sugar can also be converted to body fat when the stores are full. For example, most of the energy we use in exercise comes from the glycogen stores in skeletal muscle. Carbohydrates, therefore, make us physically and mentally efficient.
Based on theory, it can now be hypothesized that excessive carbohydrate consumption in the evening hours could be detrimental. This is because very few people are still physically or mentally very active. A study has made precisely this question to the topic and examined. Two groups of test persons were considered. Both groups were instructed to follow a calorie-reduced diet. While one group ate a considerable portion of the total carbohydrates only late in the evening, the control group divided the carbohydrates over the entire day. After half a year, both groups had lost about the same amount of weight. So it made absolutely no difference at what time of day carbohydrates were consumed, as long as the calorie intake was identical.
So does it matter when you eat carbohydrates? Not quite! Athletically active people use carbohydrates quite consciously to optimize performance. After all, the amount that can be consumed is limited. At least if you don’t want to slip into a caloric surplus. To this end, carbohydrates are readily consumed before and after training. On the one hand, to provide the muscles with energy for the upcoming workout. On the other hand, to replenish the partially depleted glycogen stores. However, the time of day does not matter. If training is done early in the morning, the most significant proportion of daily carbohydrates is also consumed. If training is done late in the evening, the consumption of carbohydrates also shifts to the evening or even the night.
What you can take away
Your weight loss success does not depend on how many carbohydrates or when you eat carbohydrates. Calorie balance remains the deciding factor. Of course, you can go on a low-carb or low-fat diet. As long as the energy intake is proper, it will work. However, a massive renunciation also brings significant restrictions with it. The best diet is the one that you can follow until old age. And that without having the feeling that you have to do without something.
Many claims that carbohydrates in the evening cause fat to build up. The following arguments are usually used to explain this:
The body does not need as much energy in the evening because there is no more physical exertion. As a result, it shuts down the metabolism, and the energy from a meal containing carbohydrates can no longer be used by the body, which is why it is immediately stored in fatty tissue.
The body does not utilize carbohydrates as effectively in the evening because insulin sensitivity is not as high as daily.
Before explaining why these statements are not entirely factual, consider the following experiment, which already disproves that carbohydrates make you “fat” in the evening:
One group eats a protein-rich meal without carbohydrates (for example, just a steak) in the evening. The other group eats the same meal but a side dish containing carbohydrates, such as potatoes. The group that eats the meal with carbohydrates will gain weight, but only if they have eaten more calories per day with the carbohydrate side dish than the other group.
However, suppose the experiment is modified so that both groups eat the same thing and differ only because one group eats the carbohydrate side dish in the morning and the other in the evening. In that case, there will be no differences in terms of weight change because the calorie balance is the same.
Carbohydrates are the macronutrient par excellence, in which, in the view of many people, timing plays a decisive role when it comes to losing weight. Thus, according to many, carbohydrates should only be consumed daily, preferably in the morning. For the body, however, it does not matter whether carbohydrate-rich food is eaten in the morning, at noon, or in the evening. In the end, calorie balance is the decisive criterion for whether the body will build up or break down fat.
Carbohydrates in the evening even have a positive effect. Their fatiguing effect  makes it easier to fall asleep. In addition, after a carbohydrate-rich meal, the production of the essential amino acid tryptophan is stimulated, which positively influences sleep quality.
Our long experience says no. If you put your meals together correctly, it is not necessary to eliminate all starchy carbohydrates and sugar. The important thing is to make the meal feel fuller faster – and there are things you can do to make that happen!
If the natural satiety occurs more quickly, the portions will gradually become smaller all by themselves (and thus, less insulin is released…). This is achieved by eating carbohydrates in the proper ratio to the protein. We work with the simple formula: approx. one fist size of starchy carbohydrates and approx. one palm size of protein, i.e., meat, fish, tofu, etc.. Then, add to that at least two fist sizes of vegetables. At the same time, the protein helps slow the blood sugar rise caused by the carbs, reducing the amount of insulin.
But there is a second rumor why you should supposedly leave out carbohydrates: the evil, evil gluten.
Gluten is a component of almost all grains. So it’s in wheat, spelt, rye, etc., but not in corn, potatoes, quinoa, or rice, for example. If you are sensitive to it, gluten can damage the intestines and cause inflammation. This inflammation increases insulin resistance, preventing weight loss (or making it much more difficult).
But this only applies if you can’t tolerate gluten, i.e., if you have an intolerance or allergy (or even celiac disease)! With all others, no inflammation develops, and the inflammation creates problems. So there is no reason at all why gluten should be left out.
Indeed, gluten intolerance is, unfortunately, becoming more and more common. According to some experts, that’s because of what grains are grown today and how they’re processed. And of course also because of how incredibly much we eat of it. In everyday life, most wheat often occurs several times: in the morning as bread, at noon the Döner, the Pizza or the piece of bread to the salad, in the afternoon one or two cookies and the evening, e.g., noodles. So that would be four times a day.
A few tips!
For the vast majority of people, it is pretty sufficient to implement one or more of the following points to increase their tolerance of gluten-containing grains:
If you have eaten the wrong carbs in the past and, as a result, have weight that you want to lose now … one way to do that is to go on a diet that focuses on your hormones – specifically insulin and three other hormones that have been shown to play a vital role in weight gain and weight loss.
Conclusion: If a meal is composed correctly (e.g., according to the fist formula), there is no need to avoid starchy carbohydrates. This is much easier to keep up for many, and you can eat “more normal” meals (also sometimes a piece of bread to the salad or a few noodles) and do not have to give up so much.
You can learn much more about this groundbreaking approach to weight loss by visiting this link today.