Not eating carbs at night and other misconceptions we fall for.

  • Perhaps you've heard this before that you should not eat carbs at night, like after 6 pm or something like that. But, I'm here to tell you that is pure hogwash! :)

    Our bodies do not create change on that much of a micro level. The only thing it might do is affect water retention since several water molecules attach to a single molecule in carbohydrates, and you might step on the scale in the morning and go "oh no! I gained weight" But the reality is we didn't gain weight. We are just holding onto some water which makes our body heavier. As a side note, let me reinforce that point, the scale WILL lie to you. It does not tell the whole story. The best rule of thumb is to weigh yourself only once or tops twice a week at the same time of day and under the same conditions. Another better practice is to use circumference measurements which tell you how your body is changing in size, not just weight. Also, considering muscle has weight to it, if you are gaining muscle and losing fat, you may not actually see much change in the scale, but your body could be transforming dramatically. I know several former BFL champions personally and they will all confirm this was true for them.

    Making sure to have carbs in your evening eating ensures that your body will have energy in the morning to get going. I can't imagine getting up the next morning and doing a HIIT  in a fasted state without having any carbs for over 12 hours!  The only time when watching the timing of carbs and water would be in your final week to couple of days before taking photos. This helps your body "dry out". But that also only really applies to people who have a low percentage of body fat where the tiniest amount of water retention would hide those abs. For the person who is 15% bf or more, no amount of carb manipulation is going to make us look more ripped for final photos.

    Our bodies create change based upon the intake of macronutrients (protein/carbs/fat) over time. In a nutshell it doesn't matter as much what you eat in a small period of time, but over a period of several days. This is why it is good to keep a food journal and I recommend using an app like Lose It, Fit Day, My Fitness Pal, Livestrong, etc. that lets you see macronutrient numbers in real time. You can see what you've been eating over time.

    So, please be encouraged. Eat a diet that balances out over time, and don't sweat the small stuff. Keep a food journal and you'll be able to make adjustments accordingly so that your body is getting the right amount of macronutrients over time.

  • You are right about eating GOOD carbs at night Andy.  But despite your experience, it is never a good idea to eat corn chips, or a pita with melted cheese unless it's free day.  I understand you are trying to make a point, but the danger is that someone who is struggling reads that and decides they too can have a few chips and some cheese at night.  That would be a bad idea with predictable results.  A healthy carb in each meal, including the last meal, is great.  But they need to be healthy carbs.  Save the chips and cheese for free day!

    Best of luck!

  • See, that's where we might disagree. Outside of fast food, within moderation and as long as it fits within my daily macros, I don't see any particular food as "good" or "bad". Maybe for the absolute beginner they need that kind of black and white differentiation to help them get used to eating better foods without triggering bad habits, but as a lifestyle, I don't see a problem with eating corn chips or a pita or some cheese or butter or bacon, etc.

    I live in the middle of ranching country so we get locally-raised beef alot and it's probably about 75-80% lean, along with free-range chickens and sliced pork, etc. There was a time I would have considered anything less than 90% way too fatty! I've been eating higher fat meats frequently and have lost 30 lbs so far and kept it off for a year and a half. But, since I track these foods with an app I just count those fats toward my daily macros.

    For me, if I had grasped this idea to not hate certain foods or label them as bad, I might have actually had a more successful time, rather than being ultra "clean" eating  and then having major cravings, running to the Taco Bell and ordering half the menu. Like I said, as long as the macros within that food will fit within your total daily needs, there really isn't a problem. Now, that's not to say you eat a candy bar or ice cream, etc. because it would fit. We do have to use some common sense with regards to which kind of carbs and fats they are (simple or complex, saturated or unsaturated)

    But yes,  perhaps  a "better" choice would have been a potato or oatmeal or a salad, etc. :) I don't eat pita's and chips every night though. Just last night I needed the pick me up mentally and energy wise and those were viable options to meet that goal.

  • This kind of labeling of good foods and bad foods in dangerous. Some people swear off milk or fruit because it has "sugars" in it, and yet those are some of the most natural and best things for you and those sugars are naturally occurring, not added in during processing. Probably not for every meal, but a couple of times a day goes a long way for keeping a person from crashing and not making this a lifestyle.  That kind of behavior is also what causes many people after completing their "perfect" challenge to gain much of the weight back once they start eating less clean. Or, because they can't ever seem to accomplish  "perfect" challenge, they beat themselves up and get into a vicious cycle of starting and stopping all the time. I know firsthand, I did that for years. Also, I know many people who do manage to muster the discipline and eat that clean but they are often miserable, moody and generally unhappy. It negatively affects the relationships they have with their families. We have to strive for balance and sensibility.

  • I'm glad that works for you Andy, and with where you're at right now (having lost 30 pounds and being happy where you are) I understand that.  But many, and probably the majority on this board are new, struggling, and often times just waiting for anyone to tell them it's O.K. to eat a little unauthorized food.  And when they do, they become part of the many many people on this board lamenting the poor results they're getting.  Almost without fail the complaint about not seeing results is followed by the explanation of the cheats in their diet.  Bill Phillips was crystal clear about eating.  Eat clean other than free day if you want to maximize your success.  I was simply pointing out that eating clean per the book never includes corn chips and cheese other than free day.

  • :) I think we're in agreement on that. Following BFL "by the book" will no doubt work if one can be totally disciplined about it, but just speaking from experience and what has worked for me and to hopefully give some hope that the occasional "unapproved", but otherwise decent food, isn't going to completely ruin their diet or progress so long as it is WITHIN their macro nutrient limits for the day.

    And is why it is so important to keep a detailed food journal.

  • BFLAndy:

    You are mixing points here.  It's not best to encourage anyone to eat unauthorized and it's lack thinking to justify it as so long as you're within your macro nutrients for the day.  Are you totally wrong?  No.  What I mean by lack is not that you are intellectually lacking, but that you are then thinking about what you can't have, with regard to options, although that's not your point, or what you can have, with regard to within your macro nutrients.  What you missed is what you should have for the best care and maintenance of you and if eating unauthorized foods, you might be within your macro nutrients, but then you are then missing something you should have had.  You need proper fuel, so just being within your macro nutrient limit isn't good enough if it's not good choices.  Also, Bill Phillips has been asked about "banking" calories, like 1500, and using throughout the week instead of a free day.  He has consistently maintained that's not aligned with how his program works and to not do it., so you're essentially suggesting what he's said isn't best.  

    Also... fats are an entirely different topic.  It makes sense you've been having high fat meats and still losing weight.  Our knowledge of that topic has drastically changed over the last 10 years.  That being said, at least on BFL, while still getting to goal, naturally lean cuts are best.  Things that say "low fat" or "no fat" are not.  When you see those terms, just instead think of the term, "chemical sh!t storm".  

    Now as to your original point.  You are "right", just not right, especially about bloat being the "only thing it will do", because that's not true.  It's true about needing carbs for energy, needing the balance, and about the bloat and not real weight gain.  What you missed is that muscles are actually built during sleep and as a result of a natural increase in HGH (human growth hormone) that happens during that cycle.  That cycle is inhibited by insulin and cortisol.  It is therefore best to have a simple type carb, believe it or not, at night, like fruit.  It will spike and then disappear, so then your insulin can go down during the nighttime, and your muscles grow in the way they ideally should.  

    You also didn't prove that carbs at night don't cause bloat.  Now mind you, I don't care either way, because it's long term that worries me, not one meal, but don't be fooled into thinking, or worse, fool others into thinking that one anecdotal example has any scientific validity.  

    Mighty Max

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • Jessica. I concede that in my effort to make a good point, I used an example from my own life that might not be the best advice for others. Mainly, what I wanted to share is that eating carbs (healthy ones) at night won't hurt you.

    If it helps to appease certain sensitivities on the matter I have deleted the personal example so as to not lead people to think that I believe eating certain types of foods not on the "authorized" list is acceptable in Body for Life terms.

    Finding balance in life though is key.

    "You can’t go the rest of your life hiding from temptation and not being able to enjoy life! After all, that is why you are doing this; to finally overcome the all or nothing mentality, to find the balance in life that you’ve always craved, and to really and truly make this a lifestyle for LIFE!" Body for Life motivational tip.

  • You're mixing points again, Andy.  True that we need to find the for life part of BFL, and to do so, balance is necessary.  Your original post was about carbs at night and how the only factor was bloat, which is actually incorrect.  I agree that once at goal there needs to be reason-ability or actually, it tells me that someone isn't maybe mentally healthy enough, because if having a not "perfect" meal freaks you out then that's a problem.  

    The contest is a totally different topic, however, and I think it's good to prove to oneself that you can stick to something, sacrifice, and achieve your more difficult goals.  The attitude that "you can't go the rest of your life hiding from temptation", as it relates to people looking to do the contest all out is just a cop out.  It's what people tell themselves when they want the ice cream, but free day isn't until Sunday, or whatever.  So the balance goes both ways.  

    I do recognize that people on these boards are at all stages of the contest, be it pre, during, post, or a combination.  

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!