Q. Do carbohydrates make me fat?
A. The answer is no. Carbohydrates are necessary nutrients. They provide energy for the body, metabolism of fats, spare muscle proteins, and provide essential fiber, vitamins and minerals. Excess intake of any nutrient, carbohydrate, fat, protein or alcohol over daily calorie needs will cause weight gain.
Selecting carbohydrates that are moderate- to low-glycemic foods and high in fiber can help with satiety, blood sugar regulation and energy balance indirectly. Overconsumption of sugar, refined processed carbohydrates and high-glycemic foods could lead to uncontrolled spikes in blood sugar, low energy and increased appetite. Therefore, to avoid hunger, it is advised to choose unprocessed, whole-food carbohydrates sources such as vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole fruit and grains to provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for healthy weight loss. In addition, carbohydrate is imperative to glycogen repletion before, during and after exercise for strength, power, aerobic and anaerobic performance, and conditioning. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for carbohydrate intake for an adult is 45 to 65% of total caloric intake.
Q. Does eating at night make me fat?
A. Weight gain is a result of eating more calories than you burn on a regular basis, not when you eat. Because of their preference or schedule, many people eat later in the evening, before bed, or even wake up in the middle of the night to take in calories. If one gains weight doing this, it is because of excess calorie intake, not the timing.
The body does not have an enzyme with a watch that after 7 pm preferentially stores items, especially carbohydrates, as fat. We all have a certain number of calories that we can consume without gaining weight. As long as we do not exceed that number, weight gain will not occur.
Imagine this scenario: at your height, weight, and activity level, you know that you burn 2,750 calories in a 24-hour period. You have had a busy day, and since your 350-calorie breakfast, you have not had the opportunity to eat. You get home late after a long day and you are starving. At 9 pm, you eat an enormous 1,000-calorie meal. Added to the 350-calorie breakfast, this brings your total calories consumed for the day to 1,350 calories. After your late meal you are exhausted and promptly go to bed. Will you gain weight? Simply put, no. You have burned 1,400 calories more than you consumed. So, the moral here is to figure out how many calories you can have during the day to lose or maintain weight and distribute those calories and foods in a manner that makes you feel your best and prevents hunger.
Questions and answers provided by NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Fourth Edition Revised
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.