What Do You Mean I Can’t Eat Carbs After 6?

For me, a dinner without carbs is like a beach without sun, so I was terrified when asked to try out that no carbs after 6pm rule. Hailing from the Nineties, the theory goes that our bodies stop breaking down carbs after this time, so a night-time moment on the lips means a lifetime on the hips. 

Carbs have got a bad rap in the last few years thanks to us consistently being told that if we want to lose weight, we need to cut them out completely. But just how true is that? So, before committing to this terrifying 6pm challenge, I wanted to find out if this myth has any scientific backing. Here’s what I learnt. 

What’s A Carb? 
First things first, let’s start by breaking down what a carbohydrate (aka carb) actually is. When speaking carbs, there are 2 different types - Simple and Complex. Sorry, to any Scientists reading for my very basic explanation… It’s just a short blog post after all.  

 Image Source:  @healthy_belly

Image Source: @healthy_belly

Simple Carbs
These come from sugar. So, things like soft drinks and sweets definitely belong to this category but did you realise that it also includes fruit? I was pleased to learn that simple carbs actually serve a purpose when you’re trying to lose or maintain weight. So luckily, we don’t have to totally dismiss them.

I was however shocked to learn that when our body is craving chocolate or sweets, what it’s really telling us is that it’s tired and needs a quick hit of energy to liven things up. So, listen to your body but remember what it is craving is simple carbs and it’s your brain which is turning that into an image of a cheeky Snickers. So, next time you have a mid-afternoon craving, eat an apple. What you’re doing is giving your body the sugar spike it needs and tricking your brain into thinking it’s had the chocolate. So clever! 

My Tip
What will happen when you do this, though is that you will have a quick burst of energy which can quickly dissipate. So, have the simple carb as a quick hit but try and stay full on complex carbs to avoid the sugar comedown. 

Complex Carbs
These are the good guys but again in moderation. You’ll get a massive hit of these guys from things like green vegetables, whole grains and foods (pasta, brown rice, oatmeal) and starchy vegetables. If you were to track your carbohydrate intake, what you would find surprising is just how much more you’ll get out of complex carbs – were talking a full meal rather than a glass of soft drink. 

As a general rule (and I’m speaking very generally, we’re not Dietitians but this works for us) you should try and fill your daily carbohydrate intake with complex carbs but keep 10 – 15% just in case you need a sugary pick me up. 


 Image Source:  @naturally.jo

Image Source: @naturally.jo

It’s A Myth! 
The good news is researchers have debunked ‘no carbs after 6pm’ as a complete myth – not all heroes wear capes!! Turns out our bodies in fact don’t have some secret carb clock which tells them that it’s 6pm so carbs are off the table. What is more important is that you don’t exceed a total number of daily calories and that those calories come from a varied array of complex carbs, healthy fats and proteins.

Don’t Get Too excited
We’ve got to however remember that our bodies need fuel to get through the day and complex carbs are kind of like premium unleaded. Yep, you read that right. If you want to lose weight and are combining a healthy diet with exercise, carbs are the hero! They last longer and keep us fuller for longer. Having them at the start of the day is probably a good idea if you’re trying to eat less as you won’t get those mid-morning cravings for chocolate. 

What Now?
If this all seems like a crazy science puzzle then you’re absolutely right, giving our bodies the fuel they need is tricky but as usual someone has invented an app to help us out. Bless the internet and all its many treasures. So, if you’d like to kick the carb myth and find out what you’re body really needs, My Fitness Pal is going to make a great addition to your smartphone.

That’s the direction I’m heading in. Now I’m off back to the BFW office to tell them nothing comes between a woman and her carbs. Hurrah!!! 

Author: Helen