Carbs have long been at the heart of all health-related conversations, especially when it comes to the subject of weight loss. With diets like Keto, which shuns carbs completely, and carb cycling, which allows you to adjust your daily carbohydrate intake depending on how hard you’ve trained on a specific day, people are experimenting with the consumption of this macronutrient to achieve their weight loss goals.
One eating approach that has recently gained popularity is carb backloading which promotes the concept of consuming your daily carb allowance a bit late in the day in order to shed off the extra weight.
This idea may sound odd to most of us who have been told all our lives that spreading out carbs evenly across breakfast, lunch and dinner, is the best way to avoid sudden spike in blood sugar levels. So, what exactly is the logic behind carb backloading, and does it actually work in helping you lose weight. Let’s get the facts straight before you consider giving this new approach a try.
What Exactly is Carb Backloading?
The most crucial – and only – principle of this phenomenon is to consume most of your carbohydrates during a specific time of the day. But what exactly is the rationale behind carb backloading? It all comes down to insulin production and your body’s sensitivity towards it. Insulin is important for turning glucose into energy and transporting it to cells around the body.
When you eat carbs, the insulin level in the blood increases, but the amount of insulin produced depends on a factor called ‘insulin sensitivity’ which is simply your body’s ability to respond to the increase in glucose level. Studies have shown that our insulin sensitivity is at its peak when the body’s glucose stores are completely depleted, usually after a prolonged fasting period or intense exercise.
When we eat most of our carbs later during the day, we’re basically telling our body to use fat stores as fuel for energy which promotes fat loss. Most experts suggest that you also add a workout session before consuming your carbs. It makes the fat burning process faster since your body requires energy for the intense activity but in the absence of glycogen stores, it must use stored body fat as fuel.
Does Carb Backloading Help in Weight Loss?
Research has shown that eating most of the carbs in the evening can curb your appetite, therefore preventing you from overeating and ultimately leading to weight loss. The problem is that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that carb backloading promotes fat burning since only a few researches have been explored in this area using small sample sizes.
Theoretically, carb backloading may work for people who either train in the evening and need pre and post-workout carbs to replenish their energy levels or those who are on a low carb diet and wish to save most of their carbs for later during the day when they feel the hungriest. But there isn’t enough evidence that favors carb backloading for people who don’t have an active lifestyle but still wish to lose weight.
Is Carb Backloading for You?
Experts say that carb backloading may be the ideal eating approach for those who train in late hours of the day or those who crave carbs the most during night time. In some rare cases where people experience GI distress before their morning workout, are recommended by their doctors to eat a moderate carb meal before going to bed at night and delay their breakfast until after the morning workout.
If you decide to give carb loading a try, it is important to remember that the quality of the carbs and the amount you consume are still just as important as in any other diet. When choosing carbs for your meal, it’s best to stick with unprocessed ones and whole grains which are easier to digest and keep you full for longer.