Does avoiding carbs at night help with weight loss?

Man eating pasta

Senior nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation Bridget Benelam explains whether avoiding carbs at night can help with weight loss.

Q I’m trying to lose weight. Should I stop eating carbs at night?

A There’s no evidence to suggest calories consumed at night (from carbs or any other food group) are any more fattening than those eaten at other times of the day – it’s the overall balance of the calories consumed versus the calories used by the body that, over time, causes us to gain (or lose) weight.

There’s no reason to cut out carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta, rice or potatoes, from your evening meal. Provided you keep portion sizes sensible and limit creamy or oily accompaniments, they have a relatively low energy density and contribute micronutrients and fibre.

If you’re trying to control your weight, late-night eating may hinder your efforts simply because of the types of foods you may be eating.

Assuming you’ve had dinner, things eaten later tend to be snacks with a high energy density that add calories without necessarily providing essential nutrients. It may help to have a cut-off point for eating in the evening, so you get out of the habit of grazing.

First published: Jun 2015
Last updated: August 21, 2020

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