Say what? Eating carbs at night is better for your waistline than in the morning.
That's what TV doctor Michael Mosley found while filming U.K. TV show Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, after he teamed up with the University of Surrey's Dr. Adam Collins to test whether the theory that eating carbohydrates in the morning is better for us is true.
It's widely believed chowing down on toast in the morning is better than loading up on potatoes or pasta in the evening because it gives the body more time to burn the glucose released from the carbs. When you eat late at night your body is preparing to sleep, so the body should take longer to clear it.
However, Michael found that this simply wasn't true.
Recruiting a team of healthy volunteers, the group were all asked to eat a fixed amount of carbs every day from sources such as vegetables, bread, and pasta. For the first five days, the participants consumed most of their carb allowance in the morning, leaving a small amount for their evening meal. They then switched it up, opting for low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners.
Throughout the 10 days, their blood-glucose levels were monitored, and the end results shocked both medical professionals.
"When the researchers tested the volunteers on the day after a run of high-carb breakfasts and low-carb dinners, they found their average blood glucose response was 15.9 units. This was roughly as predicted," Michael wrote in an article for the BBC. "But when they did the same tests after five days of low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners, remarkably, their average glucose response went down to 10.4 units, which was considerably lower than we were expecting."
Explaining what he thinks happened, he says it's not to do with when you eat carbs, but the length of the carb-free "fasting" period that precedes a meal.
"That happens naturally in the mornings because you've had the whole of the night, when you were asleep, in which to 'fast,'" he outlined. "But our small study suggests that if you go low-carb for most of the day, that seems to have a similar effect.
"In other words, after a few days of low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners your body becomes trained for this - it becomes better at responding to a heavy carb load in the evening."
A larger study is now being launched to examine the topic further.