HIGH on many people’s New Year resolutions is to start a diet now that Christmas is firmly behind us.
And one of the most popular is to follow is a low-carb diet, based on the belief that carbohydrates such as pasta and white bread can be bad for the waist line.
Getty – Contributor Is eating carbs for breakfast better for you than having them for dinner? A new study set out to explore this
As well as limiting the amount of carbs in the diet, some people go as far as to monitor the time of day that they consume them.
Some individuals think that eating carbs in the evening before bed is far worse for the body than in the morning, due to the belief that glucose from carbs can be burned off during the day.
But does it really matter what time of day you eat carbs?
BBC’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor, along with the University of Surrey’s Dr Adam Collins, set out to test the theory using some healthy volunteers.
Getty – Contributor Some individuals think that eating carbs in the evening before bed is far worse for the body than in the morning, due to the belief that glucose from carbs can be burned off during the day
All participants in the small study were instructed to eat a fixed amount of carbohydrates each day, which could be consumed in the form of food such as vegetables, pasta or bread.
For the first five days, volunteers were asked to eat the majority of their carbs in the morning.
Then they had five days of normal eating, before switching for the final five days so most of the carb allowance was consumed in the evening.
For the high-carb breakfasts and low-carb dinners, the average blood glucose response was found to be 15.9 units.
However, the average glucose response went down to 10.4 units for the high-carb dinners and low-carb breakfasts.
The blood glucose results for the evening carb-heavy diet were considerably lower than what the experts expected.
They concluded that it is not when you eat your carbs that is important but more the length of carb-free “fasting” before eating them.
If there is a big carb-free gap between consumption, your body will be able to tackle it more easily.
Typically your body will be more ready to deal with carbs in the morning as you have “fasted” over night.
However the study proved that if you go low-carb throughout the day, it has a similar effect.
Handout The study was conducted by the team on Trust Me I’m a Doctor which is on BBC Two
Dr Collins advised that you shouldn’t stress too much over what time of day you eat carbs, as long as you don’t go overboard with them for every meal of the day.
Nutritionist Amanda Ursell said to the Sun Online: “The study was for a very small number of people so you can’t draw any major conclusions from that as it is just a snapshot.
“We all know how it feels if you have a big carby meal, you feel sleepy afterwards. If you have a high carbohydrate load, it does actually make you feel a bit soporific.
“It would make sense for breakfast to not go crazy on carbs as if you are an office worker, you’ve got to be awake and be alert.
“If you were working in a very manual job, carbs at breakfast wouldn’t really be a big problem and you’d burn them off, so it depends on what you do.”
Getty – Contributor Dr Collins advised that you shouldn’t stress too much over what time of day you eat carbs, as long as you don’t go overboard with them for every meal of the day
Amanda recommended spreading out small amounts of carbohydrates for each meal of the day and not cutting them out for dinner.
She advised: “Having quite a lot of carbs at dinner could be a good thing, as it releases a lot of serotonin and makes you feel relaxed. It could be useful physiologically and could help people fall asleep more easily.
“If I was looking at spreading my carbs out, I would have a small amount at breakfast, small amount at lunch and more at dinner.