During an episode of the BBC’S Trust Me I’m a Doctor, Dr Michael Mosley (the creator of the famed 5:2 diet) conducted an experiment to find out if our body’s ability to keep blood sugar in check is affected by the time of day carbs are consumed.
For five days, volunteers were asked to eat a high carb breakfast (a fixed amount that included foods like veggies, bread and pasta) and a low carb dinner. This was followed by five days of normal eating and then a final five days of eating low carb brekkies and high-carb dinners. A moderate amount of carbs were eaten for lunch throughout the study.
What happened next was pretty unexpected, to say the least.
After the initial period of starting the day with a high carb meal and ending it with a low carb option, the volunteers recorded an average blood glucose level of 15.9 units. But after the preceding low carb brekkie and high carb dinner experiment, this reduced to 10.4 units.
In short: their ability to process carbs throughout the day had actually improved.
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“If you eat lots of carbohydrates and sugars, particularly the sort without fibre that get quickly absorbed, they will rapidly push up your blood glucose (sugar) levels," he writes in a follow-up article for the network.
When this glucose isn’t burned through physical activity, the pancreas responds by releasing insulin into the bloodstream to bring the levels down again and store the excess sugar as fat.
That's why Dr Mosely says these results suggests the “no carbs in the evening” theory is far too broad an approach for those looking to slim down.
“It could be that what matters is not so much when you eat your carbs but the length of the carbs-free ‘fasting’ period that precedes your meal.”
“If you’ve had a big gap since your last carb-rich meal, your body will be more ready to deal with it. That happens naturally in the mornings because you’ve had the whole of the night, when you were asleep, in which to ‘fast.’ But our study suggests that if you go low-carb for most of the day that seems to have a similar effect.”