Before I delve into the pure ridiculousness that is this myth (and gloriously DEBUNK it), have you ever noticed how the cut-off varies from person to person? Some say 5pm, others swear by the 7pm spot whilst most settle for the median of 6pm? It takes a great deal of self-restraint to not roll my eyes spectacularly. And what about those poor souls who have to be at work early and only have time to squeeze in a PM workout? Do they have to go without the much-needed post-workout carbs?
What I think has probably happened through the Chinese Whisper Syndrome is that the intent of this at-first-good-recommendation has been obscured. The carbohydrates that are most likely being referred to in this are the sugary-starchy ones. Basically anything that comes in a packet and so yes we’re talking about biscuits, pastas, white rice and bread. The kind we tend to snack on whilst watching TV in bed before going to bed. Cutting these out in the latter part of your day automatically cuts down a massive chunk of your calorie intake. Needless to say these foods are calorie dense and extremely unhealthy! In place, the idea was to consume nutritious carbs like that found in meat, vegetables, legumes, yoghurt and wholegrain bread. These especially have an excellent reputation for decreasing the risk of heart disease and colon cancer as they add valuable dietary fibre to the digestive system as well.
The psychological adverse effect of placing a curfew on when you can consume a certain food group invariably results in the person bingeing on it in the time-frame that is “allowed” which in turn results in weight gain. Such a kind of deprivation is essentially the mentality of dieting and once one goes back to eating normally at mealtimes, weight gain is inevitable. The body that was tricked into starvation for those hours now stores double in fat to save for the next “drought”.
So what to do? Eat healthy small meals throughout the day, restrict your calories intake to match what you burn and try to ensure 2 hours before your last meal and going to bed. This 2-hour window will ensure proper digestion of the carbs, fats and proteins ingested and help your body recover and repair itself whilst you sleep. Wholesome foods will help keep your sugar levels from spiking and instead ensure a steady titrated level of insulin. Regular exercise will work on the sensitivity of insulin increasing it to almost 48 hours after an intense workout. And a good night’s sleep after healthy, natural foods and exercise will have a higher oxidation of fat and so you burn more calories while you sleep!
So give your white rice and pizzas a miss in the evenings and swap them with greens and lean meats. Say goodbye to stodgy puddings and replace them with yoghurt and fruit and cherish the nourishing effects of exercise (sorry folks, no shortcuts on this) and wholesome carbs.
Juggling many roles from physician to writer to pilates instructor to Marketing-PR executive, Dr. Daamini is constantly pushed and inspired to get creative on how to encompass a Retreat into her daily life.