Q. Should I cut out carbs after 6pm?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Tuesday, 22 October 2013.
Tagged: Calories, carbohydrates, carbs, dieting, dinner, kilojoules, portion size, weight loss

Q. Should I cut out carbs after 6pm?

A. Every second week or so, someone asks me this same question: "Should I avoid carbohydrates after 6pm (or 5pm or 4pm) if I want to lose some weight?" So I thought I'd let you in on what I usually advise and you can pass it along to your friends and family. Hope it makes sense and fits in with the current thinking.

Cutting out carbs like potato, pasta, rice or bread with dinner is simply a way of cutting down on kilojoules (Calories). That's all. There's nothing magical about the timing.

Here's what you'll save:

  • Cut out a large baked potato and you reduce your dinner intake by 580 kJ (140 cals).
  • Cut out a cup of steamed white rice and you're down 770 kJ (185 cals).
  • Cut out a cup of cooked spaghetti and you're down 840 kJ (200 cals).

So out of a total dinner intake of say 1680 kilojoules (400 cals) for a steak, potato and salad, you can knock off more than 50 per cent if you say "No" to the carbs. That's why you lose weight!

Eat light at night

Having said that, I do think it's a really good idea to eat lightly at night. Why? Well, most of us are at our least active in the evening – think of all those reality TV and talent shows we sit and watch – and so we're less likely to burn off any excess.

The usual practice of eating a big meal late at night which is common in Western societies doesn't help the weight loss cause at all. You'd be better off eating your main meal in the middle of day and enjoying a light supper at night - but we don't do it that way!

BUT there's no point in eating an unbalanced meal ...

... It only sets you up to pick at chocolate or ice cream later on when you're still hungry. A steak or fish fillet with non-starchy vegetables like green beans or tomato or a salad (even a large one) is not a balanced meal. It needs some carbs - just one serve - and you'll finish the meal feeling a lot more satisfied. Just half of cup of cooked brown rice or quinoa or a small baked potato will balance things out nicely.

I've changed the quantities of carbohydrates I now eat at night in line with this and found it much easier to maintain my weight.

I've said good-bye to those huge bowls of heavy pasta with fat-free sauce I used to tuck into – and I feel better for it.

Remember the trick is to

CUT DOWN, not CUT OUT completely.

 

If you really want to cut down, ditch the glass (or two or three) of wine you have with your meal.

Two glasses of dry wine, red or white, add an extra 1000 kJ (240 cals), much more than a humble spud or spag.

 

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.