I struggled for most of 2014 with stage 2 adrenal exhaustion.
In a very short time period I had been laid off from my job, watched my Father die, and stopped taking birth control pills I had been taking for the prior 15 years.
Needless to say my hormones were completely f’ed.
As a result, I was extremely fatigued, couldn’t sleep, gained weight around my middle, and a bunch of other not so nice things.
The other day I was browsing through my local bookstore and I stumbled across a new book called, The Adrenal Reset Diet by Dr. Alan Christianson.
Naturally, it caught my attention.
Just as a little background, your adrenal system, or more specifically, your HPA axis, is responsible for manufacturing and secreting the majority of the hormones in your body – how much you make of them and when they’re secreted into your blood stream to do their jobs.
Essentially, they’re responsible for your metabolism.
You remember your metabolism, right?
I sat there for an hour browsing through the book, and I came across a little-known timing gem when it comes to consuming carbs.
Traditionally, it has been thought that the best time of day to consume carbs is first thing in the morning.
The rationale for that is that our metabolisms are cranking first thing in the morning so you’re more likely to burn the carbs for energy instead of storing them as fat.
Sounds reasonable, right?
That’s why I was excited to see a challenge to the conventional wisdom.
According to Dr. Christianson, there are indeed specific times of the day that your body is better able to utilize the carbs you consume – times when your potato won’t go directly to your ass, rather to your muscles instead.
Turns out that first thing in the morning is the absolute WORST time of day to eat carbs. Your body will convert that sugar to fat because you’re body is naturally insulin resistant first thing in the morning.
So, if you’re a cereal, oatmeal, or bagel lover and you’re eating those for breakfast every morning this is probably why you’re carrying a few extra pounds.
However, as the day goes on, your body gets more and more receptive to carbs and can better utilize them for energy. In other words, your insulin sensitivity increases and you’re less likely to have them stored as fat.
Not only that, but eating your carbs at night improves your energy levels, helps control daytime hunger and cravings and will help you sleep like a baby!
Dr. Christianson writes:
“In one large study, 78 overweight adults, between the ages of 25 to 55, were assigned to two different diet groups and tracked closely for six months. Each group ate 1,300 to 1,500 calories per day, derived from 20-percent protein, 30- to 35-percent fat and 45-percent to 50-percent carbs. The only difference between the two groups was that the control group ate carbs throughout the day, while the experimental group limited most carbs to nighttime. Not only did those eating carbs later in the day lose more weight, they had less daytime hunger, improved energy, better control of blood sugar and less inflammation. The researchers also measured powerful, weight-regulating hormones, including leptin, ghrelin and adiponectin. The participants on the carb cycling diet showed greater improvements in all hormonal measures of weight regulation. This means even though they lost weight, they were hormonally set up to keep it off and not regain like so many often do!”
Benefits to Consuming Carbs Later in the Day
Let’s recap why Dr. Christianson maintains that we should go against conventional wisdom and consume our carbs later in the day rather than earlier.
- Lose more body fat
- Less daytime hunger and cravings
- Increased energy levels
- Better control of blood sugar levels
- Decreased systemic inflammation
- Improved sleep
You now know the best time of day to consume carbs as well as the time of day you should steer clear of them.
So, what should a daily meal plan look like knowing this information?
Daily Meal Plan for Never Storing Carbs as Fat
Breakfast: 1 serving protein, 1 serving healthy fat, 0 serving carbs
Lunch: 1 serving protein, 1 serving healthy fat, 1 serving carbs
Dinner: 1 serving protein, 1 serving healthy fat, 2 servings carbs
Of course, WHAT carbs you actually eat plays a big role too, so let’s talk about that next.
It isn’t enough to simply follow a “low carb” diet anymore.
Quality matters A LOT! Just like with protein and fat, there are good carbs and bad carbs.
Moreover, going too high or too low with your carbs can both hinder your weight loss efforts by negatively altering your fat burning hormones.
Food Timing Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs
Here are a list of good carbs you should feel free to consume in appropriate portions during lunch and dinner:
- Raw, organic honey (preferably local to your area)
- Dark, leafy greens
- All vegetables
- Tubers (i.e sweet potato)
- Root vegetables
- *Questionable carbs – white rice and quinoa (check blood sugar response to these foods as they have a tendency to spike your insulin levels).
Here is a list of bad carbs you should avoid in favor of the list above:
- Most fruits except for those listed on the list above
- English muffins
- Yogurt (other than plain)
- Whole wheat
- Brown rice
As with anything, you should follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time you should eat good carbs during the strategic times of the day you are more insulin sensitive leaving 20% room for error (or indulgence).
If you are able to eat the right carbs during these times, your body will function most optimally and you won’t have that nasty energy slump people who go really low carb generally get.
You’ll be using your carbs as fuel instead of storing them in your fat cells.
Who wouldn’t want THAT?
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