Back to Blog

Where, When, and How should Low-Carb Meals and Recipes Be Consumed?

Though carbohydrates often get a bad rap, the truth is they are still an essential part of any diet, and even low-carb dinner meals and recipes will contain some amount of carbs. The key to maintaining a healthy diet while consuming carbs is understanding how they work and, in turn, how they should be consumed.

For starters, it’s important to understand the difference between complex and simple carbs and how each type is broken down in the body:

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbs, also known as monosaccharides or disaccharides, are comprised of structures that contain only one or two sugar molecules. Because of their short structure, simple carbs are broken down easily and quickly. Though this can provide an instant energy boost in the body, it can also raise blood glucose levels very quickly.

Refined forms of simple carbs, such as soda and candy, provide no nutritional benefit, hence the term empty calories. Including unrefined natural carbs, as found in certain vegetables in your dinner meals and recipes, will boost your vitamin and mineral intake and are good options.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs, also known as polysaccharides, are comprised of a starchy structure that contain three or more sugar molecules. Because they contain these extra molecules, complex carbs break down slowly, providing the body with a steadier and longer-lasting release of energy.

It should be noted, however, that not all complex carbs are made equal. If you’re including some complex carbs in your low-carb dinner recipes and meals, opt for unrefined choices such as lettuce, cucumber, cauliflower, or broccoli. These complex carbs also contain dietary fiber, which is very beneficial to the body and can leave you feeling full for much longer.

When You Should Eat Carbs

Whether it is released quickly or slowly, carbohydrates provide energy. As such, the optimal time to consume carbohydrates is before activity, particularly high-intensity activities that deplete glycogen stores.

Contrary to popular belief, you should eat complex carbohydrates at breakfast and dinner, but that is not carved in stone. It is wrong to think if you eat complex carbs at lunch you’ll be able to burn them in the afternoon and if you eat them at dinner your body might store them as fat with the inactivity. It’s not that simple.

Eating Carbs At Lunch… Is It A Myth?

Your body does not use up what you ate for lunch in the afternoon. It must digest your lunch, convert it and assimilate it before it can be used for energy. Active people and athletes eat pasta at dinner, but do not go out and run at night, right?

At night, your body goes through a long period of fasting, rests, and recharges its batteries for the next day (like a cell phone). Complex carbohydrates are filling and easy to digest, which means eating them at night can be helpful.

Don’t Cut Out Carbs Altogether

No matter what, don’t be afraid to eat carbohydrates, as they are essential. With that in mind, the best time to consume carbohydrates will depend on your schedule more so than the hour of day you decide to eat them.

It’s important to understand that low-carb dinner meals and recipes do not always mean no-carb dinner meals and recipes.

While an excess of carbohydrates can certainly spike blood sugar levels and lead to weight gain, the body still requires some amount carbohydrates to produce energy and perform day-to-day functions. By understanding how they work, you can make sure you’re consuming the right kind of carbs at the right time for your body.

This website contains general information about medical conditions, nutrition, health and diets.

To view our disclaimers click here.