How to Eat Carbs without Ruining Your Diet

By Michael A. Smith, MD

My sister hates me. Why? Because I started her on a low-carb diet a couple of months ago and now she’s miserable. She’s been calling me almost every day to complain about what I’m doing to her and how much she misses her favorite cereals and pasta dishes.

Perhaps this new study will finally get her off my back?

Premise: Timing of Carbs Matters

If you’re looking to shed a few pounds but also love your carbs, this new study may hold the key. In an article recently published in the journal Obesity, researchers compared two identical low-calorie diets for their effect on weight loss.1

The only difference between the groups studied was the time of the day that they ate their carbohydrates.

Setting up the Study

Seventy-eight obese police officers were randomly assigned to two identical low-calorie diets and were instructed not to change their level of physical activity at all.

Both groups followed the same standard low-calorie diet consisting of 20% protein, 30–35% fat, and 45–50% carbohydrates every day. Again, the only difference was the time of day they ate their carbs.

The test group consumed carbohydrates mostly at dinner while the control group ate carbohydrates throughout the entire day.

The participants were followed for six months to track their progress.

Results Worth the Weight?

Here’s what the researchers found for the test group — the people who ate their carbs mostly at dinner:1

  1. They experienced more weight loss and a greater reduction in body fat.
  2. Hunger scores were lower.
  3. They had greater improvements in fasting blood sugar levels.
  4. They had lower levels of inflammatory markers, including tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-6, and C-reactive protein (CRP).

The Conclusion? Eat Your Carbs at Dinner

According to this study, if you’re trying to lose weight but love your carbs, eat them at dinner. Following this method shouldn’t interfere with your weight loss success.

This is good news for my sister, but …

Please don’t stop your diet and revert back to your old eating habits after reading this. Remember, the study does not promote eating more carbs, just eating them at dinner.

Sorry, sis!

Are you going to give this method a shot yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


  1. Sofer S, et al. Greater Weight Loss and Hormonal Changes after 6 Months Diet with Carbohydrates Eaten Mostly at Dinner. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Apr 7.


Anonymous said...

That's basically what the Carbohydrate's Addict Diet does.

Life Extension said...

We agree in part, but the Carbohydrate Addict's Diet approaches weight more from the insulin side of things. The diet attempts improve insulin sensitivity by managing blood sugar spikes with every meal.

JB said...

In your part of the world is dinner the evening meal?

Life Extension said...

JB, dinner is the evening meal for Americans. We usually eat dinner between 5 and 7 PM. But this can vary from person to person.

Chuck said...

Seems like it just mattered that they ate the majority of carbs at one meal, so what if they ate them mostly at breakfast or lunch instead?

Adolfo David said...

In Mediterranean european culture, and specifically in Spain, dinner is usually between 9 and 12 PM

Life Extension said...

That's what is so surprising about the study Chuck. The results show that if two people eat the same number of carbs, only at different times during the day -- the one eating carbs at dinner loses more weight! The real question is what type of carbs did they eat?

Life Extension said...

Adolfo, you bring up a good point. The study was designed around the standard American meal plan. Extrapolating to other cultures with different meal plans is difficult.

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