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Article Title:
Will A Carb Snack After Dinner Make You Fat?

Article Description:
Many dieters and athletes are concerned that they'll store fat 
if they eat carbohydrates before bed.  This article discusses 
research and expert advice on what kind of snack will fuel the 
body overnight, without storing excess energy.

Additional Article Information:
861 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line
Distribution Date and Time: Tue Mar 21 02:37:39 EST 2006

Written By:     Jenny Mathers
Copyright:      2006
Contact Email:  mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]

Article URL: 

For more free-reprint articles by this Author, please visit:


Will A Carb Snack After Dinner Make You Fat?
Copyright © 2006 Jenny Mathers
Savvy Fat Burning Food

Have you heard the theory that carbs before bed make you store 
fat and that protein is the best snack to eat after dinner and 
before bed time ?  If you're anything like me, you snack 
regularly at night and that snack just happens to be a 
carbohydrate.   You could be forgiven for thinking that this 
might be a bad habit to get into if you want to burn body fat.

There have been many recommendations that a good after dinner 
snack should be something like cottage cheese (a source of 
protein).  Reasons for these recommendations are that protein can 
increase metabolism and it provides the body with a slow-release 
source of amino acids.

Foods high in protein have been a popular choice because the 
digestion of protein causes the body to burn more calories than 
do carbs or fats.  This has the effect of marginally increasing 
the rate of metabolism.

Protein also provides the body with the essential biological 
building blocks known as amino acids which help to maintain 
muscle.  Because amino acids can't be stored, having a constant 
supply of these is essential.  So some recommend eating protein 
at the end of the day, to ensure that your body won't be without 
the amino acids it needs during the 8 - 10 hours sleep.

So protein is a good after dinner snack, but is this the whole 
story ?

What would happen if you ate carbs for your late night snack ? 
What about eating both carbohydrates AND protein ?

Dieters and athletes alike worry that they will gain weight if 
they eat carbs close to going to bed.  Essentially this is not 
true.  Weight gain does not result if you habitually eat 
carbohydrates after the evening meal and before you go to bed.

What The Research says:

Research indicates that carbohydrates at bed time play a role in 
helping to lose and maintain weight.

Researchers administering this study split participants into two 
groups, one eating a ready-to- eat cereal with skim milk, and the 
other not eating anything before bed time over a four week 
period.  The group who ate the ready-to-eat cereal before bed 
actually lost more weight than those who did not eat a bed time 
snack.  One explanation may be that carbohydrates are necessary 
for your body to process and break down fat.  So cutting 
carbohydrate intake when you want to burn fat might not be the 
best way to go.

Another explanation, may be that those who ate the cereal just 
ended up consuming less calories.  Researchers found that 
participants, in both groups consumed less calories, but those 
who ate the before bed time snack had the greatest decline in 
energy intake overall. [1] So eating carbs before bed will help 
you to lose weight, not gain weight.

Interestingly though, the group who ate the before bed-time 
snacks in the above study did not just consume carbohydrates, 
they also consumed protein not only from the skim milk, but also 
the protein contained in the cereal itself.

Expert Opinions on the Right Before Bed Time Snack.

Many nutritionists and dietetic experts recommend that your bed 
time snack consists of both carbohydrates and protein.  The 
American Dietetic Association [2] recommends eating sources of 
both carbs and protein together as a snack, giving examples such 
as crackers and low fat cheese, yogurt and fruit or cereal and 

In an Australian Institute of Sport sample high energy meal plan 
[3] for a young anonymous athlete, fruit smoothies with skim 
milk, fruit, ice-cream and skim milk powder was listed as the bed 
time snack.  Their official site [4] also indicates that 
combining nutrients is the way to go.

So according to the experts, examples of the most beneficial bed-
time snacks are:

* fruit and some plain low fat yogurt,

* a skim milk smoothie with fruit, or

* low fat cheese on crackers - my personal favorite.

When you combine both carbohydrates and protein it makes for a 
much more enjoyable and varied snack.  This way you are not only 
ensuring that your body is getting the right fuel and nutrients 
for use of overnight, but also ensuring that you're not going to 
store fat.


[1]  Sandia M. Waller, MS, RD, Jillon S. Vander Wal, PhD, David 
M. Klurfeld, PhD, FACN, Michael I. McBurney, PhD, FACN, Susan 
Cho, PhD, Smita Bijlani, MD and Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD, FACN 
Evening Ready-to-Eat Cereal Consumption Contributes to Weight 
Management   Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 
23, No. 4, 316-321 (2004). See the abstract at

[2]  American Dietetic Association Position on Late Night 
Snacking.  View the page at

[3]  Reported by Steve Dow at

[4]  Australian Institute of Sport FAQ "I have been told to avoid 
carbohydrate after 2 pm because it will turn to fat. Is this true?".  
Viewable at 

Copyright © 2006, Jenny Mathers

Jenny Mathers writes for 
<a href=""; title="Savvy 
Fat Burning Foods" 
collecting the most up to date and reputable information about 
weight loss, nutrition and overall health.  You can also 
subscribe anonymously to her Research and Article feed at 
<a href=""; title="RSS Feed" 



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