Top 3 Times to Consume Carbs So You Don’t Store Body Fat

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There are a bunch of diets out there that tell you that you should avoid carbs or at least limit them to a small amount. I’m sure we have all heard of at least one of them, or at least know someone who has tried a low carb, or no carb diet.

But are carbs really that bad?

Sure carbs are the only nonessential macronutrient, but I believe after years of trail and errors on myself as well as thousands of clients, and of course all of the research that I have seen into the subject, that it isn’t all that simple.

The truth is, it all depends on what type of carb you consume and even when you consume them.

Eat them at the right times, and they’ll accelerate your fat loss and get you leaner.

Get the timing wrong and over-consume, and you may sabotage your goals.

Here are the top 3 times that you should be consuming your carbs in order to maximize your fat loss and use them to your advantage!

1. Morning

One of the best times to consume carbs is in the morning, right after you wake up.

Overnight, while you sleep, your body fasts and goes through carbohydrates that it stores away, also known as glycogen. When you eat carbs first thing in the morning, your body uses these carbs to replenish what you lost over night, rather than storying them as fat.

One of the best things that you can do is to reach for some steel cut oats, granola, or even a little bit of fruit.

Remember to also consume protein in the morning a long with your carbs.

2. Pre-workout

Because carbs are so critical to providing energy, consuming carbs before your workout is a must, as the more energy you have, the harder you train.

Consume your carbs about an hour before you workout.

You could easily opt for the same carb sources you had at breakfast, or, alternatively, switch things up a little. Quinoa, white rice and sweet potatoes are all nutrient-dense, minimally processed carbohydrates that will work just great for fueling your workout, whether you’re hitting the weights or getting in some high-intensity cardio.

I talk more about the best carb sources in the video below:

3. Post-workout

The reason why you need carbs after your workout is similar to the reason you’re taking them in first thing in the A.M.

Those glycogen stores are used up when you train hard, and in order for you to replenish and allow your body to shuttle nutrients, you need carbs in your post-workout meal[1].

Additionally, carbs help shuttle insulin to the muscle cells, and this accelerates the delivery of nutrients such as protein to the broken down muscle tissue.

This is absolutely critical, and something many people usually don’t take into consideration.

Neglect your post-workout carbs, and your muscles simply won’t recover like they should. You’ll likewise feel more sore, and over time you may even lose some lean muscle tissue. When you don’t feed your muscles, your metabolism drops, and you’ll likely be training at sub-optimal levels until you get this under control [23].

I like a lot of the same choices here too.

However, it’s important to switch up your carb sources, so if you had oats before training, have some potatoes afterwards, or vice-versa.

Bonus Tip – Always Have Protein with Your Carbs

I can’t stress how important this is.

Adding protein to your carbs slows down the digestion process, and ensures that you’re getting more protein delivered to your muscle cells. Protein also helps you feel fuller longer, so you don’t get those terrible hunger pangs and cravings that so many dieters suffer from.

The Wrap Up – Why Carb Timing is the Key to Your Fat Loss Success

There’s no getting around the fact that the low-carb people are on to something.

To torch body fat and lose stubborn weight, you do need to cut your carbs. But going too far will lead to losses in muscle mass and drops in performance, hence why carb timing is so critical.

Although cutting carbs may be helpful, you CANNOT cut carbs too low for extended periods of time without doing more harm than good to your metabolism. This is one reason why a carb cycle can be helpful, as you don’t cut out carbs long enough to do harm, and it keeps your metabolism guessing, rather than letting it adapt to a new diet.

By eating carbs at these times, you guarantee that when you do eat them, they’re utilized optimally, and not shuttled straight to your cells and stored as body fat.

For the rest of your meals, stick to proteins such as chicken, lean red meat and fish (grass-fed and wild caught if possible), green vegetables and healthy fats like nuts and avocado.

Time your carbs right, and you’ll see some positive change in both your body as well as your performance.

Prime Your Body for Perfect Carb Control

Follow the guidelines in this article, and you can’t go wrong.

These rules surrounding carb timing work well.

And remember, timing only works if you are eating the right carbs. Click here to discover the difference between bad and good carbs.

But, like anything with training, diet and fat loss, to get things absolutely perfect, and make fat loss as efficient as possible, your meals should be personalized.

Everybody has different genetics and a different metabolism, so what works great for your best friend or brother/sister likely won’t be ideal for you.

Today you can put your success first, and ensure that you really are getting your nutrition and your carbs just right at all times, by putting it in the hands of an expert, with Custom Meal Plans. Through this program we customize a meal plan according to your individual stats and needs, telling you what to eat and when. We take out all of the guess work. Never again will you have to try and figure out when to consume carbs, or even how much. We give you the good carbs to consume, how much of them and when to eat them to work towards your advantage so you burn more fat, faster!

Attempting to figure out what works for your specific goals can be very frustrating, especially with all of the conflicting information on the web. So let our experts do it for you. We have completed over 40,000 custom meal plans to date for people all over the world (all 4 continents!) — these plans are designed unique to your body type, around your wants, needs, and goals. We also take into consideration your activity level to make sure you know exactly what to, and when, ever day of the week removing 100% of the guesswork.

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Here’s an example of just one of our clients, Susie Nokes, and the power our custom meal plans can have in just 30 short days. Pretty impressive, heh? Click here to unlock the power of custom nutrition and instantly begin stripping body fat — fast!

Meet Michael Morelli, founder of Morellifit! Michael has always been involved in fitness (and believe it or not was once even a very competent magician), but the journey to where he is now is an uncommon one. Always a big believer in hard work, Michael set up a successful retail business after dropping out... read more

Comments

  1. vanessah says:

    For me, the key to success was alternating between high- and low-carb days. This allows you to still eat carbs from clean sources, without adding body fat and enables you to better utilize fat for burning as fuel, as opposed to burning carbs and muscle tissue for fuel (more about carb cycling: http://everydayhealthhero.com/can-carb-cycling-help-you-lose-weight). Since late January I have been using this method, works well!. I have lost 16lb and I have no doubt that this is going to be a sustained success story. Thankfully, motivation isn’t a problem, it’s easier to eat low carb when you know you can have a high carb day every few days

    • Awesome 🙂 Glad you have experienced such good success. Once I started carb cycing I really was able to see what my body was capable of.

    • I’m very intrigued by what I’m reading about this carb cycling. I’ve been on low carb since February 15th. I lost about 6 kilos (13 lbs) upto the middle of the third week and NONE thereafter – not a single pound. My weight loss goes through such long plateaus that I’m really not sure if I’ll see results if I start doing this cycling, but I think I’m going to give it a try anyway. I tend to stick to induction level ( 30carbs or less) most of the time, and I know that despite that I can still stay stalled a long time. So maybe a more systematic approach of higher carbs/lower carbs would also work for me.

  2. Courtney says:

    White rice? I thought it was better to eat brown rice since white rice is refined. Interested to hear your thoughts!

  3. Kristen says:

    I am in a building phase, what would be the best thing to eat pre and post workout? I work out first thing in the am (6AM) I usually have egg whites with cottage cheese and fruit. Then vans gluten free waffles after.
    Thank you

  4. What’s up Michael, you pretty much clarified what and when to eat carbs on training days. As far as non training days, what’s your input on carb consumption? And thanks again for all the help…

  5. Patricia says:

    for me I just think it’s how your body works. I tried the carb cycling thing and became extremely irregular and uncomfortable so I stopped. Now I just follow a high carb low fat diet (raw vegan) with tons of fruits and veggies (mostly fruits) and I’m seeing the difference in energy and weight loss.

  6. Thanks for this write up. So basically it’s best to eat carbs on your active days in order to get maximum results.

  7. Shawn Gehrmann says:

    Is it possible to lose fat % but at the same time gain weight? I am 39 years old and 185 lbs. I want to gain weight but cut my fat% until I get a 6 pack and much more muscle define. But it’s not working well. I lose weight to fast but can’t gain it back. Can you help?

  8. Antoun Chagoury says:

    For someone who is carb sensitive.. I prefer having rather low carb and high protein breakfast like whole eggs and since I don’t like to mix my macros.. I don’t mix carbs and fats.. so all my meals are protein and fats .. only carb meal is post workout and the meal after that.. what is your take on that ??

  9. Jessica says:

    I am so thankful for the knowledge you share! I am just wondering, if I am on a rest day should I minimize carbs to mornings only? I eliminated carbs from my diet and have incorporated them back in a little because when I cut them out I wasn’t getting the fiber I needed through veggies and protein. Now that I am beginning my workout journey I know I’ll need them for muscle growth but am unsure what to do with them on rest days.

  10. Courtney Edwards says:

    If I want to do carb cycling (1st day: carbs, 2nd days: half carbs, 3rd day: no carbs), how will this new time management schedule work for the no carb day? Sorry, I’m new to this and a little confused.

  11. Sharon Long says:

    Hi Michael
    Great video, can I ask your advice, Im currently working on reduction of Body Fat so trying to eat my carbs around my workouts etc. I have my breakfast at around 7am & workout at 10am, normally only consuming breakfast ensuring adequate carbs, protein & fats, is this advisable, only to eat again around 9am, would be difficult for me??

  12. Is it OK to workout 1st thing in the am….

  13. Virginia says:

    And What if I train at night?? Do I have to eat carbs after Workout as well?, thanks for your help

  14. I workout 6am in the mornings and probably won’t have breakfast (which includes carbs) until 8:30am. Am I at a severe disadvantage seeing as though the key times mentioned above are for persons who workout probably in the afternoon?

  15. jonathan barrett says:

    Are you able to eat carbs at these times even in a carb cycle? I’m counting my macs now with 5-7 meals per day. Should i still eat carbs during those times you suggested above? Please get back to me. Have a blessed day!

  16. This was such an awesomely straightforward way to explain how to safely begin carb-cycling. After extensive research on which carbs are most healthy and which to avoid, I am pretty confident about what to consume when I need to stock up on carbs, however I am still at a loss for which foods to consume when carbs are a no-no…what would you recommend for meals that should be little to no carb??

  17. What about when you want to lose body fat and you work out during the night? Should I eat carbs after my work out or not? Thanks!

  18. Michael says:

    Hey Mike,
    How do you recommend carb timing for someone that trains early in the morning between 5&6 am??

  19. I train very early in the morning, 4:45am, so I can not get 3 carb meals in during the AM hours. How can I implement this for optimum fat loss?

  20. Hi there! So I recently read an article (I believe it was on Bodybuilding.com) that talked about dextrose being the ideal post workout carb to replace glycogen stores. The author’s suggested dextrose source were the Haribo Gummy Bears. I’m not sure the serving size, probably pretty small. Then obviously following it up with protein. Thoughts on this?

  21. Rajathi Noel says:

    if we are working out at 5:30 am, usually not eating anything yet because it is so early. And we have not had our preworkout food either. so what do you suggest for getting enough carbs after our workout/the rest of the day so we are not feeling hungry?

  22. I’ve been carb cycling for four months mixing four days of weights with high carb and low carb on the other three days. I’ve dropped a lot of belly fat, it has been slow but I’m starting to see my abs. My problem is I’m losing size off my legs and arms and am finding it difficult to cut while maintaining muscle. My problem is I bulked for nearly a year and put on two stone but developed a lot of belly fat along with the muscle.

  23. Melissa says:

    How about if you workout in the mornings ( due to time conflicts) and breakfast and preworkout are meal 1 with carbs, then post workout carbs . When in this case do you recommend eating carbs again ? Thank you !!!!! I love all your tips !

  24. Michael says:

    Hey mike, whats your recommendation for carb timing for someone that works out between 5am & 6am?

  25. Kelsie hurst says:

    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all of the information you are constantly giving out. I check all your IG pages everyday and try the HIIT routines and read up on the advice you post. I have a lot of respect for you and your willingness to share the tips and information that you do! Thank you for all that do!!

  26. when does post – workout time start?15 -30 minutes or 1 hour after? And if I have late evening workout- can I still eat carbs right before sleep?

  27. Thr most straightforward way ive seen it explained
    I used to only eat preworkout, now ive been doing post and ii definitely notice a difference in my energy overall and recovery

  28. ALEJANDRO (ARGENTINA) says:

    HI MICHAEL, I AM INTERESTED IN YOUR MEAL PLAN, BUT FIRST I WANT TO KNOW IF SOMEONE OF YOUR CREW SPEAKS SPANISH ?
    also I want to know if after you send me the plan if I can have direct contact with you or someone of your crew to make questions or clear doubts and let you know about my progress and sensation with the plan you make me.
    Finnally, if i purschase the plan, can i send puctures of my body and pictures of the type of body i like?

    Best Regards Michael, you are great!

    • Thanks for reaching out. Currently I don’t have anyone on staff that speaks Spanish. You can always get in contact with us at custommealplans@morellifit.com with questions about your meal plan. You will receive a questionnaire to fill out after purchase that gets us all of the information we need to know to make your plan.

  29. Thank you Michael for the great support. I wanted to ask about the postworkout if i have my protein shake do I still need to add protein food into my postworkout meal in addition to the carbs?

  30. Christian says:

    Michael,
    If I work out in the AM, does this mean I would be consuming all my carbs during that time as well and not later on in the day?

  31. What if I doing your workouts 3days per week, and going for a run twice per week? What days doe I eat carbs?

    • The days you have the most intense workouts would be the days you want to have as high carb days. It will give you the added energy you need to power through your workouts.

  32. Hi michael..im new to ur IG liked what i saw and now am new to ur website…loving all the info…regarding diet though my biggest obstacle is snacks. I tend to not have much to eat so i start out super healthy but end up cheating more often than i should leading to failing which results in gaps in my workouts… im a veggetarian but i dont buy any processed foods frm store… meaning nothing readymade. So please help me with healthy snack ideas that provide me with carbs and protein so i can stay consistent for a longer time like u said…..Thank u so much 🙂

    • Raw veggies and salsa is a great snack…almonds, pistachios as far as nuts are good. Rice cake topped with almond butter and some fruit (blueberries, strawberries) is my spin on PB&J. Try those out 🙂

      • Awesome thanks! How can u convert a kale salad (to which i add olives, grated cheese, celery, and olive oil/apple cider vinegar dressing) into a more wholesome meal? anything u wld add as a side or is this sufficient as a post workout dinner? Thanjs again im becoming more of a fan of all ur awesome exercise routines! 🙂

  33. ALEJANDRO (ARGENTINA) says:

    Michael ! on a diet for gaining LBM if I am cycling carbs, and training 5x week I shouldnt have carbs only the days I am not training’? or I should have one day as my high carb day, the next one have a middle carb day and the third day no carb? even though I will train that day? ( sorry for my bad english)
    thanks a lot! I really appreciate you

  34. I was wondering, you talk about protein for breakfast as well as steel cut oats or Granola. What kind of meals would include enough of both?

  35. I have been on a carb cycling diet for a few weeks now (But its been interrupted by trips almost every single weekend so I basically have to start over every 2 weeks) Still, the first 2 weeks when I did it by the book I saw great results. It is just not realistic for me since I travel so much to be meal prepping 6 meals a day and measuring things and whatnot. I read a few articles on just following your macros and how as long as you follow your macros you will be fine and can still lose weight and get in shape. This seems like a more logical plan for my lifestyle, but I’m scared to go with it and lose all my progress (as compared to carb cycling). In your experience, do you think meeting your macros is just as good a technique, or do you definitely think carb cycling is the way to go?

    • I’ve gotten great results with carb cycling. If you aren’t able to do that then sticking to your macros would be the next best thing…but not IIFYM that terrible. Should be getting your macros from whole food as close to nature as possible. So when you’re out on the go just make sure you are making the absolute best choices possible and you’ll stay on track for your goals.

  36. Nathalie says:

    I plan to work out at 6 in the morning. So if I consume carbs before and after that, dont eat carbs for the rest of the day? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

    • You can try and do your workouts fasted since you workout so early and only eat post workout. See how that goes and if you lack energy then you may want to eat beforehand.

      • Okay, so I go and lift at 4 am in The morning, for 1 hr and a half and I know carbs are a crucial part for fueling the body. I have tried to eat my pre and post carbs! But I just can’t do it with out it making me sick. Due to the fact it’s so early in the morning I can not force myself to eat. So I bought Dextrose and i mix that with my isopure and use that for my pre and post, and then at 8am I eat my oats. Is the dextrose a good liquid carb?

        • Dextrose is glucose, the sugar our bodies use for energy. However, using pre workout can make you crash mid workout since your blood sugar will spike and fall very fast. This is why complex carbs are recommend, they break down slowly and keep blood sugar more stable. Dextrose has benefits post workouts but you don’t need a lot. Since it spikes insulin levels, it cuts the catabolism that occurs from exercise. The best post workout is a meal consisting of complex carbs and protein. I would have the whey 30 min prior to exercise and even BCAA’s during, then food after.

  37. husaini says:

    its ok on rest day i never take any carbs? sorry for my grammar.

  38. I am about to begin body beast so I’ll be working out intensely for 6 days a week…I have 30 plus pounds to lose and would like to do carb cycling to torch it quicker…any suggestions ?

  39. Juliette says:

    What if I wake up at 5am to go to the gym because of my work schedule? Do I eat carbs right before my workout and then carbs for breakfast when I get back home?

    • Juliette you can wait until post workout to eat your carbs. If you see a dip in your energy levels during your workouts then you will want to have a little bit of carbs prior to your workout. Take care.

  40. So I work night shifts and end up eating dinner around 12 am when I get home, and for the large part of my diet I have avoided carbs and tend to eat only proteins at that point. I tend to stay awake about 4 hours after the dinner and would just like to know if a strict no carb diet that late is a must?

  41. Anthony says:

    Hi my question has to do with meal planning. Do you have a video on how to create your own meal plan. For those who can’t afford your custom meal plan. Thanks

    • Anthony…right now I don’t but it’s on my plan of videos to shoot. Stay tuned and follow me on instagram under Morellifit if you don’t already because I’ll put some info there as well.

  42. Samantha says:

    Hi, I have just found you on instagram and was intrigued. It’s great you have free work out videos, I have just watched one and I’ve decided to give it a go for a couple of weeks because I am running out of ideas and have some fat I’d like to loose. Also I read about keeping a food diary which I am going to start as from today because I suffer from bloating a lot. I have skinny arms and legs and a fatter stomach which looks horrible, ive been trying to loose weight by eating healthy but often get it wrong and end up starving and weak or bloated and hopeless! You’ve given me inspiration to keep at it and I look forward to seeing how it goes! Thank you!

  43. Hi Michael thanks for the info and great blog so my question is do i need to eat carbs after my cardio training if my goal is fat l9ss ? I usually eat a scoop of protein and some sweet potato but lately I’ve been gaining some fat along with muscle but I wanna cut down but like u said never sacrifice muscke for fat thanks for your help

    • Sorry I forgot to mention I’m currently doing p90x I don’t know if their cardio is intense enaugh to eat carbs afterwords

    • Switch it up for a few weeks and just make sure you’re getting in your protein post workout and have your carbs earlier in the day. Track your progress this way. Thanks for reaching out.

  44. Michael,
    What is your view on rolled oats? I know oatmeal is a great source of carbs but are rolled a less quality source than steel cut?
    Thanks,
    Sophia

  45. Hey Michael! Question for you…..I’m 31, and the past year have put on 7-10lbs (mostly due to work travel combined with a back injury, which prevented me for working out for quite some time) that I can’t seem to lose. I do work out about 4x per week, and think I eat pretty healthily, but I’m also a vegetarian and recognize that that could mean my macros are off. Do you write meal plans for vegetarians?

  46. Hi Michael,
    Where do snacks like Hummus and feta cheese fall when it comes to the program and the diet we should be following? I’ve previously heard mixed things about both but thought I would get your opinion. If they are “good” carbs, when is a good time to consume them (pre-workout, as an afternoon snack, etc)?

    Thanks in advance and look forward to getting back in shape!

    Regards

    Salman

    • Those are ok snacks but there are ones that I would put above those like almonds, hard boiled eggs and some Jerky. I try to stay away from dairy as often as possible. Hummus is ok but I’d keep it in moderation not a go to snack every day.

  47. Hey Michael,
    So I just watched the top 3 times to take in protein and carbs. I would like to know if that type of plan/structure would work with the times I work out? My wife and I can only workout at night and most of the time its late at night because we have kids and no one to watch them so we have to alternate each time we go.

    • Hey Sam,

      Yes it will work for your case, you just have to make sure you’re putting the right carbs in your body at night so you have nothing to worry about. Watch my video good carbs vs bad carbs, this way you’ll know which ones to eat and which ones to stay away from.

  48. I am new to carb cycling. I have a personal trainer now. Who is giving me a cal def meal plan. Been on it for 5 months now. Getting harder to stay so strict. I want to eat more food. Not bad food. Just more of it. I am afraid I will gain weight back. I still have 20 lbs to go. What is your recommendation.

    • Danielle,

      That’s a long time to be on the same diet. Let us set you up a meal plan where I guarantee you’ll be eating more and still get results. Our carb cycling meal plans are amazing and catered specifically to each individual. Check them out at custommealplans.co

  49. Hello, I recently did a whole30 and was very successful on it but knew I could not make it a lifestyle. (Love potatoes and pasta too much) I want to try carb cycling to get leaner. I could stand to lose 10 to 15 lbs. I workout early morning 5am and do so fasted. I have found that I do better when I workout this way. I do want to do carb cycling but don’t know if I should carb load at night. I do speed runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a long run on Sunday. I do some form of circuit training with Saturday off.

    • Michael Morelli says:

      Hi Panda75, it sounds like you have all the fundamentals laid out. The plan will guide you for you High Carb, Medium Carb and Low Carb days and you fit them according to your schedule. Now if you like potatoes and pasta, state that in your plan so we know when its best to insert these foods for ya! Hope that helps. Visit morellifit.com/custom-mean-plan and enter code “Michael” @checkout, get 50% off when you’re ready 🙂

  50. Disagree with some of the info here. Carbs in the morning? That is now outdated and whilst it may seem logical (being more insulin sensitive), you are in effect switching off the potential to burn body fat. The Keto diet has and is proving this. I think carb cycling is a great tool but I would prefer to carb-backload. I think an issue which needs to be addressed is the combining of fats and carbs on the same day! Increasing studies are showing the health risks of eating these two macros at the same time but I cannot find data which confirms what is a safe time in between eating these 2 macros. I think higher fat and protein in the 1st half of the day and then switch to leaner protein if you want the carbs in the evening.

    • Michael Morelli says:

      Hi Mike, thank you commenting. To answer your question yes Carbs in the morning. Here’s the key though, its what carbs are best to consume in the morning. 9/10 I am always having sweet potato’s, nutrient dense and won’t spike your insulin like the other carbs would (donuts, processed oatmeal, etc) . When carbs are low, healthy fats are adjusted slightly above maintenance for energy, if needed. Hope this helps!

  51. Sammitchez says:

    This is a simply written article that is easy to understand for the for the layman. It will be easy to follow and will help out a bunch of beginners, I’m sure of it. However, you’re a professional man. You have to get an editor on your pieces. It takes a lot a way from the article when it is sprinkled with careless spelling and grammar errors. Overall good work though.

    • Michael Morelli says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read, auto-correct won’t catch everything. And I appreciate your feedback 🙂

  52. I don’t get how I can eat pizza after reading this article

    • Michael Morelli says:

      Hi Tiana, thank you for commenting. I’m sorry you didn’t understand, let me briefly explain. People set so many boundaries when committing to a diet; for example eliminating pizza from their diet. 9/10 its a great choice but that often leads to binging when they get a chance. You can still enjoy a pizza when your goal is fat loss. The road block is most people don’t know when to consume it, how much to consume, and what kind of pizza to consume. We lay all that out for you in our Custom Meal Plan service, and we have a signature Paleo Pizza recipe. It boils down to the timing and ingredients. Hope that clears up a little 🙂

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