There’s a plethora of weight loss advice out there, with some diet plans limiting certain food groups such as carbohydrates. However, dietitian Sian Porter has told the NHS: “Carbohydrates are such a broad category and people need to know that not all carbs are the same. It’s the type, quality and quantity of carbohydrate in our diet that is important. While we should reduce the amount of free sugar in our diet, we should base our meals on starchy carbs, particularly the higher fibre varieties.”
Elliot Upton, a leading personal trainer at Ultimate Performance, has also decided to debunk some myths about food groups.
In particular, his focus was on carbohydrates.
Sharing his top tips with Express.co.uk, he explained that there is one particular food group which is important to prioritise in order to get rid of excess fat – and that’s protein.
“When planning a body transformation diet, always prioritise protein intake first,” he advised.
“Allotting enough protein at each meal, then following the principles below, allot your remaining calories appropriately between carbs and fats based on personal preference.”
So when is the optimum time to tuck into carbs?
According to Elliot, it’s after exercising – and ahead of bedtime.
“The best times for eating carbs we find are post-workout (when you are most insulin sensitive and your body is most likely to utilise that glucose properly and refuel the muscle and recovery) and in the evening, to aid with relaxation and sleep,” he said.
Elliot also advised sticking to protein and healthy fats in the morning – as opposed to carb-heavy breakfasts.
“You should swap carb-based breakfasts for breakfasts rich in protein and healthy fats, like salmon and eggs,” he said.
“These are satiating and promote stable blood sugar and better mental and physical energy, so you won’t get the same mid-morning slump and hunger cravings.”
For the personal trainer, it’s later in the day when tucking into carbs could be a good idea.
“Most people struggle with food cravings later in the day when they are getting home from work and sitting in front of the TV, so saving your carbs until the evening (called ‘carb backloading’) can be a beneficial way for most people to work around this,” he shared.
“The latest science shows you can still eat carbs and lose weight, so long as you’re in a calorie (energy) deficit.
“Research (and our experience with clients) shows that so long as protein intake is sufficient throughout the day, any ratio of carbs to fats will work for weight loss, so long as a calorie deficit is in place.
“Along the same lines, the myth that you don’t burn off anything you eat after 5pm has long-since been debunked.
“Losing or gaining weight ultimately comes down to energy balance over the day and week.”
Elliot advised eating carbs after 5pm, adding: “Carbs help with the production of serotonin – the relaxing hormone – and calming the central nervous system which will improve your sleep quality.
“The relationship between sleep, weight loss and appetite management is one long documented by science.
“You should avoid carbs for breakfast for the same reason.
“The morning, when you are gearing up for work and a busy day, is not the time when you want to increase the production of serotonin.
“Carbs first thing in the day for most people are likely to give them the classic mid-morning energy slump. People are then likely to turn to coffee and sugar as a pick-me-up and then the cycle of energy spikes and crashes will continue.”
Another word of advice from Elliot is that the leaner a person is, or the greater their lean muscle mass, the more carbs they can “handle”.
He added that it means “the more effective your body will be at nutrient partitioning and sending the fuel to the right places, rather than simply storing it as fat”.