How to Distribute Carbohydrates Correctly - Step To Health

How to Distribute Carbohydrates Correctly

Distributing carbohydrates well doesn't mean no longer consuming them. After all, they are essential nutrients that offer energy to our bodies. Learn more in this article!
How to Distribute Carbohydrates Correctly

Last update: 12 June, 2020

Knowing how to distribute carbohydrates correctly is fundamental when it comes to not gaining weight. The saying “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” is a popular way to remember how we should distribute our food through the day.

Juan Antonio Madrid, professor at the University of Murcia, affirms that to lose weight and adopt a healthy and balanced diet, it’s important to control the types of foods we eat and the amounts. But that’s not enough. We must also pay careful attention to when we eat them.

How to distribute carbohydrates correctly

Sources of carbohydrates.
Within the realm of macronutrients, carbohydrates are our body’s main source of energy, making up 50% of our total daily nutrients.

The moment of the day or night when we eat influences how our bodies will take advantage of and metabolize it. On the one hand, our appetite changes over the day and night, according to circadian rhythms.

However, these rhythms are progressive, meaning our bodies don’t reset at a specific time and convert unused carbohydrates into fat. For example, the carbohydrates we eat at dinner replenish the glycogen we expend during the day in our daily activities.

This is true as long as we practice some sort of physical activity during the day and haven’t replenished it later with other foods. If we eat en excessive amount of carbohydrates and our reserves are half full, we store too much fat. This is regardless of whether or not we eat them at night.

Therefore, it’s very important to know how to distribute our carbohydrates correctly.

At breakfast, we should prioritize the intake of carbohydrates

During the day, there are two well-differentiated phases: Activation and recovery. Both are defined by sunlight and last approximately 12 hours each.

A healthy oatmeal breakfast.
Our energy expenditure varies throughout the day, which requires a nutrient consumption that adapts to each moment.

Ruben Bravo, a nutrition expert, and spokesperson for the European Medical Institute of Obesity (IMEO) affirms that it’s best to eat carbohydrates in the morning. This is a matter of energy demand since carbs provide more energy–and faster–than fats and proteins.

What’s more, he states that these carbohydrates should be elaborated from whole grains. For example:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Whole grain cereals

At the same time, experts recommend that, rather than focusing on how to distribute carbohydrates correctly, it’s best to consider each individual’s unique situation.

Mid-morning and afternoon snacks

Besides breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we should also adapt what we eat when we snack between meals.

If you snack in the morning, a good way to spread out your carbohydrates correctly would be by eating fruit and yogurt, for example. This contains carbohydrates and proteins, which mitigates the sudden increase of insulin from the boost of sugar in the fruit.

Distributing carbohydrates correctly when it comes to physical activity

Sports and nutrition.

When it comes to physical exercise, nutrition should be different before, during, and after.

When it comes to doing sports, and even while performing physical exercise, it’s good to consume elements that offer carbohydrates with a good glycemic index. The Glycemic index refers to the intensity with which carbohydrates raise blood sugar.

However, you should do this 30 minutes before you begin to train. Some foods that contain carbohydrates with a good glycemic index are fruit, oatmeal, and quinoa… among others.

At the same time, once the physical activity is over, then you should consume proteins to facilitate muscle recovery.

After 6 pm, no more simple carbohydrates

Avoid eating carbohydrates after 6 p.m. is a fundamental part of spreading out carbohydrates correctly. At this point in the day, your body goes into the recovery phase that we mentioned above.

After 6 pm, it’s better to consume proteins and fats, which are nutrients that encourage cellular recovery.

For example, you can eat yogurt with nuts as a snack and then eat oily fish or lean meat for dinner. For example, chicken or turkey are great options. Accompanying these means with a small portion of complex carbohydrates isn’t a bad idea.

However, you should avoid eating simple carbohydratessince your body will quickly turn them into fat.


Distributing carbohydrates correctly doesn’t mean giving them up. These are essential nutrients that provide the body with energy. Therefore, experts suggest increasing your intake in the morning and reducing intake at night. Finally, remember that you should avoid simple carbohydrates, like those you find in industrial baked goods.

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