Carbs: Proper Timing Is Everything

Carbs! Hot topic, right? There are all sorts of rumours, perceptions, tips and tricks floating around out there in this world of health and wellness regarding this single group of food sources. And I certainly cannot dispel, correct or answer them all in one blog post today. However, we can tackle one crucial element of carb consumption: Timing!


And that begs the question: When are you eating your carbs?

Before you answer, let’s quickly discuss the purpose of carbs in our nutritional strategy. They are, in fact, necessary. At their basic level, carbs are our source for fuel. They provide the energy by which we are able to function effectively. Yet, these stealthy components of our nutrition can be our enemy as well as friend. Trouble enters the scene when carbs are consumed and not used: a common issue in a modern lifestyle. Why? Sedentary lifestyles. But instrumental is the fact that carbs are readily available, relatively cheap and convenient food sources. That means they have become a major, in many cases the primary, element of nutrition. They are also addictive. When refined as so many are today, they are like sugar or any other drug. Your body demands more, more, and then more. Problem is more is never used!

When those carbs, remember they are your fuel supply, are not used they are stored. Yep, right on your hips, thighs, bum and belly. I know, it’s not pretty but it is truth. Your body is not the culprit though. It’s just doing its job of self preservation; doing what it was designed to do for survival. But this is the modern world and your food supply is not limited. Your survival is not in jeopardy from starvation. Most of us can eat whatever we want whenever we want. So then, what is the culprit? You are eating carbs at all the wrong times.

Eat carbs when you need fuel!

Simple right? It really is when you stop to think about it. So, when are you active? The answer determines when you eat your carbs for the day. Here are 3 basic guidelines.

1. In the Morning

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it is true. You have been in fasting mode all night, you have the whole day ahead and you need fuel. Now is the time for some quality complex carbs (examples:sweet potato, winter squash, whole grains) ! Eat hearty with a balance of lean protein (examples:egg whites, chicken, fish, turkey, beef tenderloin) and quality fats but eat up!

2. Pre-workout

You are about to tax your bodies resources. This is not the time to starve it especially of its fuel supply. Eat a hearty helping of clean, quality carbs, again balanced with proteins and fats an hour before hitting the gym!

3. Post Workout

This guideline has 2 rules. IF your workout is cardio intensive, then wait one full hour before eating. Drink plenty of water but no food. Not one bite. Why? Your body continues to burn fat during that window of time. Food stops that process instantly. However, IF your workout is resistance based, then you need to eat immediately after as the body needs to refuel and recover. The same guidelines apply of complex carbs, lean protein and quality fats.

We can talk more in future posts about the differences in refined, simple and quality, complex carbs. For now though, know that there is no need and it certainly is not healthy to run away from carbs. Simply be mindful of timing and be assured your body will be much happier for it! Plus, you’ll like what you see in the mirror a bit better too! :)

Has this helped you, given you some relief from the worry of carbs and their negative impacts on the body of your dreams? Let us know in the comments below!

Carl Mason- Liebenberg is a Wellness and Weight Loss Specialist, Author, Fitness Coach, and a Leader in Creating a Lifestyle of Wellness.
His passion is for those who suffer from poor nutrition, related illnesses, addictions and overweight conditions; with a specific focus on women. Carl unveils the power of nutrition and fitness to bring recovery, healing, restoration and strength.
Carl has personally experienced what he teaches and continues to study and learn to improve his ability to teach you a Lifestyle of Wellness.
He has recently launched the Ultimate 30 Day Body Reset that you’ll want to be sure to obtain in your journey to authentic wellness. For more information and opportunities please join him at

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  1. Usually, I try to drink weight gainer right after the workout to refuel my muscle and help with recovery. Anyway, awesome article, Carl!
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  2. Hi Carl, you spoke of proper timing to eat carbohydrates and which type should be eaten. At night, what could be adviced? We eat mostly fruits for dinner and we cut out eating rice at lunch.

    May I know your references for this post? Thanks.

    • Carl Mason-Liebenberg


      If you are eating carbs at night the should be complex carbs like whole grains, sweet potato, winter squash. But, they should be limiited portions and paired with a lean protein and fresh veggies.

      As to my references, I assume you mean where I found the information? I did not use any references for this article. I know this information from years of personal experience, personal and professional application and professional study!

      Hope this helps!
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  3. Adrienne

    Hi Carl,

    Okay, I confess… I probably don’t eat all that great but I’m still pretty healthy. I do eat sandwiches everyday but I eat wheat bread. I don’t workout at all but I walk every single day, in the evenings.

    My dinners mostly consist of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners, they’re just so much easier because I don’t like cooking for myself. When I eat meat it’s only chicken breasts.

    I believe overall though I’m doing pretty good. I’m not a big eater and I do watch what I eat to keep my weight down. I’ve always heard about eating carbs at certain times of the day so thanks for sharing this with us. Great information I know!

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    • Carl Mason-Liebenberg

      Sounds like you are aware of your weight and keeping that in line. You are consciously active and making some great choices.

      The Lean Cuisine, is not ideal for nutritional benefit so if you could find options that are simple for you to prepare fresh, you would gain better nutritional value! Just a suggestion for your wellness!

      Glad you enjoyed the post and that you shared your journey with us!!
      Have fantastic day!
      Carl Mason-Liebenberg recently posted..Vegans, carnivores and paleos – can’t we all just get along?My Profile

  4. What if your workout is resistance and cardio based?
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  5. I do all these things but still am not losing any weight, I guess it’s because of my Hypothyroidism and due to Menopause. Can you recommend some diet for people suffering from these two ailments? Liked the tips about proper timing of Carb eating.

  6. I so needed to read this article! I’ve been struggling with reaching my weight loss goals, totally perplexed why all my efforts seem to be bearing minimal fruit. I’m going to use these tips, hopefully they will help a bit! :)
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  7. I knew you were supposed to wait half an hour after eating before getting in the pool, but had no idea that you should wait an hour to eat after cardio! Will be sure to keep that in mind. I’ve always heard carbs before a work-out, protein after. And fruits and veggies all the time.
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  8. This is very helpful information. Thank you! I do like my carbs. I eat a very good granola in the morning, but often omit the protein, which I pick up usually in my second breakfast mid morning. (I’ve always thought I might be a hobbit with my love for multiple breakfasts!)
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  9. Thank you Carl for this illuminating post. I will keep it in mind every time I want to overeat!!!
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  10. Elizabeth Young says:

    Point taken Corinne!
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  11. Great post! I think I’m on the right track. I find myself doing some of these things already. But… If I’m being honest, sometimes I don’t wait an hour to eat after my workout. Sometimes I’m starving so I may have a piece of fruit. I will try to refrain though. Thanks for this informative piece!
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  12. Great info here, Carl! I usually will eat whole grain cereal with fruit (and milk) before working out. Since I do a cardio routine, I’m so glad to know about waiting the hour after before I eat. Very helpful!
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  13. Thanks for this advice and information Carl. I especially need reminders about breakfast. I tend to drink coffee, which makes me feel full, then I skip eating. Not good I know. Your post is very clear and really helps me to understand the purpose of carbs, now if only I can reduce my intake. I think I consume it at the wrong times when I’m sedentary rather than before exercise. I’ll try and do better. Thanks again Carl.
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  14. Love your blog Corinne.

    Beautiful post by Carl. Its always good to monitor our carb intake. I get really hungry after my workouts and it was good to know that not eating for one after workout keeps the body in fat burning mode.

    Thanks for this post.

  15. Interesting post!

    Yes indeed, carbohydrates are so essential, just as all the other vitamins and minerals that our body needs. And I think we need a well maintained balanced diet to really get through the day too.

    Breakfast is the time when you should eat more of your carbs as you have the rest of the day to burn them out, which ensures that you don’t put on weight! Similarly, as you rightly mentioned to have them pre and post workout, if you are working out. But for those who are doing light exercises or walking etc., it makes sense to eat your carbs accordingly.

    Also, whenever we have our lunch or dinner, we need to make sure to maintain a balance by eating a little of everything, though lesser of the carbs that time. And yes, if they are not burned out well enough they convert to fat I think, that being the reason that we put on weight at the wrong places – isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing. :)
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    • Carl Mason-Liebenberg

      You have a good handle on this subject! And yes, to answer your question, that is why much of our weight gain ccurs. We simply do not use our energy stores. Carbs are our fuel supply and so we must eat them for theat purpose! Often, it becomes an eat this and not that discussion which is true in cases of processed, refined, prepared foods but realy it is about learning WHY we eat what we do so we eat properly. I think if we understand the why a bit better, we will tend to make better choices overall!
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  16. gayatri . lifeunordinary says:

    well written Corinne. If only I didn’t love rice so much, life would be easier:)

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