Reader’s Request: Carbs and Eating Before Bed

Hi guys! Hope your day is going well <3

I get a lot of the following types of questions on my Formspring page:

Is it really that terrible to eat before bed? Are there certain things you can eat without consequences? 🙂 Like…fruit etc.
are white potatoes also the bad kind of white carbs?

And just saw this one in the comments section:

Hi Gina

Thanks for the chia pudding yesterday!

Just curious, do you not have grains with your dinner in the evening for a specific reason? I noticed you usually don’t have brown rice, even at your habachi restaurant, but I thought brown rice was a healthy choice. Is it because you often have oats during the day and try to limit your carb intake? Thanks for answering

So I figured it was time for a reader’s request post about carbs and eating before bed.

Dark Bread Riser  (source)

I love carbs. I love to eat in general, but nothing is more satisfying to me than some kind of starchy, carb-y goodness.

Carbs are our bodies’ primary fuel source and we need them to be active, nourished and thriving.

There is NO such thing as “good carbs” and “bad carbs”. I despise that negative connotation with food and the “forbidden” attitudes that go along with certain types of food. You really can eat whatever you want. The only thing is that it’s a great idea to get a balance of all of the food groups and as long as you’re not stuffing your face with the bread basket and depriving your body of veggies at every meal, you’re doing ok 🙂

So while there are no “good carbs” and “bad carbs”, some types of starchy foods are nutritionally superior to others, which are the ones I try to aim for as fuel:

-100% whole wheat bread/pita/pasta (Hodgson’s Mill and Ezekiel products are great)
    -sweet potatoes and other starchy veggies like peas, corn, squash
    -whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, wheat berries, oats
    – beans and legumes
    -fruit (raw, canned in its own juice, dried with NO added sugar)
    -all veggies (avoiding white potatoes, as I prefer sweet potatoes instead)

Those are my “most of the time” carbs, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy some of the un-healthier (but delicious!) stuff every so often (hello, Girl Scout cookies).


The samoas are in the freezer until Lent is over 😉

As far as eating before bed and carbs at night, here’s how I usually roll:

-I prefer to have less starch at night, as there’s really no reason to have a lot of carb fuel for a giant snooze fest 🙂 Going to bed with a belly full of food (any type of food) is uncomfortable for me, and I like to be ready for breakfast in the morning instead of stuffed from the night before (I LOVE breakfast!). We usually have dinner around 6 or 7, but some nights are much later, so I’ll have a snack before I teach and “real dinner” when I get home.

-If I know I’m going to have a starchy meal at night, (like the sweet potato chili and cornbread we had the other evening), I’ll have less starches for lunch (like a giant salad beast with goat cheese and veggies), as I try to get a balance of everything

-If I get snacky at night, I’ll have something light (like fruit, popcorn, veggies and hummus, or half a bar) so that I don’t go to bed with a growling tummy

That is how it *usually* goes down over here, but there are always exceptions. Sometimes I want starches with all of my meals, sometimes I don’t want as many, sometimes I want chocolate before bed (and eat it). My body does a great job of telling me what it wants, and I listen 😀 The point is to honor your body and fuel it the way you see *fit*.

*Just because a silly blogger does something a certain way does NOT mean that you need to follow suit- roll how you want to roll, and fuel your body with an abundance of deliciousness 😀

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again:

EAT. Eat often. Eat until you’re perfectly content and eat well.

To echo my friend Gena’s eloquent post, I love to eat. And… I have a deep unending love for carbs 😀

So tell me friends, what is your all-time favorite meal???

I think we all know what mine is 🙂



I’m off to work! See ya this afternoon 😀



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  1. Kilee on February 25, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I agree with everything that you mentioned. Everything is moderation. I find that eating small meals throughout the day keeps my blood sugar even and that a mix of carbs/protein/fats keeps me happy. I also believe in listening to your body because it knows what you need more than you “think” you do 😉 Have a great day!

  2. Christie @ Honoring Health on February 25, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Awesome post! I also prefer to eat lighter in the evenings, I think I sleep better and I also like to wake up ready for breakfast. I typically only eat grains once per day but sometimes twice, like yesterday, when I really wanted brown rice pasta at dinner time.

  3. skinnyrunner on February 25, 2010 at 10:31 am

    A cobb salad with lots of black olives and avocado. with a side of fries. what??

  4. Retta @ RunRettaRun on February 25, 2010 at 10:32 am

    My fave meal would have to be my mom’s fried rice or stir fry. BOMB-DIGGITY. :0) Have a great day!

  5. Andrea W on February 25, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Do you have a recipe for that amazing looking dish?!

  6. Andrea W on February 25, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Oh, and my favorite meal is homemade ratatouille with a fresh baguette and a bottle of red wine 🙂

  7. Jessica @ How Sweet on February 25, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I eat food when I want, how I want! Even during training, I eat lots of stuff before bed, some of my last meals occuring at 11-12 a night. Its all calories! I seriously don’t think I can pick a favorite meal. Something with cheese or bacon. 🙂

  8. Lisa on February 25, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I have too many favorite meals; probably seafood and veggies on the grill, but I love italian, mexican, and chinese. When is Passage 2 India reopening; I saw the lights on in there yesterday?

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 10:52 am

      you did?!? YES!!!!!! i’ll call to see if they answer 🙂

      • Lisa on February 25, 2010 at 10:53 am

        Unless they were in there working; I couldn’t tell if it was open.

  9. Ellen on February 25, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Mmm, indian food. I rarely eat it, but it is SO yummy. I have no idea what my favorite meal is—it’s too hard to choose! I had a beef stew with wheat noodles at a Japanese restaurant the other night, and it was so so good…especially during the winter. I’ve been craving it ever since!

    You seem to have a very balanced way of eating. I read Bethenny Frankel’s book, Naturally Thin, and she really emphasized balanced eating (if you have carbs for breakfast, try to load up on veggies and protein for lunch, etc). And like you, she also encouraged really tuning into what you REALLY want to eat at the time. (Within reason of course). The only problem I have with that is that is causes me to really think about food too much, and for some reason, the more I’m thinking about food, the more I eat. I don’t know why? Ohh well, I’m sure I’ll figure it out one day!

  10. Jenn @ Livewellfit on February 25, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Oh my favorite food is so simple but so delish in my book: peanut butter sandwich

    Carbs + PB = Love in my book!

    I really appreciate how you distinguish that there aren’t good vs bad carbs but there are more superior ones. One of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself was remove all labels on food. Rather than view food as I should or shouldn’t…I try to pay attention to my body, what is is asking for and then I respond. I listen to what it is telling me and that is my guide in how I respond. 🙂

  11. Lauren @ BIOCHEMISTA on February 25, 2010 at 10:56 am

    GREAT post Gina!!! Thanks 🙂 🙂

    I totally agree that balance is key. I think it’s completely redic when people eliminate one whole food group to lose weight (i.e. all carbs, all fat, etc.). Yeah you’ll lose weight because you’re cutting out calories from an entire food group you used to eat, but a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

    From a scientist perspective, a small meal of carbohydrates before bed (ex: a cup of cereal) causes the brain to release serotonin (a neurotransmitter) allowing one to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. Just another pro for the carb debate 😉

    Have a great day and pleeeease post about that pole dancing workout you did! 🙂


    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 11:35 am

      bahaha i’m not sure i’m going to post about it, just for fear of the negative nancies out there, but i will tell you i LOVED it. and i have bruises all over my body. and i’m going back tomorrow

  12. Katie @ Health for the Whole Self on February 25, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I love that you really push the message of listening to our bodies. Honestly, I think that so many of us struggle to REALLY TRULY trust our bodies because society doesn’t teach us to do that. Instead, society teaches us to follow some prescribed diet. And as someone who has struggled with disordered eating thoughts and behaviors, I know that trusting our bodies to tell us what they need can be challenging and even scary. But it’s totally worth it!

  13. Lauren @ BIOCHEMISTA on February 25, 2010 at 10:59 am

    My favorite meal of all time (currently) would be me and my roomie’s (self-titled) “MAGIC SOUP” 🙂

  14. morgan on February 25, 2010 at 10:59 am

    we have the same favorite meal. it’s been TOO LONG since I’ve eaten at my fav Indian restaurant(s). thatisall… 🙂

  15. Diana (Soap & Chocolate) on February 25, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I’m so sorry you are having to endure a closed Indian resto right now. 🙁 Must be torture!

    I love to eat too, ma’am! And I don’t think I could hide it if I tried. 🙂 Even when I eat salads (which I do love honestly), I can’t pull off the dainty lady eating rabbit food routine. More like herbivoric (is that a word?) dinosaur with cheeks full of greens and balsamic up the nose. 😉

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 11:34 am

      hahaha for real

  16. Lizzie on February 25, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Hi, visiting your site for the first time–it looks great!

    Your point about carbs before bed caught my attention however, and I had to comment:

    I’ve read (annoyingly, I can’t remember where) that eating carbs before going to bed inhibit the production of human growth hormone during sleep. HGH is important for staying young, a good metabolism, and so forth. So inhibiting it is best avoided. So carbs are not evil per se, but fewer before bed is a good idea!

  17. Mara @ What's For Dinner? on February 25, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Girl, I had the BEST Baigan Bartha ever the other day. Seriously, I could’ve eaten a huge vat of it and kept going… COME VISIT!!!!!! It came with baby naan and tikka masala sauce, and adam’s channa paneer was to die for. Have I convinced you yet?

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 11:33 am

      yes, you have me convinced.. i’ll check out plane tix 🙂

  18. Melissa (MelissaLikesToEat) on February 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

    You’re totally right….listen to your body…it will tell you what it needs. I really believe in everything in moderation.
    That aside…my all time favorite meal has to be a steak dinner at Ruths Chris with all the fixins including the lava cake at the end. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

      LAVA CAKE!
      yes please

  19. Kristina @ MendonPondMusings on February 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I love this part of the post: “So while there are no “good carbs” and “bad carbs”, some types of starchy foods are nutritionally superior to others…” I HATE when people talk about good and bad carbs or any kind of food for that matter. Some food is nutritionally superior to others that is it! I recently was reading about glycemic index and the “diet” was saying that I couldn’t get bananas or dates because their GI# was too high. Seriously…it’s all about balance! There is no reason to cut something completely out of your diet unless you want to for the right reasons or you have to for an illness (i.e. diabetes). I have started to limit my dairy and egg intake because I feel better not eating it – dairy makes me bloated and eggs I am just finding a bit funky right now. It’s all about balance!

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

      amen girl 🙂

  20. Sarah on February 25, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I love Indian food! But I think my favorite meal right now is falafel with sweet potato fries 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your eats with us. It’s always good to get a perspective on what other healthy ladies are doing but I agree that it is important to find out what works best for you and your body.

  21. Sarah Ikegami on February 25, 2010 at 11:30 am

    AMAZING POST! I love that you eat based on how YOU feel, not what the trends on food blogs are. You KNOW your body and how to nurture it, love it!
    I think Indian food is some of the best food, ever…it’s SO GOOD!

  22. Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg on February 25, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Great post!! Thanks for the reminder that there are no fixed “rules” when it comes to eating and hunger cues.

    Mmmmmm…I don’t know if I could ever even CHOOSE my absolute favorite meal! But a good plate of pasta would be up there at the top!

  23. amy free on February 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Thank YOU for such a healthy, balanced perspective. You have such an awesome platform with your blog, thank you for not abusing it with incorrect or misleading information! You rock!

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm

      thank you, and thanks for reading my little blog 🙂

  24. s on February 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

    ahhh, i did the whole supersets workout today and it kicked my butt! (in a good way, i think)

    i love that you allow samoas into your raw/vegetarian-ish eating habits. it’s no fun to entirely deprive oneself of foods that he/she likes.

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm

      i’m glad you liked the workout!!
      samoas… are soooooo delicious 🙂

  25. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman on February 25, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I love that. I don’t think of any carbs as off limits, but I do try to mostly eat whole grains. If I’m out at a restaurant that doesn’t have whole wheat whatever, then I don’t sweat it. As for eating carbs late-night? Guilty. It’s the desserts that kill me. My favorite meal is a giant salad. If my husband was on board with it, I’d eat one for dinner every night. Maybe with pizza sometimes.

  26. LEM on February 25, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I love mexican food, mostly frijoles, and here in my house we make “refried” beans with no fat, just blended then cooked again in a pan with onion ,salt and pepper…I’ll have my beans with lunch and with dinner! sometimes with breakfast….I just love them so much!!

  27. Kristilyn (My 29th Year) on February 25, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Everything in moderation is key. The only thing I can think of to say is that if you choose to have fruit before bed – especially something acidic – make sure you brush your teeth afterwards! The acid can really eat at your enamel.

    I’ve had the odd time where I’ve gone to bed and have woken up STARVING in the night! That’s usually when I have a little serving of Kashi crackers to tame my hunger since it’s very hard to sleep when that’s all you can think of!


    PS – I tried nutritional yeast for the first time yesterday and loved it!

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm

      i’m so glad you liked it! 🙂

  28. Allison @ Food For Healing on February 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I LOVE alot of food, so its hard for me to say. But I do LOVE chinese food, but rarely eat it because its got over a bazillion calories per serving in it.

  29. Abby on February 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I love this: EAT. Eat often. Eat until you’re perfectly content and eat well.

    Words to live by!

  30. Kim on February 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I’ve tried to keep lower on the carbs at night, but find it terribly difficult. Work in progress, I suppose.

    My favorite meal is probably pizza. Pepperoni. From the place up the street. Yum!

  31. Stefania on February 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Totally agree. Further to your point about eating before bed is that it can disrupt sleep and proper digestion (fruit or a light snack not so much). It can throw your body’s cycle off.

  32. Leanne on February 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Gina I love this post!! My favorite meal is SUSHI–hands down.

  33. Lisa on February 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Gina: I just saw your chocolate pudding recipe on ohsheglows. Is it really that good? Can it be made dark chocolate?

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm

      it is very good! as yes, just add more cocoa powder 🙂

  34. Allison on February 25, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    that baigan looks DELICIOUS! ah, the glory of eggplant 😉

    my favorite meal (that i make at home) is my ultimate guilty pleasure: vegan nachos! i try to “health them up” a little bit, but they are just too tasty to resist!

  35. Megan @ Healthy Hoggin' on February 25, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Amen! I’m so sick of hearing about good carbs/bad carbs! I love my carbs, and I just try to pick the most nutritionally dense ones. Yum!

    I don’t know if I can pick one favorite meal! I love to eat, too! Anything with goat cheese is usually my favorite… 😉

  36. Mama Pea on February 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I am most definitely the same way. I like waking up a little hungry and I hate trying to fall asleep with a food baby. But everyone has to find what works for them and I completely respect that!

    Favorite meal ever: hot pita bread, fresh tangy hummus, salty olives and red wine!!!

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm

      that meal sounds like HEAVEN

  37. Heather (Heather's Dish) on February 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    great post Gina! i do love my carbs, and i usually do eat a lot of them at night…oops 🙂 p.s. i almost died when I saw your pudding on Oh She Glows. I will be making that soon!

  38. Jessica @ Fit and Clean on February 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve never had Indian food. I would love to try it though, your pics always look so fantastic! I don’t think there’s a restaurant around me, though, because I live in the sticks 🙁 I think eating is a complete learning process. I agree with you, also, that what works for one person may or may not work for someone else. It’s like trainers who train all their clients the same way and on the same machine. Ugh.

  39. Karyn on February 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    i agree 100% with this post! carbs are great, although i tend to really only enjoy bread-y carbs, lots of rolls and thick bread for this chica 🙂

    and caramel delights. and shortbreads. thank god my sister is a girl scout haha

  40. Sara on February 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    You said it perfectly Gina, “EAT. Eat often. Eat until you’re perfectly content and eat well”. Rock on woman!

  41. Katie on February 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    This is a great post!

    Oh gosh, I have SOO many favorite meals. I do love (but don’t often indulge in) Lobster Pizza from Red Lobster. And I love apps and dessert at The Melting Pot. Ooooh and I recently had one of my top 5 favorites at a little French restaurant: cheesy polenta with white wine and scallops. I just recently recreated the polenta without cows dairy. So yummy!

  42. Ian on February 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Can I just amen you and Gena (and can I get an amen for myself) for loving food and loving to eat it!?

  43. Elizabeth on February 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    spaghetti – maybe not the healthiest meal but gosh, it’s so good!

  44. Jess - The Domestic Vegan on February 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Ooh, your favorite meal looks AMAZING. I seriously could NOT choose one favorite meal, but I certainly love to eat. LOVE to eat. (Caps are necessary.)

    I love your healthy approach to food. Like you, I try not to think in terms of “good” & “bad,” and instead focus on fueling my body with the healthiest things I can! If I want a treat, I’m going to have a treat – and try to balance it out later. No need to fret over the occasional indulgences!

  45. Naomi (onefitfoodie) on February 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    great answer 🙂

    I dont knwo what I would do without carbs, seriously they just put a smile on my face 🙂

    my favorite meal would be PIZZAAAAA!!!

  46. Erin M. on February 25, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Seriously, you’re AWESOME. this post rocked. Thanks so much for helping us all be a little bit healthier 🙂

  47. Paige (Running Around Normal) on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Ahh Girl Scout cookies! My weakness! Samoas are pure deliciousness. I’d love to see a healthy/vegan/raw version of that bad boy.

    Great post. Love the explanations you provided.

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2010 at 6:14 pm

      i’m totally going to attempt one when lent is over 🙂

  48. Heather @ get healthy with Heather on February 25, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    My favorite meal I reserve for once a year on my birthday is Italian fried chicken. It’s always been my favorite and even though fried food upsets my tummy most of the time I still enjoy this meal from my ma. I’m a food lover too and for healthy food that my body craves!

  49. Nicole @ Making Good Choices on February 25, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    My favorite meal is also for once a year, Christmas Eve dinner, all fried foods, which I only eat then. I have so many other favorite meals I wouldn’t know where to begin! All i know is I LOVE to eat also!

  50. Jessica @ WHY DONTCHA RUN on February 25, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    *thinks* All time favorite meal? I don’t think I can pick just one… I have such an intimate ( 😉 )relationship with food, I can’t see myself singling “anyone” out. haha.

    Great advice though… you’re so full of wisdom. 🙂

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