Many people believe that avoiding carbs at night can ensure that they will not be stored as fat. However, as popular as the “no carbs at night” approach may be, it’s not entirely accurate.

The Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Sciences (INFS) notes that consuming carbohydrates at night can help improve sleep by corralling the hormone cortisol, which the body produces in response to stress. If cortisol is not controlled at night, it may result in difficulty falling asleep, and be potentially harmful to individuals hoping to lose weight through exercise.

A good night’s rest provides the body with ample time to repair itself and recover. Without that, individuals may be more vulnerable to injuries that can compromise their efforts to get healthier. The INFS also notes that carbohydrates serve as energy sources that help the body build muscle and burn fat. Thus, avoiding carbs entirely could make it difficult for individuals to achieve their health and fitness goals.

Despite the many ways carbs help the body, thinking it is best to avoid them at night is not entirely inaccurate. Rather than avoiding carbs entirely at night, the INFS recommends avoiding excessive consumption of carbs. Excessive consumption of any food, including carbs, can compromise efforts to eat healthier. Loading up on carbs at night can tip the scale in the morning because carbs cause water retention which can lead to an increase in body weight.

Carbs perform a host of important functions in the body, and play a vital role in helping people achieve their fitness goals. Though carbs need not be avoided at night, individuals should avoid overdoing it with carbs at the dinner table.