How Many Carbohydrates Should You Eat?
Yes, you need to eat carbohydrates. But how many carbohydrates should you eat? Forget what the media says. Just open any magazine and they’ll tell you to all the tips and tricks to cutting carbs. This is just a ridiculous fad though. Carbohydrates are essential! In fact, your diet should consist primarily of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates should make up 45 – 65% of your daily caloric intake. For example, if your daily calorie intake is 2000, 1000 of those calories should come from carbohydrates. You can figure out how many grams you should be eating through simple math. 1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories. If you know your goal is 1000 calories of carbohydrates, you can divide 1000/4 to get the number of grams. In this example, you should aim for eating 250 grams of carbohydrates every day. The majority of this should be in complex carbohydrates because they are more nutrient dense than simple carbohydrates.
Choose Carbohydrates From a Variety of Sources
The whole “good carb, bad carb” thing is misleading. There’s no such thing as a bad carb and one type of carbohydrate isn’t going to make you gain weight over another. Weight loss and gain only depends on how many calories you are eating. You just want to make sure that you’re choosing carbohydrates from a variety of sources to get a wide range of nutrients.
Whole Grains and Fiber Rich Foods
You want to aim for the bulk of your carbohydrates to come from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are rich in fiber and are the most nutrient dense. The adequate intake for dietary fiber is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. The average individual doesn’t get enough fiber.
Fruits and Vegetables
It’s amazing to me how many people don’t realize that fruits and vegetables are also carbohydrates. Yes, if you are eating fruits and vegetables, you are eating carbs! They are actually a great source of carbohydrates and contain many essential nutrients.
Sugar Counts Toward Your Daily Carbohydrate Intake
But what about sugar? Sugar may look like it’s listed separately on the food label, but it is actually a subcategory under carbohydrates. It counts towards your total carbohydrate intake. Sugar is an energy source and, no, sugar does not make you fat. That being said, extra sugar may bring extra calories that can make you gain weight. Just make sure to count the sugar in your daily calorie intake and you’ll be fine.
Carbohydrates To Fuel Your Workouts
Carbohydrates are essential for exercise because they give your body the energy that it needs.
Another reason to eat carbohydrates? You don’t have to tell me twice! It is recommended that people consume a higher carbohydrate meal roughly 2 – 4 hours before exercising for more than an hour. This will help increase energy for the workout. Endurance athletes traditionally practice carbohydrate loading before an event for this reason. This is NOT an excuse to go eat extra calories though. It has to be part of your daily calorie intake goal.
After the workout, it is recommended to refuel the body with carbohydrates in addition to protein. This will optimize recovery of muscle tissue and restore glycogen levels in the body.
In summary, you not only need carbohydrates but you need to make them the primary source of your calories. By consuming 45 – 65% of your calories in various carbohydrates, your body and your brain will have the fuel that they need to function at their highest capacity.
- Carbohydrates 101- What Are Carbohydrates?
- You Need Carbohydrates