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How Many Carbs Do I Need?

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April 30, 2015

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Blog, Diet

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The simple answer to that question is:  it depends.  Your carb intake depends on age, gender (men generally require more carbs than women), body composition, activity levels, current metabolic health (i.e. obesity, diabetes) and other factors.  If you are physically active, do a lot of high intensity exercise and heavy weight lifting, you can tolerate more carbs than if you lead a more sedentary lifestyle.

Below are some guidelines that might be helpful:

  • Match your carbohydrate intake to your individual activity levels, metabolic condition, and physique or performance goals.
  • If your activity levels are high, you need carbs.  Carbs are the primary fuel source for high-intensity muscular activity.  If you are sedentary, you do not need to consume high levels of carbs as you are not depleting the energy stores in your muscles.
  • Overweight people cannot handle carbs as well and they are more likely to be stored as fat.
  • Lower-carb diets may be the best approach for improving body composition. Shoot for 50-100 grams per day.  This is a great range to lose weight while allowing for some carbs.  It’s also a good maintenance range if you are carb-sensitive.  Otherwise, 100-125 grams are a good maintenance intake.
  • Serious lifters and athletes need 1-3 grams of carbs per pound.
  • Give your body just enough carbs to support glycogen stores and fuel the brain and central nervous system at rest, have good cognitive function, energy, and mood, etc., without overshooting your daily energy needs and gaining fat.

A good start of any change in eating pattern is to remove unhealthy carbs (processed foods, added sugars) from your diet and replace with healthy food like vegetables, fish, and healthy fats.   A low-carb diet isn’t just about weight loss, it is also supposed to improve your health.  Avoid added sugar and wheat.

Choose carbohydrate sources that include fiber. If you prefer a “moderate” carb intake then try to choose unrefined starch sources like potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, rice and other non-gluten grains.

Remember:  “You are what you eat – so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake” – unknown.

Sources:

http://www.earlytorise.com/how-many-carbs-do-you-need/

https://www.healthambition.com/cutting-carbs-lose-weight/

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