Calculate Carbs For Weight Loss


How do you calculate carbs for weight loss? There are some basic calculations you can use to work out your daily intake of carbohydrates. It’s not that difficult and if you learn the BENEFITS OF CARB here, you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of realising in front of everyone at your office Christmas party that you’ve been eating carbs every day!

Calculate Carbs For Weight Loss

Understanding Carbs

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found in foods that provide your body with energy. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat provide your dietary calories.

Carbs are mostly found in plants where they provide energy and structure. Sugars, starches, and fibers fall into this category. And although animals need and consume carbohydrates, you won’t find any carbs in meat, fish, or poultry. But you will find carbs in milk and dairy products because they contain lactose, which is also a type of sugar.

How do you count carbs?

The first step when it comes to counting carbs is usually to figure out how many carbs you should consume per day. Your healthcare provider can help you estimate how many grams of carbs or servings you need.

While it is generally recommended that you get around half your calorie intake from carbs, the actual amount you need can vary depending on your weight, age, activity levels, and health goals, among other things.

One gram of carbs offers 4 calories. So, for instance, if you’re on a 2,000-calorie diet and your healthcare provider says roughly half your calories should be from carbs, that would be around 1,000 calories per day, which would work out to around 250 grams of carbs.

To count carbs, you need to look up how many carbs are in the foods you eat and keep track of how much you eat of each food.

Nutrition labels on foods can help you determine how many carbs are in that food. For instance, if a nutrition label says a food has 10 grams of total carbohydrates per cup and you eat two cups, that works out to 20 grams of carbs. If the food doesn’t have a label, you can look it up on the internet or in a carbohydrate-counting book.

Important: Not all carbs are created equal. When determining how many carbs to eat per day, focus on consuming complex carbs over simple carbs. Complex carbs — that largely come from whole, plant-based foods — are digested more slowly and considered healthier than simple carbs, which show up in many processed, refined foods.

Another approach is to track your servings. Approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates are considered to be one serving.

15 grams of carbs can look like: 

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 cup of pasta
  • 1 piece of fresh fruit, like a small banana
  • 1 cup of milk

Does counting carbs help with weight loss?

Monitoring your carb intake can make you more mindful of your portion sizes, thereby helping you lose weight. If you are able to cut 500 calories from your diet per day, you can lose around 1 pound of weight per week.

Some low-carb diets, like the Atkins and keto diets, require you to count your carbs and limit your intake. According to the Mayo Clinic, low-carb diets can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

However, weight loss isn’t the only reason one might consider counting carbs. You might need to count your carbs if you have diabetes and need to manage your blood sugar levels.

“Patients with type 2 diabetes may need to consider counting carbohydrates if they are on insulin in order to help regulate their blood glucose. People with well-controlled diabetes or pre-diabetes do not necessarily have to count their carbs but definitely want to be mindful of portion sizes,” says Tonnessen.

Your healthcare provider may also ask you to count your carbs if you are undergoing treatment for cancer, since certain cancer medications can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate.

How Many Carbs Should You Eat per Day to Lose Weight?

Low carbohydrate diets can be very effective for weight loss, according to research.

Reducing carbs tends to reduce your appetite and cause automatic weight loss, or weight loss without the need to count calories.

For some people, a low carb diet allows them to eat until fullness, feel satisfied, and still lose weight.

The number of carbs a person should eat every day for weight loss varies depending on their age, sex, body type, and activity levels

Why would you want to eat fewer carbs?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbs provide 45–65% of your daily calorie intake for all age groups and sexes

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Daily Value (DV) for carbs is 300 grams per day when eating a 2,000-calorie diet

Some people reduce their daily carb intake with the aim of losing weight, cutting down to around 50–150 grams per day.

Research has shown that low carb diets can be part of an effective weight loss strategy.

This diet restricts your intake of carbohydrates — including sugars and starches like bread and pasta — and replaces them with protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.

Studies show that low carb diets can reduce a person’s appetite, lead to them eating fewer calories, and help them to lose weight more easily than in other diets, provided they maintain the diet

In studies comparing low carb and low fat diets, researchers need to actively restrict calories in the low fat groups to make the results comparable, but the low carb groups are still usually more effective

Low carb diets also have benefits that go beyond just weight loss. They can help to lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides. They can also help to raise HDL (good) cholesterol and improve the pattern of LDL (bad) cholesterol

Low carb diets often cause more weight loss and improve health when compared to calorie-restricted, low fat diets that many people still recommend. There’s plenty of evidence to support this idea


Many studies show that low carb diets can be more effective and healthier than low fat diets.

What counts as a low carb diet?

There’s no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a low carb diet, and what’s low for one person may not be low for the next.

An individual’s optimal carb intake depends on their age, gender, body composition, activity levels, personal preference, food culture, and current metabolic health.

People who are physically active and have more muscle mass can tolerate a lot more carbs than people who are sedentary. This particularly applies to those who do a lot of high intensity exercise, like lifting weights or sprinting.

Metabolic health is also a very important factor. When people develop metabolic syndrome, obesity, or type 2 diabetes, their carb needs change.

People who fall into these categories are less able to tolerate a lot of of carbs.


The optimal carb intake varies between individuals, depending on activity levels, current metabolic health, and many other factors.

How to decide your daily carb intake

If you simply remove the unhealthiest carb sources from your diet, such as refined wheat and added sugars, you’ll be well on your way to improved health.

However, to unlock the potential metabolic benefits of low carb diets, you also need to restrict other carb sources.

There are no scientific papers that explain exactly how to match carbohydrate intake to individual needs. The following sections discuss what some dietitians believe about carb intake and weight loss.

Eating 100–150 grams per day

This is a moderate carb intake. It may work for people who are lean, active, and trying to stay healthy and maintain their weight.

It’s possible to lose weight at this — and any — carb intake, but you may also need to be aware of calorie intake and portion sizes to lose weight.

Carbs you can eat include:

  • all vegetables
  • several pieces of fruit per day
  • moderate amounts of healthy starches, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and healthier grains, like rice and oats

Eating 50–100 grams per day

This range may be beneficial if you want to lose weight while keeping some carb sources in the diet. It may also help to maintain your weight if you’re sensitive to carbs.

Carbs you can eat include:

  • plenty of vegetables
  • 2–3 pieces of fruit per day
  • minimal amounts of starchy carbs

Eating 20–50 grams per day

This is where the low carb diet has bigger effects on metabolism. This is a possible range for people who want to lose weight fast, or have metabolic problems, obesity, or diabetes.

When eating less than 50 grams per day, the body will go into ketosis, supplying energy for the brain via so-called ketone bodies. This is likely to dampen your appetite and cause you to lose weight automatically.

Carbs you can eat include:

  • plenty of low carb vegetables
  • some berries, maybe with whipped cream
  • trace carbs from other foods, like avocados, nuts, and seeds

Be aware that a low carb diet doesn’t mean it’s a no-carb diet. There’s room for plenty of low carb vegetables.

It’s important to experiment

Each individual is unique and what works for one person may not work for the next. It’s important to do some self-experimentation and figure out what works best for you.

If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes, because this diet can drastically reduce your need for medication.


For people who are physically active or want to maintain their weight, a range of 100­–150 grams of carbs per day may have benefits. For those aiming to lose weight quickly, going under 50 grams per day under the guidance of a healthcare provider may help.

The Healthiest Carbs

Carbohydrates include complex carbohydrates, like starches, and simple sugars such as white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and honey.

Healthy complex carbohydrates include foods such as starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Compared to refined grains like white bread and pasta, which are simple carbohydrates, whole grains are far more nutrient-dense. However, simple carbs like fruit and dairy are nutritious and are considered part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The standard tip is to “make half of your grains whole.” The USDA recommends that half of your grain intake should come from whole grains. Examples of whole grains include 100% whole grain bread, whole grain oats, quinoa, farro, brown rice, and popcorn. If you are eating six servings of grains a day, aim to make at least half of those servings whole grain foods.

Refined grains such as white rice, pasta, and bagels contain less fiber than whole grains and should be consumed less often. You’ll also want to include fruits and vegetables in your carbohydrate intake. The only time you may be eating more refined grains during your fitness journey is before and after heavy workouts. Before workouts to prevent indigestion and after workouts because your stomach may be too sensitive to a high fiber intake.

As far as plant-based options go, choose 100% whole grains and fruits and vegetables for most of your carbohydrates. As long as you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, you’ll add a substantial amount of fiber to your diet.

Of course, you need protein and fat as well, just not as much. Balance your carbohydrate choices with protein sources, such as lean red meat, poultry, eggs, or fish, and some healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, or nuts and seeds. Besides the nutrition benefits these can bring, protein combined with high-fiber carbs helps promote satiety to keep you feeling full between meals.

Watch Out for Sugars

Aim to eat sugary foods less often. Foods made with added sugars like table sugar, honey, corn syrup or maple syrup often lack vitamins, minerals, and filling fiber. They can leave you feeling lethargic and hungry for more sugar a short time after eating. There are also hidden sugars in sauces and even sometimes soups.

Excess calorie intake from sugary foods has been associated with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.9 For this reason, the USDA recommends that Americans consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars.1 Other expert groups recommend a lower limit; for instance, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests no more than 6% of daily calories.

Limit sugary snacks, pastries, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, candy, and cookies. Be mindful of heavily processed foods such as packaged snacks and boxed meals that often contain added sugars. You can find added sugars by reading the ingredient list. Look for words that end in “ose” or you can also check for “added sugar” on the nutrition facts label

Benefits of Carbs

Wooden table full of fiber-rich wholegrain foods, perfect for a balanced diet

Whole-grain carbohydrates are especially nutritious because they provide dietary fiber, which can help to keep your cholesterol in check.

Our bodies rely on carbohydrates for energy. The body uses carbohydrates — which are found in plant-based foods — as its main source of fuel for all activities.

Plain and simple: We need carbs to function.

Protein, carbohydrates and fats are the three macronutrients. Protein and carbs contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9, according to the USDA. Each macronutrient serves a separate role in the body.

Types of Carbohydrates

There are four types of carbohydrates:

  1. Simple carbohydrates:​ Simple carbohydrates are very quickly and easily digested, raising blood sugar rapidly. Examples of simple carbs are lactose, sucrose, fructose and glucose. These sugars are found in products like candy, soda, table sugar, corn syrup and honey. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health warns that these types of carbohydrates can contribute to weight gain or an inability to lose weight, heart disease and diabetes.
  2. Complex carbohydrates:​ Complex carbohydrates are those that digest at a slower rate and only gradually raise blood sugar. These are found in foods such as lentils, whole grains, brown rice, spinach, broccoli and apples. The importance of carbohydrates of this type is that they contain many vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Choosing complex carbs over simple is ideal. Unprocessed or minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans are healthy choices.
  3. Starches:​ Starches produced by plants, called polysaccharides, are made up of many glucose molecules. Examples of starchy foods are potatoes, chickpeas, wheat and pasta. Fiber is a non-digestible type of carbohydrates.
  4. Fiber:​ There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is helpful in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is cholesterol that is undesirable in high amounts in the body. Insoluble fiber absorbs water in the intestines, helping to soften the stool for easy bowel movements. Insoluble fiber is found in seeds, vegetable skins, brown rice, vegetables and brans.

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