A common question asked by those trying to lose weight is “How Many Carbs Per Day For Weight Loss?” The amount of carbohydrates you require on a daily basis will depend on your unique body type, your metabolic rate and any other relevant medical conditions you may have.
Why carbs are important for weight loss
Carbohydrates are considered to be the bad guys by those who plan to lose weight. Though, its overindulgence does it make it difficult to lose weight; the underlying fact is different! In order to vindicate carbohydrates from the allegations of hindering weight loss, here are certain nutritional facts to know about it.
These are the energy suppliers in a food. Along with the immense benefits these macronutrients provide, they also contribute a lot to the overall health and productivity in an individual.
Carbohydrates do have a significant role in weight loss, but simply cutting down its portion in food will not yield the desired success. In order to calculate how carbohydrates help in losing weight, one needs to understand its functions, requirements, assimilations, and its source.
What carbs do to a body?
Undoubtedly, they provide energy. The human body’s most preferred source of fuel is carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are the biggest source of fuel for the human brain.
How much carbs do you require?
As per experts, carbohydrates should constitute 45 to 65 percent of the daily calorie intake so that the human body can make sufficient energy for its use. In simpler words, if a person consumes 2000 calories per day, the amount of carbohydrate should be close to 1000 calories.
As per a research report published in 2018, carbohydrate is the chief source of energy in many low- and middle-income countries, contributing up to 70-80 per cent of daily calories. In a country like India, the study says, carbohydrate intake comprises 65-75 per cent of the total calorie. In a country, where weight gain, obesity, diabetes and other related complications are on rise, the carbohydrate intake should definitely be checked.
Where are carbohydrates found?
Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, legumes, pulses and green leafy vegetables are good carbohydrates whereas highly polished rice or refined wheat, sugar, glucose, highly processed foods such as cookies and pastries, fruit juice and sweetened beverages and fried potatoes or French fries are are bad carbohydrates.
Benefits of Carbs in Your Diet
Carbohydrates are important in your diet for the following reasons:
They provide energy. Carbohydrates break down into glucose, the body’s main fuel. Neither protein nor fat is as efficient of a source of energy as carbs.
Carbs in whole foods have many nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains supply many vitamins and minerals. They also contain plant compounds called phytonutrients, which can prevent disease.
Complex carbs give you fiber. Besides aiding in digestion, fiber can lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. Increasing fiber in your food can lower your risk of heart disease and several types of cancer.
Complex carbs can help you maintain a healthy weight. Because they are bulky, many healthy sources of carbs help you feel full, which makes you eat less. There is very little evidence that healthy carbs contribute to weight gain.
What About Low-Carb Diets?
Those who want to lose weight are often steered toward a low-fat or low-carb diet. People may lose weight when on either of the diets, but some studies have shown that you may lose more body fat on a low-fat diet.
Researchers aren’t sure whether low-carb diets are good for your overall health. Low-carb diets that contain a lot of saturated fats can be bad for your heart.
Also, some of the weight lost on low-carb diets is probably only water weight, not body fat.
The best diet is a long-time topic of debate. Many studies rely on what people said they ate. But in two studies backed by the National Institutes of Health, participants were asked to stay on site and eat only the food provided to them.
In a 2015 study, people with an obese BMI were asked to spend five days on a baseline diet. They were then switched to either a low-fat or low-carb diet. The participants then went home for a few weeks and then returned to repeat the process with the opposite diet. Here, the participants lost weight on both diets but lost more body fat on the low-fat diet.
In a 2021 study, 19 people spent two weeks on either a low-carb or a low-fat diet, before changing to the other one. They could eat as much of the supplied food as they wanted. Here, the participants ate less and lost more body fat on the low-fat diet than they did on the low-carb diet.
Carbs and Blood Sugar
If you have diabetes and you’re watching how many carbs you eat, it’s helpful to know about the concepts of glycemic index and glycemic load:
Glycemic index. The glycemic index ranks foods according to how quickly their carbs are converted to sugars. Foods with a high glycemic index can cause blood sugar to spike. These foods may be related to heart disease, obesity, and other health problems, including diabetes.
Glycemic load. The glycemic index does not consider the number of carbs per serving of a particular food. To address this, a different measurement, called the glycemic load, is used. This measurement is more useful for those striving to make good food choices.
Foods with a high glycemic load should be eaten sparingly. These foods include the following:
- Candy bars
- Highly processed breakfast cereals
- French fries
- Baked potatoes
- White rice
Healthier choices include foods with a lower glycemic load like the following:
- Black beans
- Bran cereal
Exactly How Many Carbs You Should Eat Per Day If You’re Trying to Lose Weight
Carbs are usually one of the first things to get the boot when you’re trying to shape up your diet. And it sort of makes sense: White bread, pasta, cake, and other sugar-crammed refined carbohydrates are notorious for nuking weight-loss efforts.
But if you start slashing too many carbs out of your daily meal plan – or get rid of them altogether – your overall health could be getting the short end of the stick.
“Carbohydrates are a foundation of a healthy diet, providing a ready source of energy for all the body’s activities,” says Dr Liz Blom, a Minnesota-based nutrition and wellness coach. “In addition to the energy carbohydrates provide, they are needed for building nonessential amino acids that the body uses to create proteins. They also help in the processing of fat and in the building of cartilage, bone, and the tissues of the nervous system.”
So exactly how many grams of carbohydrates do you have to consume each day to lose weight? Like carbs themselves, says Blom, the answer is both simple and complex. The simple part: Everyone needs carbohydrates. The complex part: Each individual’s ideal intake depends on a handful of factors, including age, sex, height, weight, activity level, genetics, and more.
As a rule of thumb, carbs should make up about 45 percent of your daily calories if you’re trying to lose weight, says Blom. To translate that into something you can actually measure, pin down how many calories you’re consuming each day, then calculate 45 per cent of that number. Divide that number by four, and that’s how many grams of carbs you should have daily to lose weight. For example, if you’re on a 1,800-calorie diet, you should stick to 202 grams of carbohydrates per day.
With that in mind, you might have to make some modifications in order to find the sweet spot that works best for you, says Blom. She suggests starting at 45 percent and using a tool like MyFitnessPal to track your intake. If you don’t lose any weight after the first week, you can try going lower. “Some women may need to go lower than 45 percent,” says Blom. If you start losing weight but begin to feel super sluggish, try upping your carbohydrate intake a bit and see how you feel and how your weight responds.
And while it’s fine to go above 45 percent, make sure your carbohydrate intake doesn’t surpass 65 percent of your daily calorie intake, says Blom. “This will leave less room for protein and healthy fat intake, which will support satiety (feeling full) and other weight loss benefits,” she says.
The key to maintaining your carb control is to load up on wholesome varieties of carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and even dairy products, and keep your portions in check, says Blom. These healthy sources of carbs are also packed with fiber, which fills you up faster and curbs your appetite better than pasta and doughnuts.
We’re not saying that you have to totally banish your favourite bread or pasta dish from the table. If you have to have it, just make sure you’re aware of how much of it you’re taking in, says Keri Gans, nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet. “For example, you can definitely lose weight eating pasta. However, the bowl needs to have only one cup of cooked pasta with lots of veggies, and some protein.”
Once you’ve figured out your magic carb number, don’t forget to stretch it throughout your day to keep your blood sugar steady and your belly full of fiber. So if you eat five meals a day and you’re aiming to consume 202 grams of carbs per day, that shakes out to 40 grams of carbohydrates per meal. (That’s more than the amount in one banana or a cup of cooked quinoa.) Who says you have to go no-carb to lose weight?
How Many Carbohydrates Does The Body Need To Survive?
The answer to this question, on a strictly physiologic level, is zero. The body can manufacture glucose from other substances, and although the brain’s preferred fuel is glucose, it can use ketones(the by-products of fatty acid breakdown produced in very low insulin states) when no glucose is available. However, from a practical and performance standpoint, zero carbohydrate nutrition plans are not ideal for the vast majority of people. If you are interested in this kind of diet, there are countless books and articles about them, though I do not recommend following a ketogenic diet.
Do Carbs Or Calories Cause Weight Gain?
Some people believe that it is not calories, but carbohydrates, and your hormonal response to their ingestion (i.e. insulin release), that are responsible for weight gain. They argue that if insulin levels are kept low then fat storage is impossible regardless of the amount of calories consumed. Others believe that a calorie is a calorie and the laws of thermodynamics dictate that if you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
I think that there is some truth to both arguments and they aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Fat loss can be different from “weight loss.” It is theoretically possible to eat fewer calories than you burn but lose muscle tissue and gain body fat, as it is possible (though very difficult) to eat more calories than you burn, gain muscle but lose fat.
As a practical matter, however, it may not matter. What works for you, works for you. If you can get away with stuffing your face with protein and fat without regard for total calories, maintain a low body fat percentage, feel well and have optimal biochemistry (low CRP, high HDL, low triglycerides, etc.), then more power to you.
Most people, however, will find that calories must be controlled to lose fat. (Note: oftentimes, people who go on low carb diets attribute their weight loss to the lack of carbs when in fact it is the total calorie reduction that occurs with carb restriction that is responsible for the weight loss. These people would likely lose the same amount of fat with a modest reduction in carbs and fat, feel better while they are doing it, and have a better chance of keeping it off in the long run.)
Additionally, people generally feel better with at least some carbohydrate in their diets. The body uses stored sugar to fuel high intensity exercise, which should form the foundation of any fat loss exercise plan, so carbohydrates = improved exercise performance.