One of the most commonly asked questions is how many carbohydrates you should eat per day. And we know that there are a lot of different diets out there, some saying go completely carb free like the ketogenic diet and some saying you need to be eating more carbs and low fat. So we want to answer that question here.
It really depends on your health goals and how many carbs you should eat per day and it really depends on your body type, but for most people let’s say you’re consuming 1600 calories or 2000 calories a day, you want carbohydrates to typically be about 40% of your overall intake of calories. And again that really depends on the person and that’s for an active person.
If you’re active about 40% of your calories should come from carbs, and other 30% protein, and 30% fat in general. And again, that does depend for some people. You may consume a much higher fat diet if your goal is to become a fat burner for some people and they may need more protein as well.
If you’re really trying to pack on some muscle, in general the amount of carbs you should consume per day is probably going to be between 500 and 800 calories per day from carbohydrates, and that’s going to typically be about 150 to 200 grams of carbohydrates per day. So 200 is the upper amount, even as low as 120 may be ideal. So when you’re counting your carbohydrates, 120 to 200 for most people is ideal when it comes to burning fat and just overall general health.
One of the most popular diets nowadays is keto, its a great way to eat low carb, but it isn’t the only option. What are the different kinds of low carb diets and which one is right for you, plus what are net carbs? Let’s answer all of these questions.
On any low carb diet you cut back on carbohydrates also known as carbs. Carbs are found in sugary foods like candy and desserts, and starchy foods like pasta, bread, and cereal. But how low do you go? There are 3 levels of carbs, strict low carb, which we often call keto. Moderate low carb, and liberal low carb. The difference is in the amount of carbs consumed in a typical day.
With keto you’ll want to keep carbs very low, no more than 20 grams of net carbs per day. That means meals should stay out or below about 7 grams of net carbs each. Net carbs are total carbs minus dietary fiber.
On a moderate low carb diet you can eat more than that, up to about 50 grams of net carbs per day. And on a liberal low carb diet you can eat 50 to 100 grams of net carbs each day. Even at the 100 grams you are still well below the 250 grams of carbs most people eat daily.
Do you need to stick to a keto diet consuming under 20 grams of carbs a day, or would you get good results with a moderate low carb diet consuming 20 to 50 grams? People with a lot of weight to lose or with conditions like type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, or food addiction may find that they get the best results on a keto diet. In general, the fewer the carbs, the bigger the impact on speeding weight loss, improving metabolic conditions, and reducing hunger. So if you fall into one of those categories you may do well starting out on a strict keto diet. This will give you the best idea of how low carb makes you feel, how it impacts you, and what sort of results you might get.
However there are three main downsides of a strict low carb approach. The first and most obvious is that you have to limit more types of food to keep your carbs very low, and the second is that you may experience keto’s side effects like the keto flu, until you are adapted to burning more fat. So if you start with keto, stay hydrated and make sure you get enough salt too.
And third, if you take medications to lower your blood sugar, a keto diet may potentially lower your blood sugar to dangerous levels. Make sure you consult with your doctor if you take blood sugar medications before starting a strict low carb diet.
If you want to lose some weight and don’t have any blood sugar issues, you may do very well on a moderate low carb diet. Weight loss may be slower, but you will be less likely to experience significant side effects, and you will be able to enjoy a little bit more fruit and other higher carb foods.
Lean active and healthy individuals often do very well on liberal low carb. Your diet will be less restrictive and still very healthy, however you may not see quite as much weight loss or metabolic improvement, if you start with a strict or moderate low carb plan. As you achieve your health and weight goals, you can try to add more carbs back into your diet. Individuals differ, but maintenance is often possible with a more liberal approach.
If you try a strict low carb diet and find it to be too restrictive to stick with, you can switch to a moderate or liberal low carb diet. Many people get good results just by getting carbs below 100 grams a day
So we have been talking about grams of net carbs, this simply means that when we count grams of carbs we exclude the grams of fiber. This is because you can eat all the fiber you want from keto vegetables, without seeing any significant blood sugar or insulin impact. Most people only need to limit sugars and starches, not fiber, since fiber can’t be digested and absorbed into your body.
Be very careful of the term net carbs on labels of low carb products, especially processed foods like protein or energy bars. Some manufacturers use net carbs as a way to disguise ingredients like sugar alcohols, that may slow weight loss and impact blood sugar. Our advice is to keep it simple, the most effective keto diet and the healthiest is based on natural whole foods, rather than processed products.
To sum it up, low carb diets focus on healthy whole foods and keep carbs low. Keto is the lowest with net carbs below 20 grams a day, a moderate low carb diet allows 20 to 50 grams of net carbs, and the liberal one allows up to 100 grams of the net carbs. And remember, net carbs are just carb counts without the fiber.
So what’s the biggest mistake you might make when deciding how many carbs to include in your diet? It’s a lack of flexibility! Many people try just one level of carbs and give up quickly if it doesn’t suit them, and that’s a shame, because finding the right balance is a key to low carb success. So maybe you went straight into keto, and found the transition too tough.
Don’t give up, instead try a more moderate low carb approach or maybe you started out slow with a liberal low carb diet and you aren’t seeing the results you hoped for. Again, don’t give up, instead see if being stricter with cards gets you to where you want to be. There isn’t one ideal level of carbs for everyone, so you should find a diet that works for your body and your preferences.