Today I want to talk about carbohydrates. This is the first post of my Nutrition 101 series. If you want to know more about the series, go check out my previous blog, but in summary; I want to give you a basic idea about carbohydrates and many more things in my own words and backed up with a little bit of science.
I am sure all of you have heard about carbohydrates before. Those are the bad ones, the ones that make you fat, the ones you cannot eat after 6 or 8pm, the ones you want to be careful about.
Well first of all I want to get out of the way that carbohydrates are bad, because they are not. They do not lead to weight gain if you consume them at night. There is no evidence that the time we eat carbohydrates and weight gain are related. If we eat to many calories, yes we will gain weight, but as long as we eat the right amount of calories over the day, the time does not matter. A little disclaimer here. If you are an athlete meal timing can be and is in most cases crucial and necessary, but this is not part of this post. I will also refer to carbohydrates further on as carbs or CHO.
Carbohydrates can be found in a variety of food. Everything that consists of grains or wheat, but also legumes, rice and potatoes, fruits and vegetables. Our body needs carbohydrates to make energy in the form of ATP. Carbs are not our only energy source but our biggest. Some parts of our body can only use carbohydrates like our brain. Picture your body as a car and CHO as fuel. If you don’t put fuel in your car, the car won’t work, same principle with your body.
So how many CHO should I consume every day and what are some good sources you might ask yourself, well here is the answer!
The USDA (Unites States Department of Agriculture) recommends that 45%-65% of your daily calories come from CHO. This is a pretty wide range, but you have to understand that every human being is an individual. (I linked you the Dietary Reference Intake by the USDA down at the bottom. It is a giant book, if you want to find answers easily I suggest the search option of the book.)
So now we know how many calories should come from carbs, but what should we eat? A good visual tool for most people is the MyPlate or the Healthy Eating Plate.
This plate is pretty self explaining. As you can see about 60% of our plate should be filled with carbs, whole grains, fruits, vegetables.
Let’s recap what we know;
- 45%-65% of our daily calories should come from CHO
- MyPlate shows us how to split those CHO up on our plate
So how do you get to the 45%-65% range? I will show you!
- Calculate the calories you need each day! Go to –> Calorie Calculator
- Multiply that number by 0.45 to get your 45% and by 0.65% to get your 65% now you have the range
- Divide each number, the lower and the upper end of the range, by 4 (1g CHO = 4 calories)
- Now you have a range of grams of CHO you should consume each day.
The last thing I want to talk about is CHO sources. I will tell you which sources work best for me.
Whole Grains: Bread or oatmeal for breakfast and lunch, pasta for dinner or rice
Fruits: I prefer having a banana in the morning and all kind of berries throughout the day, when mangos are in season, I go crazy on those
Vegetables: Simply cauliflower, broccoli, I like to keep it easy
The minimum amount of CHO you MUST consume each day, is 130g. This is recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, to keep proper brain functions.
This is all guys. I would really really appreciate your feedback on my post. This is my first REAL blog post and I would love to hear your ideas on how to improve it and if you could share it. I have TONS of ideas for new post on weight loss/gain that I want to include in this series. Let me know what you think and email or contact me in any way. Thank you 🙂