Carbohydrates and Diet: How Much Do You Really Need in a Day?

Carbohydrates and Diet: How Much Do You Really Need in a Day?

It is mind-boggling to understand how our bodily processes are so intricately entwined and need careful planning of our daily diet to achieve a state of good health and wellness. In my opinion, most of the weight related issues are the outcome of a bad dietary pattern or a lifestyle that is too sluggish to be able to maintain a healthy body. You are what you eat, this has been repeated over and over again and that is exactly why we need to understand the role of various food groups in health maintenance. In this article, we’re going to talk about one of the major food groups that has been shunned for years – carbohydrates. But wait, are they really that bad and do carbohydrates really make you gain weight? Let us find out.

Before we go on to discuss the amount of carbohydrates you should be consuming in a day, it is important to understand the role that this food group plays in our health. Our body is programmed to derive energy primarily from carbohydrates. The body is equipped to extract sugar (glucose) and energy from carbs. It must be kept in mind that the brain feeds primarily on glucose to function and carry out all essential processes. Therefore, the significance of carbohydrates in a smooth supply of energy in the body is unquestionable. However, note that excess carb consumption, after a point, starts getting accumulated in the fat reserves of the body. So, when it comes to carbohydrates, one does not need to shun them but tread with caution.

brown bread vs roti

Breads are primarily carbs

Carbohydrates and weight loss


Why people are often asked to cut down on carbohydrates to facilitate weight loss is primarily because when you workout, the body uses energy – which is getting derived from carbohydrates – and once you cut down on this source of energy the body then switches to fat for energy derivation and in the process facilitates weight loss. It would be absolutely wrong to blame carbs for weight gain, “the problem is not with carbohydrates, it is vital for the functioning of the body. The problem is with the kind of diets that we eat which are predominantly carb-based. We are eating more carbohydrates than what our body requires, at the same time we just aren’t eating enough of protein. The balance needs to be achieved and I am sure if all of us eat a balanced diet and exercise in moderation, there will be no weight or health related issues,” noted Dr. Rupali Datta, Consultant Nutritionist, Fortis Escorts, New Delhi.


Our diets are chiefly high in carbs

How much is enough?


Experts suggest that an average adult should get 50-60% of his or her daily energy requirement from carbohydrates, close to 25% from protein and the rest from fats. Your diet can work on a high-protein-low-carb model, in which case you must ensure that your protein intake does not go beyond 40% of your total dietary intake. Eliminating any food group completely is never the solution. Going low on carbohydrates is alright if you’re trying to initiate weight loss.

“It must be understood that the diet we eat is anyway around 70-80% carbohydrates, ideally we should aim bringing this number down to 50% and keeping it that way. The amount of calories that you need can easily be derived by multiplying your weight by 24, now take this figure and calculate 50% of it to arrive at the amount of calories you need to derive via carbs. Roughly, 1gm of carbohydrates will give you 4 calories, you can do the math this way,” explained Dr. Ritika Sammadar, Clinical Nutritionist, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket, Delhi.

bread basket

“We never ask anyone to go drastically low on carbs, how will your body survive if you are cutting heavily on its source of energy (glucose)? Going low on carbohydrates should always mean that you up your protein intake; in any case, you must not drop the ratio of carbs in your diet below 40% of the daily dietary intake,” shared Gaurav Sharma, Fitness Manager at Anytime Fitness Studio, Jangpura, New Delhi.

Get in touch with a certified nutritionist to learn more about the amount of carbohydrates you would need in your daily diet and how much of it can be substituted with protein to lose weight in a healthy way.