How Many Carbohydrates Per Day Is Optimal (to lose weight)?
To lose weight is best done by eating low carbohydrates. But what is little? And is it unhealthy if you do not eat enough carbohydrates? You will discover the answer to these questions and more here.
After reading this article you know exactly how much carbohydrates you have to eat to change your body into an optimal fat burned machine.
What you will learn in this article:
- Why you should not eat a lot of carbohydrates to lose weight
- Other benefits of not eating a lot of carbohydrates
- Health risks of too few carbohydrates
- Calculate the optimal amount of carbohydrates to lose weight
There are many roads that lead to Rome, but one is shorter and less bumpy than the other. And so it is with losing weight.
There are many ways to reach your goal weight. In some ways, you will quickly and effortlessly achieve your goal weight while you have to fight for a long time to reach your goal.
The low-carbohydrate diet has emerged over the past decades as the way to quickly and effortlessly achieve your target weight.
So you will lose weight with a low-carbohydrate diet many times faster than with a low-fat diet, and that while you can also keep it better. And that is not only based on a feeling that people have, but scientific research also confirms this (source, source).
In short: the low-carbohydrate diet is the most efficient diet to lose weight.
Then read this article in which I examine 9 scientific studies. From all these studies, the low-carbohydrate diet time and time again is the winner.
You are of course curious how much carbohydrate you can eat if you want to lose weight. Before going into this, it is important to first consider the different types of carbohydrates.
In order to lose weight, it is also important that you eat the right kind of carbohydrates.
Types of Carbohydrates
That you lose weight by eating low carbohydrates has a physiological reason. It is largely based on lowering your insulin value.
As you probably know, insulin is the hormone that is needed to absorb glucose from your blood. Insulin has many other functions. For example, a high insulin level gives your body the signal to store and retain fat.
After all, high blood glucose is a sign that a lot of energy from the diet has been obtained and that work can be done to expand the energy reserves (read: the fat stores) of the body.
It is clear that you do not want the body to retain fat, or worse, store fat if you want to lose weight. Preventing the body from doing this is, therefore, priority number 1 in the hunt for your ideal weight.
Preventing your body from entering fat-storing & saving mode is done by keeping insulin levels low. These insulin levels are kept low by keeping blood glucose low. What you do by not eating a lot of carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as it looks at first sight. This has to do with the different effects of different carbohydrate types on blood glucose.
Because certain types of carbohydrates are quickly broken down to glucose, they allow blood glucose to rise faster.
For example, a portion of French fries has a totally different effect on blood glucose than a portion of quinoa. This is due to the speed with which the carbohydrates are broken down to glucose and can be absorbed into the blood.
The fries cause the blood sugars to rise almost 3 times as fast as the quinoa so that the body will have to produce much more insulin. The body always tries to bring the blood sugars down to normal values as quickly as possible.
The rate at which carbohydrates are converted into the glucose is indicated by the glycemic index (GI).
For example, fries have a GI of 95 and quinoa 35.
The lower this GI value the better.
The GI of a foodstuff is determined, among other things, by the complexity of the carbohydrates, the presence of dietary fibers and the preparation. For example, boiled sweet potato has a low GI while deep-fried sweet potato has a high GI.
Cooking a food always gives the lowest GI, by baking the GI is higher and by frying, it is the highest. Cooking is always the best, and the shorter you cook the better for the GI.
N ow you do not have to learn whole tables of GI values by heart if you want to lose weight. If you opt for fresh and unprocessed food and this cook (instead of baking or frying) then you’re good in 99% of the cases.
If something can be eaten raw, you can of course also eat it raw. The less preparation the more difficult the food is to digest, resulting in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream.
To make it easy for you I have put together which carbohydrate sources you have to avoid if you want to lose weight:
- Patat and baked potatoes
- White rice
- Breakfast cereals
- Soft drink
- Fruit juice
- Drinky yogurt
- Sweets, cookies, bars, pastries
- Sweetened desserts
- Salts, chips, cocktail nuts
What you can eat, I have also put on a list:
- All kinds of vegetables, starchy vegetables such as sweet potato and parsnip in moderation
- Legumes and beans
- All kinds of fruit, dried fruit in moderation
- Whole grain cereals such as oatmeal
- Unpolished rice
Health Benefits of Low-Carbohydrate Eating
In this way, you reduce the risk of heart and vascular diseases by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol by lowering your carbohydrate. In addition, you reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by lowering blood glucose (source, source).
Conditions that fall under the metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic liver, cancer and dementia. A characteristic of the metabolic syndrome is too much visceral fat.
Of course, these are all health benefits that are inherent in losing weight in general.
And for everyone with digestive problems and abdominal complaints: a low-carbohydrate diet reduces the symptoms in many cases by improving the intestinal flora (source).
Health Risks of Not Enough Carbohydrates
Maybe you think ‘I will not eat carbohydrates any more, then I’ll lose weight very quickly’.
Don’t! That is downright unhealthy.
Deleting vegetables, fruit and nuts from your diet because of the carbohydrates would be a big mistake. You really need these nutrients for your health.
Another issue with little or no carbohydrate eating is that you will feel bad.
A diet that makes you feel bad is difficult to sustain, so the chances are that you will give up at a given moment and lose your motivation to lose weight.
You therefore always need a minimal amount of carbohydrates. Now the big question is, of course, how much exactly?
How do You Determine The Optimal Amount of Carbohydrates?
Now you might have hoped for a quick answer such as: eat 80 grams of carbohydrates per day. And finished. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.
But do not worry, I will quickly get you started.
The optimal amount of carbohydrates depends on a number of factors:
As you can see, there are many variables. You will understand that a small lady in the office burns fewer calories than a bear from a guy working in construction.
With a lower or higher calorie requirement, the carbohydrate requirement depends. The first step is therefore to determine your daily calorie requirement. Fortunately, we have tools for that.
You calculate your daily calorie requirement with a BMT (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator. Now it is the case that we have the most advanced and comprehensive BMR of the internet. Is that equally good? You can find this calculator here.
Enter your data with this calculator, indicate how much you are moving and choose the target for ‘I want to lose weight’. Now you know exactly how many calories you can eat per day to lose weight.
On the basis of this amount of calories, you can calculate how much carbohydrates you can eat if you want to eat low in carbohydrates.
What you need to know is that 4 kcal equals 1 gram of carbohydrates.
To calculate how many grams of carbohydrates you can eat, we use percentages of your daily calorie requirement if you want to lose weight. Here we can make a subdivision of how strict / fast you want to lose weight in:
- Normally low in carbohydrates
- Moderately low carbohydrate
- Extremely strict low carbohydrate
Good to know: non-fermentable fibers do not really count as carbohydrates even though technically they do. These fibers are not broken down in the intestines and therefore do not provide an energy value. Non-fermentable fibers are for example in vegetables, beans, peas and wheat.
# 1: Normally Low in Carbohydrate
With a normal low-carbohydrate diet you can use the following percentages as a guideline:
- 30% carbohydrates
- 30% protein
- 40% of fats
A normal low carbohydrate diet is suitable for anyone who wants to lose weight at a reasonable pace while improving health at the same time.
To give an example. Imagine the calculation with the BMR calculator that you can eat 1,600 kcal daily to lose weight. 30% of your calories may come from carbohydrates and 1 gram of carbohydrates is 4 kcal. The calculation is then:
1,600 kcal x 30% = 480 kcal of carbohydrates
480 kcal / 4 kcal / gram = 120 grams of carbohydrates per day
Do you want to know how many carbohydrates there are in a particular food? This is stated on the packaging for packaged foods.
# 2: Reasonably Strict Low-Carbohydrate Diet
With a reasonably strict low-carbohydrate diet you can use the following guideline:
- 20% carbohydrates
- 30% protein
- 50% of fats
A fairly strict low-carbohydrate diet is suitable for people who want to lose a lot of kilos in a short time. If you follow this diet for a longer period of time, you can get a shortage of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber because you can eat very little fruit.
A fairly strict low-carbohydrate diet can offer a solution if the excess weight is so high that it poses an acute threat to health.
If you just want to lose a few pounds for cosmetic reasons, I would not advise you to follow a reasonably strict low-carbohydrate diet.
Calorie requirement according to BMR calculator: 1,600 kcal
1,600 kcal x 20% = 320 kcal from carbohydrates
320 kcal / 4 kcal / gram = 80 grams of carbohydrates per day.
# 3: Extremely Strict Low-Carbohydrate Diet
With an extremely strict low-carbohydrate diet you can follow the following guideline:
- 10% carbohydrates
- 35% protein
- 55% of fats
I would not recommend this extreme form of low-carbohydrate diet unless an acute intervention is required because health is at risk due to severe obesity. Discuss it with your doctor if you think that health is at risk due to obesity.
An extremely strict low-carbohydrate diet can also offer a solution if you really need to lose a few pounds in a short time. Because you are getting married in 2 weeks and you do not fit well within your wedding dress, for example.
It is not exactly the healthiest way to reach your goal weight but sometimes the goal justifies the means.
Calorie requirement according to BMR calculator: 1,600 kcal
1,600 kcal x 10% = 160 kcal from carbohydrates
160 kcal / 4 kcal / gram = 40 grams of carbohydrates per day.
To give you an idea of how severe this is, 40 grams of carbohydrates per day is equivalent to:
- 3 glasses of milk or
- 2 glasses of cola or
- 3 sandwiches or
- 2 slices of gingerbread or
- Half a portion of French fries or
- 1 pizza slice
After a breakfast of 2 sandwiches and a glass of milk, you are equal to the maximum amount of carbohydrates for the entire day.
Finally, we still have the superlative rate of low-carbohydrate food. We no longer speak about the low-carbohydrate diet but about the ketogenic diet.
In the ketogenic diet, you eat extremely few carbohydrates and it is characterized by an extremely high amount of fat.
In the ketogenic diet the ratio is as follows:
- 5% carbohydrates
- 20% protein
- 75% of fats
With a ketogenic diet, your body gets in full ketosis. That is a mode in which your body has completely switched to the burning of fats instead of carbohydrates.
When killing fats, ketones are released that the body will use as energy instead of glucose. Ideal for burning the excess fat edges. There are also a few disadvantages to the ketogenic diet, which you can read in my article with the explanation of the ketogenic diet and the 4 dangers.
If you want to know more about low-carbohydrate food, I can recommend the following articles:
- Low carbohydrate diet: explanation, weekly menu, 9 recipes and 7 hazards
- Is No/Low Carb Eating the Best Way to Lose Weight
- Glycemic index: The difference between simple and complex carbohydrates
- 16 tips to eat without (many) carbohydrates + 3 delicious recipes
- What carbohydrates are + table with good and bad types
Did you know that research shows that 1 in 3 just gains from a diet instead of losing weight? (source)
Discover how you lose several kilos per week with tasty and easy to make slimming recipes!
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