You know them well: pastas, breads, rice and potatoes. Called carbohydrates, or carbs, they’re the go-to nutrient that many people try to cut down on (or cut out) when trying to lose weight.
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But we need carbs. They’re the main energy source for your body, especially your brain. Your digestive system quickly breaks down carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar) to fuel your cells, tissues and organs. Your body can use glucose right away or store it for later use.
But some carbohydrates are better for your body than others. Knowing the difference, and how many carbs to eat per day, can benefit your health. It may also help if you’re trying to shed extra pounds — and keep them off.
“Carbs have a bad rap. But even for weight loss, you still don’t want to eliminate all of them. Many contain fiber and other nutrients that are good for you,” says registered dietitian Annalise Pratt, RD. “It’s important to strike a balance, so you get the most benefits and maintain good health.”
How many carbohydrates should you eat to lose weight?
Carbohydrate needs vary from person to person. The amount you need for weight loss depends on several factors such as your age, sex and activity level.
The recommended percentage of your daily calories from carbohydrates is typically 45% to 65% carbohydrates. Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram. That means, if you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, you’d want 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates in your daily diet.
Losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume. Experts say you should aim to burn 500 calories more than what you eat each day. As far as how many carbohydrates to eat, Pratt says 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates is safe for most people who are trying to lose weight.
It may be better for some people to eat carbs consistently throughout the day. “You can also break it up evenly with 40 to 50 grams of carbs per meal,” she says. “For example, if you…