How Many Carbs Do I Need to Eat?
I get asked the question “How many carbs do I need?” on an almost daily basis. Our culture seems almost obsessed with carbohydrates these days and for good reason. Most of the convenience foods that we rely on when we’re busy and when we need a pick-me-up are made of mostly carbs. One of the biggest concerns about eating all these carbs is that it is now common knowledge that carbohydrates, when over eaten, contribute significantly to spiking our insulin, throwing off blood sugar levels which then triggers fat storage in the body.
Carbohydrates are classified according to their chemical structure and more specifically how many sugar units are in the molecule. There are simple carbohydrates/sugars which contain only one or two sugar units and there are complex carbohydrates referred to as starches and fibers which can have anywhere from 10 to several thousand sugar units.
It is commonly thought that because simple carbohydrates are smaller they are absorbed by the body more quickly than the complex carbohydrates but that’s not always the case. For example, some fruits have simple carbs but have a small yet prolonged rise in blood sugar. Then there are some starchy foods considered complex carbohydrates that are digested quickly and spike blood sugar.
To over come this the glycemic index was developed. The glycemic index assigns a numeric score to a food based on how drastically it makes your blood sugar rise. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure sugar/glucose given a value of 100. The lower a food's glycemic index, the slower blood sugar rises after eating that food. In general, the more cooked or processed a food is, the higher it is on the index, and the more fiber or fat in a food, the lower it is on the index.
But the glycemic index doesn’t explain everything. What it doesn't explain is how high your blood sugar could go when you eat the food. This is especially important to people that need to track their blood sugar, such as those with blood sugar issues. To understand a food's complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly it allows glucose to enter the bloodstream and how much glucose per serving it delivers. A separate measure called the glycemic load helps with this.
So, after all this, I still haven’t answered the question of “How many carbohydrates do you need?”. It does explain why it’s SO difficult to answer that question in just a single number however. The amount of carbohydrates you need depends on your goals, on whether you are trying to achieve weight loss, fitness goals or feeling like you need a little more energy. It will depend on your state of health, your age and the climate where you live. To answer this question to the best of my abilities we would need to sit down and assess all these things and more. So what I’m saying is that there is no simple answer.
What I can say is, if you have concerns about the amount of carbohydrates you are eating, focus on the carbs that are lower in the glycemic index and have a low glycemic load. These carbs will fill you up, satisfy your hunger and keep you energized longer. If you REALLY want that specific number of how many carbs you need to eat, then we need to talk!
Do you want to know more? Do you want to get even healthier? Would you like to know more about how you can begin to get to the root issues holding you back from reaching your health and wellness goals? Let’s chat about how holistic nutrition consulting and health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes so that you can feel your best every single day. I can provide recipes, meal and snack ideas and support changes to transform your health! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation. I work with women from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!