Carb Counters - general carb question

View Full Version : general carb question

03-11-2011, 09:44 AM
Can anyone tell me how to calculate approximately how many carbs (or net carbs) you should be eating in a day? Is it based on BMI? I've looked all over online but haven't found a resource. Not Atkins-low, just what would be considered "low-carb." Thanks!

03-11-2011, 12:55 PM
For a balanced diet, about 50% of you daily calories.

03-11-2011, 01:04 PM
I found what seems to be a good calculator that takes age and weight into consideration at at the University of Maryland Medical System
Of course we need to recalculate for about every 5 pounds lost. Hope this helps!

03-11-2011, 01:43 PM
Thank you!

03-11-2011, 02:13 PM
Well it also depends on you- I eat 35% carbs a day so that number is below 100 grams a day. 50% is a lot if you are trying to do low carb.

03-12-2011, 01:21 PM
Just to throw my 2 in here - there is no should when it comes to carbs; no minimum daily requirement for humans; nothing essential about grains; etc.

If you are low-carbing and want to see how much carbs your body can tolerate before they adversely impact your insulin response and thus fat stores (inflammation and other nasties), it really is an individual trial. Just as with all diets, there is no "one size fits all". I can lose fat steadily now on ~80gm per day and keeping my calories <1200, as long as no sugar/starch/grains. Some folks have to keep their daily intake closer to 50 or even lower.

Also, the source of carbs makes a difference. I can do 2 servings of fruit a day (usually berries). A doctor friend only does veggies as he gets stuck when eating any fruit. (We both check blood sugars on occasion after a meal - not because we are diabetic or even pre-diabetic but because we want to see our insulin response to food.)

Remember, formulas rarely work in the weight loss world - even the BMI is misleading.

03-12-2011, 02:03 PM
The one-size-fits-all "balanced diet" is a complete myth. There is ample evidence that there is no "balanced diet" that doesn't take into account individual variables.

The best argument (at this point) for undersanding those individual variables is Gary Taubes

This article is a nice overview of his main arguments for the appropriateness of low-carb for SOME people (and even hinting at who those people are):

His Book Good Calories, Bad Calories is far more comprehensive of course, and provides an in-depth review of the low-carb research, but it does read like a textbook - so it's not always exciting reading (which is fine, it's informormative, not a novel).

I'm looking forward to reading his newest (I believe) book called Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (Borzoi Books) by Gary Taubes

But as to the original question, the state of the current science doesn't really give you a way to determine your target carbohydrates without personal experience - essentially experimentation.

You can start at the low-end and work up (as both Atkins, South Beach do) or you can start anywhere between 100g - 200g and work your way down (even 200g is considered low-carb by some, though most diets that call themselves low-carb suggest much lower).

Essentially, trial and error is all anyone has.

On a personal note, I think there's something to be said for tapering off rather than going cold turkey.

The diets that drastically cut carbs in the initial stages and then gradually add them back in, rationalize this by saying that the purpose of the "cold turkey" approach is to get rid of carb cravings. Personally, I think this is hogwash. I think the only reason the diets do this, is to produce an impressively large initial weight loss to sell you on the diet. Losing 4 to 10 lbs in the first week is alluring bait. Most of the initial weight is water weight, and the authors freely admit that - but let's face it, we're mostly just glad the weight is gone. Whether it's fat, water or muscle -it's very
difficult to know or care which is which on the scale.

I always experienced extremely unpleasant symptoms on induction, and they didn't go away after the two weeks (or even after five weeks) as Dr. Atkins suggests. Because I had so much weight to lose, and because Dr. Atkins said prolonged induction is fine for people like myself with a lot of weight to lose, I never considered going on to OWL (I should have),

In a very real sense, I chose to do Atkins "backwards." I was sceptical of low-carb when my doctor recommended it, so I started gradually cutting back carbohydrates. The weight loss is slower this way - much slower, but I experienced no carb-withdrawal at all, and I find that cravings diminish just as easily backwards as forwards.

However, dieting backwards, also yielded backwards results. My initial losses were zero, and then started small and snowballed. Initially it was quite frustrating, but it's become quite exciting. In traditional dieting, you're losing fastest when your motivation is at it's peak - in the beginning. You lose motivation as you lose less and less. Dieting backwards, you don't necessarily lose less and less. The snow-balling effect helps.

I'm not suggesting anyone rely on their weight loss results for motivation. It's too unpredictable. Someone might try "dieting backwards" and find that they don't lose any faster at the end, then at the beginning. If they pin their hopes on losing fast, they'll become just as unmotivated as anyone dieting traditionally.

I'm just saying that the "induction cures cravings" in my experiences is boloney (at least for some of us).

I've said an awful lot that mainly means "experiment," but the books I mentioned I think will help you decide where to start.

03-12-2011, 02:24 PM
I have a related question - when I see all these carb counts mentioned, are these total carbs, or "net" carbs (which I believe means subtracting fiber grams?)?

I don't think of myself as a traditional low-carber, but I do try to keep my protein and fat grams at certain ranges. I just realized the other day, in an "a ha!" moment, that by keeping my carbs to less than 40% of my diet, I might be a low-carber who didn't know it. :) Added to that, most of my carbs are in the form of veggies.

At about 150 grams a day (including fiber) I'm sure I'm not in Atkins territory, but I was just wondering.

03-12-2011, 05:54 PM
Fiber carbs can be subtracted from total carbs. In fact, sometimes you can subtract carb calories from total calories, because humans can't digest dietary fiber (cellulose), so the calorie counts on high fiber foods can be misleading.

The confusion comes in, (the "sometimes" in the above statement), in that in the USA, manufacturer's are allowed (but do not have to) subtract the fiber calories from the total calorie count (since humans can't digest those calories, it does make sense, but the only way to tell whether the label is counting them or not, is to recheck the label's math. Because of the estimation involved it really doesn't pay to do unless the fiber count is quite high).

In my experience, processed foods generally seem to subtract the fiber calories from the total calorie count, but whole foods like canned and frozen vegetables usually do not. It makes many high-fiber vegetables seem far higher in calories than they actually are. If you're feeding green beans to your overweight cow, then you have to count the fiber calories, because she can digest cellulose. If you're eating them, you do not hae to count those cellulose calories, because humans can't digest them.

It seems misleading to include calorie counts for calories that can't be absorbed.

03-12-2011, 09:16 PM
Thanks, kaplods. I didn't realize this about fiber carbs. Really helpful post.

03-13-2011, 04:44 PM
I wanted to add carb counting to my calorie counting so I'm between 1200-1600 calories and 60-100 carbs.

03-14-2011, 11:42 PM
Kaplods gave you excellent advice. Record your calories and carbs, it is not more difficult to do both with the various online programs & apps available. Track your progress over time, and then make adjustments. It does not matter one whit what my levels are for you. They are based on my body and vary depending on my hormonal makeup throughout the month. Over time, you will know your levels.

It is a lot like basing your food budget on what your neighbors spend. Their factors are totally different from yours. You can always just start recording what you eat now then adjust down. The possiblities to approaching this are numerous.

04-12-2011, 01:17 AM
How many carbs should you eat daily?
20-50 grams for fast weight loss50-100 grams for steady weight loss100-150 grams for maintaining body weight

(I don't remember where I read this.)

I'm eating between 1200-1600 calories and keeping my (net)carbs under 50 most days.