Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, as well as fuel for vital organs, such as the kidneys, central nervous system, and brain. Healthful carbs, such as so-called complex carbs, are necessary for the body to work optimally.
Carbohydrates are broken down into a simple form of energy called glucose. The body uses insulin to carry the glucose into the cells. When too many carbohydrates are consumed, the blood sugar level spikes, insulin rises, and the result of this is often weight gain.
In this article, we take a look at how many carbs someone needs to eat to lose weight, and whether or not a low-carb diet is healthful? We also examine the best and worst sources of carbohydrates to eat.
What is a low-carb diet?
Low-carb diets may lead to rapid weight loss, but there could be side effects.
Low-carb diets restrict the number of calories a person gets by limiting their carbohydrate food sources. This includes both good and bad carbs. Low-carb diets tend to be higher in proteins and fats to compensate.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. If this supply is reduced, the body burns its stores of protein and fat for fuel.
Low-carb diets, such as the Atkins diet and the Dukan diet, have been found to lead to rapid weight loss. However, these diets are extreme and can have some unwanted side effects.
For most people, it may be healthier to take a more moderate approach when reducing carbohydrate intake to help lose weight.
How many carbs and calories should people eat to lose weight?
Although many studies indicate that low carb diets promote fast weight loss, often this reduction in weight is short-term.
Recent research supports the idea that high-quality nutrition does not just involve controlling calories that come from carbs. Instead, dieters should pay attention to how many calories are ingested from all food sources, including carbohydrates, protein, and fats, and find a healthy balance.
In a recent study, dieters were observed to compare the different weight losses that resulted from a low-fat diet (LFD) and a low-carb diet (LCD). The researchers found that after 6 months of following calorie-reduction diets, weight changes were similar for both the LFD and LCD groups.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that an adult’s total daily calories come from the following:
- 45–65 percent carbohydrates
- 10–30 percent protein
- 20–35 percent fat
Some nutritionists recommend a ratio of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat as a good target for healthy weight loss.
A 1,500 calorie diet with 40 percent carbohydrates translates to 600 calories per day from carbs. Using a ratio of 4 calories per gram (g) of carbs, a person on this diet would need to eat 150 g of carbohydrates per day.
This 1,500 calorie diet would also include 450 calories or 112 g of protein, and 450 calories or 50 g of fat per day.