A Beginner’s Guide to Carbs

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A Beginner’s Guide to Carbs

Ever since the introduction of carb-cutting diets some 20 years ago, carbohydrates have been a source of nutritional controversy, particularly among those trying to lose weight. The science to support low-carb diets has been conflicting at best—but this isn’t surprising since we all know that nutrition needs are highly individual, particularly where weight loss is concerned.

Because individual carbohydrate needs aren’t one-size-fits-all, we’ve put together an informational guide to help you personally optimize your carbohydrate consumption and choose healthier carb options—whether you’re trying to lose weight or train for your first half-marathon (or anything in between).

carb basics subhead

Carbohydrates are found in almost all foods, and they provide 4 calories for every gram. As you can imagine, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Different types of carbohydrates will affect your body (and blood sugar) differently.

Carbohydrate-containing foods generally have a combination of two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES

They’re also known as “sugar.” This carbohydrate is made of one sugar or two sugar building blocks connected in a chain. The building blocks can be glucose, fructose and galactose. Because the chains are short, they’re easy to break down, which is why they taste sweet when they hit your tongue. Foods high in simple carbohydrates include sweeteners (table sugar, syrup, honey), candies, jellies and jams, fruits, beans and refined flour.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES

Complex carbs can be either “starch” or “fiber.” This carbohydrate is made of three or more sugars connected in a chain. They use the same sugar building blocks as simple carbs, but the chains are longer and take more time to break down, which is why they don’t taste as sweet. Foods high in complex carbohydrates include bread, rice, pasta, beans, whole grains and vegetables.

quick tip fiber

For even more on carbohydrates, check out this Nutrition 101 post.

Just looking at a nutrition label, you’ll see “dietary fiber” and “sugar” listed under “total carbohydrates,” but do you ever wonder why the grams never add up? “Total carbohydrate” includes all the types of carbohydrates: sugar, fiber and starch. Sugar and fiber get a starring role on the nutrition label because we care about them. However, starch doesn’t, so if you want to figure out how much starch a food contains, you have to do some math. Here’s the formula in case you’re interested:

total starch (grams) = total carbohydrate (g) – dietary fiber (g) – sugar (g)

carb needs subhead

Carbohydrates are essential to life, and they’re found in almost all foods. To perform basic functions, our bodies need carbs, particularly glucose since it’s the preferred fuel for tissues and organs. In fact, glucose is the only source of fuel for our red blood cells. Without enough carbohydrates, the body will break down hard-earned protein from muscles and organs to create usable glucose for these tissues and organs.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for carbohydrates is 130 grams per day. This is the minimum amount required to fuel an adult’s brain, red blood cells and central nervous system optimally. What happens when you eat too few carbs? Without enough carbohydrates to maintain your blood sugar in a happy range, the body starts breaking down protein (which it can turn into glucose) to bring blood sugar back to normal. This is terrible news—you lose some of your lean muscle during this process!

Of course we’re expected to eat more than the RDA of 130 grams carbohydrates per day: According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65% of total calories in our diet—this is a good range for the average person. But, our bodies are adaptable so there’s no one-size-fit-all guidance for the absolute amount of carbs you should consume.

The 45-65% carbohydrate range is such a big one, and it may be difficult to pinpoint the right percentage. If you do not manually adjust your macronutrient goals, MyFitnessPal allots 50% of your calories to carbohydrates, but we encourage you to change these goals based on what your personal needs are. If you’re not sure what percentage might be most appropriate, read more about how to optimize your macronutrient ranges, or follow this general rule of thumb:

text box carbs

To determine your carbohydrate needs in grams:

  • Step 1: Decide what percentage of carbohydrates you need. Choose a 45%, 50%, 60% or 65% carbohydrate diet. Convert this number to a decimal (for example, 50% is 0.5).
  • Step 2: Multiply your “Total Calorie Goal” by the decimal value. This gives you the number of calories from carbohydrates.
  • Step 3: Take the number of calories from carbohydrates and divide by 4 to get the grams of carbohydrate.

Does this match your carbohydrate goal in the app?

carb range quick tip

higher-carb regimen subhead

Eating a higher-carbohydrate diet is beneficial to performance for daily exercise in moderate to vigorous aerobic activity (think running, swimming, biking). Why? Because the more carbs you eat, the more glucose you allow your body to store in the form of muscle glycogen. The more glycogen you store, the more fuel you have available for your next bout of exercise.

For optimal athletic performance, it’s the absolute amount of carbohydrate (in grams) you eat that matters, not the percentage of total calories that comes from carbs. If it’s something you’re interested in, use this general guideline to calculate the recommended grams of carbs you should eat daily to enhance athletic performance. Use these calculations to change your carbohydrate goal in the MyFitnessPal app.

 

Type of Activity Recommended Carbohydrate
Very light training program 3-5 grams/kg
Moderate-intensity training programs, 60 min/day 5-7 grams/kg
Moderate- to high-intensity endurance exercise, 1-3 hours/day 6-10 grams/kg
Moderate- to high-intensity exercise, 4-5 hours/day 8-12 grams/kg

Source:  C.A. Rosenbloom, E.J. Coleman (Eds.) Sports Nutrition A Practice Manual for Professionals. 5th edition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chicago, IL; 2012.

If you’re a runner, you can learn more about “carbohydrate loading” and how to adjust carbohydrate goals for running.

lower-carb lifestyle subhead

A traditional “low-carb” diet has 40% or less calories coming from carbohydrates, and there’s no denying that many have lost weight and kept it off successfully with this lifestyle. It’s popular for a reason, but it certainly is not the only way to lose weight—and it may not be for everyone. Eating a low-carb diet (especially a restrictive one) affects your blood sugar levels, which can adversely affect how you feel. It may also be tough to maintain over time. Carbohydrate cravings are common at the beginning of a low-carb diet because your blood sugar may dip lower than the level your body is accustomed. You can experience unfavorable side effects as your body adjusts to this new state. The low down on low blood sugar: we all experience it differently and to different degrees. The signs and symptoms are general enough that they could be caused by issues other than low blood sugar. They range from being mildly to downright uncomfortable and include shakiness, nervousness or anxiety, chills, irritability, lightheadedness, headaches, hunger, nausea, fatigue, blurred vision, lack of coordination and more. Depending on your individual reaction to eating low carb, you may have none to many of the signs and symptoms described.If you choose to experiment with a lower-carb lifestyle, here are six tips to make the transition both more manageable and sustainable:

1. DEAL WITH BLOOD SUGAR LOWS

It may be tough to tell your reaction to low blood sugar since it varies from person to person. When starting a low-carb diet, be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar (see above). If you experience them, eat a small serving of a carbohydrate-rich snack such as a piece of fruit, some crackers or a slice of bread.

2. EASE INTO A LOWER-CARB LIFESTYLE USING THE MYFITNESSPAL APP AS A TOOL

Use the app to track your food for at least a week so you have a good understanding of how many grams of carbohydrates you consume daily. Then, slowly step down your carbohydrate intake goal by 5-10% (or about 30-50 grams daily) each week until you reach your desired goal. Remember to increase your fat and protein goals in order to offset the carbohydrates you’re reducing from your diet.

3. CHOOSE BALANCED, NUTRIENT-DENS FOODS

Make those carbs count by choosing high-quality carbohydrate foods—like whole grains, fruits and vegetables—that are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Choose high-quality proteins like eggs, legumes, chicken, tofu and lean cuts of beef and pork. Opt for healthy fats from foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as fish, nuts, avocados and olive oil.

4. STAY HYDRATED BY DRINKING MORE FLUIDS

If you’re slashing carbs, you’ll most likely eat (and digest) more protein. For your body to break down and use protein optimally, it’s going to need plenty of water. To help you stay hydrated, here are 25 life hacks for drinking more water.

5. BE WARY OF RAPID WEIGHT LOSS

If you shed more than 2 pounds per week on your diet, be careful. You’re likely losing more water weight and lean muscle than fat. Up your calories to lose weight at a slow but fat-busting pace.

6, GAUGE YOUR HAPPINESS, AND KNOW WHEN TO ADD BACK THE BREAD

Be honest with yourself: Are you happy eating low-carb foods? Do you feel good? Our bodies can adapt to eating varying amounts of carbohydrates, but for some, the carbohydrate cravings and blood sugar side effects can be constant struggles. If you feel like your diet is a little too low in carbohydrates, don’t be afraid to add some back. Aggressively cutting carbs isn’t the only way to lose weight, and certainly isn’t for everyone. Keep this in mind because you’re more likely to stick to your goals, lose weight and keep it off if you feel good and are happy with what goes into your body.

better carbs subhead

Whether you’re a healthy individual looking to lose or maintain weight, or optimize athletic performance, here are three rules of thumb to help you choose healthy carbohydrate foods. One caveat: If you’re a highly athletic person whose desire is to optimize performance, not all of these carb rules will apply to you. Read this instead.

1. CHOOSE WHOLE FOOD SOURCES OF COMPLEX CARBS

Vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, one-hundred percent whole-grain breads, pasta and brown rice should also be included in this rule. These foods are a source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein.

2. EAT LESS COMPLEX CARBS FROM REFINED SOURCES

Foods like white rice, white bread and traditional pasta are more processed, and have healthy nutrients stripped from them—namely fiber.

3. ENJOY SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES IN MODERATION

Most sources of simple carbohydrates are considered “empty calories” because they’re high in calories but contain low to no micronutrients. They’re a likely culprit when it comes to spiking blood sugar. You can consider fruit and milk an exception to this rule because both contain beneficial vitamins and minerals.

simple sugars quick tip

Related

  • Michelle

    Carbs have 3.4 kcals– were u just rounding up to 4?!

  • Toni

    This is perhaps the most idiotic thing I’ve ever read.
    That is all.

    • noemi

      Appreciate the effort the author put in, you might not appreciate this article, but I find it somewhat interesting. Sure, it might not be 100% accurate, but hey– it’s pretty helpful! I learned a little or so, and I’m sure you had too 🙂

      • Toni

        I “learned” that nutritionists toe the conventional wisdom line (something I already knew) – the same thinking that has resulted in Americans becoming fatter and sicker over the past 50 years. First – high carb eating is what causes drops in blood sugar! The high highs are followed by low lows. as someone who has suffered from reactive hypoglycemia since childhood, I can tell you that low carb eating has spared me a lot of dangerous moments! Avoiding the glucose spiking foods and sticking to a high fat, moderate protein diet not only helps me effectively manage my weight, but I haven’t had a single hypoglycemic episode since starting this way of eating.

        Low carb eating stabilizes blood glucose levels. Sure you go through the “low carb flu” for a few days, or even a couple of weeks, but once you body adjusts (which will NEVER happen if you follow the author’s advice – to eat a few cracker while starting a low carb diet – WHAT? we are now all dumber for having just read that), your blood sugar will be on an even keel all the time. That means no more being ravenously hungry two hours after a meal. Which in turn helps control your calorie intake. If you are full and satiated, you will eat less overall.

        • Cal Baize

          I totally agree with you Toni

        • Samantha Marie

          I was questioning that too. I’m also hypoglycemic, and I control my blood sugar my managing my carbs. If I go over 50% in a day I’m in danger the next 24 hours. I’ve had to almost completely eliminate simple sugars and only eating whole grain and starches in moderation with a balance of protein. Like you said, the higher the carb content, the higher the blood sugar, the worse the insulin crash will be.

        • Annette Nucaro

          I have to chime in. I weighed at my very highest weight 7/17/2012 320 lbs. I was at The University of Iowa. I saw a nutritionist there. She gave me a great diet to follow. To save my life.
          No carbonation EVER AGAIN!
          (The bubbly blows up the stomach, and leaves you in a constant state of hunger.)
          If you drink diet soda or reg soda STOP. Try ice tea, green tea, coffee, Chrystal light energy, mio energy. (However the they wish I stayed away from fake sweetner all together. But it is SO much better than carbonation.)
          15 carbs & 15 grams of protein per meal 3X’s/Daily
          3 snacks daily= 8-10 oz skim milk (Even skim chocolate milk, if you’re still hungry I drank carnation breakfast powder with my milk for snacks for the first 3 months!)
          or 6 oz yogurt
          (dairy snack, string cheese..)
          Any fruit or veggie I wanted I didn’t have to count the carbs.
          The other thing they had me do was not drink 15 min before my meal & 20 min after I finished eating! This was the magic solution!
          Why?! Because if you do, it washes all the food out of your stomach, and never gives it an opportunity to tell your brain hey brain I ate 15 grams of protein…can you put that in my bloodstream for me and feed it to all the organs that need it. Etc..So your brain is NEVER satisfied. If you wait 20 min to drink after you eat, the weight will FALL off! I weigh 138lbs now! I also started Zumba, and after I lost almost 100 lbs I had Gastric Bypass but! I still eat this way, it’s been ALMOST 3 years and I still have ALL my weight off! If I didn’t follow that diet, I wouldn’t be thin. I no longer have type two diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, acid reflex, Sjogren’s syndrome, terrible sleep apnea, I was unable to move to get out of my bed now I can jump out of bed I was never able to get up from sitting on the ground now I do planks I can do push ups & sit ups! It’s amazing! Thank you Jesus!

          • Rena

            Annette your diet sounds interesting. You said you had 15g of carbs and protein ate each meal, 3 meals a day, and 3 snacks of milk or string cheese. I get that however you mentioned you could eat all the veggies and fruit you wanted and didn’t count the carbs…that I don’t understand. Would you explain farther. Thank you.

          • Annette Nucaro

            To help answer that. The nutritionist suggested 3-5 fruits or veggies a day. I should have been more clear. I would always have 1 banana every day sometimes that would be frozen and blended with my milk for a snack with chocolatePB2 and protein powder. I also often added blueberries to my breakfast or carry an apple, or 15 grapes in my purse. I made sure to eat 2 large servings of vegetables per day. I hope this helps clarify. ~Annette

          • Rena

            Yes it did. Thank you, Rena

          • usirish

            Annette what did you eat for breakfast? I’m just curious.
            Thanks.

          • Annette Nucaro

            Thank you for asking. I had/have a variety of breakfast. If I was in a hurry I would have nature Valley protein Greek yogurt mixed berry bars 10 g of protein and only 17 carbs 190 cal very good! I ate that with a small banana. Then wait the 15-20 min and have my morning coffee with creamer (flavored, it is the one treat I allowed myself this whole time and I counted it as my dairy full fat not sugar-free)
            another breakfast option was One egg anyway you like it if you do scrambled you can add any vegetables you like with it and even toss some shredded cheese on top of it for an omelette and I would have one piece of Sara Lee whole wheat bread the 45 cal. I added real butter to it 1 tablespoon and that would be my fat for the day I added 1 teaspoon or 2 teaspoons of my favorite jam or jelly or sometimes I sliced real fruit on top of the to I added real butter to it 1 tablespoon and that would be my fat for the day I added 1 teaspoon or 2 teaspoons of my favorite jam or jelly or sometimes I sliced real strawberries & put them on top of the toast. Another staple of mine was PB to it is a powder form of peanut butter and I got the chocolate PB two it is very low fat you could have a lot more for very low calories it’s found in most health markets or your local grocery stores. It another staple of mine was PB to it is a powder form of peanut butter and I got the chocolate PB two it is very low fat you could have a lot more for very low calories it’s found in most health markets or your local stores. It’s powder Penut butter. Add water! Or I had oatmeal with banana just the instant oatmeal and some days I would only have half a packet of oatmeal if I was having a full banana and again I waited 15 minutes and then had my morning coffee or hot tea . another thing that’s really good is chopped up apples with a tablespoon of butter and put that in the microwave with oatmeal on top dry oatmeal and Stevia on top of that with cinnamon! these are some examples the other stable was Greek yogurt and a piece of toast with PB two on it. let me know if you have any other questions sorry I am so long-winded just trying to help you ☺️

          • usirish

            Thank you so much. I Havel high cholesterol whenever I eat saturated fat – I’m in the 1/3 of people with that problem when going lower carb. I also need to loose about 20 – 30 lbs. My dr. wants
            me on statins but I said no. I want to try diet first and I may do your diet plan. It sounds so healthy.

          • Annette Nucaro

            This will work! I’ll be praying for you!

          • usirish

            Thank you so much. Another thought I had was what you eat for lunch. All of your comments have been so helpful.
            Today I’m going to look for the pb2 and the Nature Valley protein bar.

          • Annette Nucaro

            Oh good! I lived on those bars! Not really, they were just so helpful to have on hand. I always had a couple in my purse or in my car so I would never get fast food if I was really hungry. For lunch I would have jumbo shrimp I would warm it up in the microwavefirst after it was warm I drained all the excess water off it and rinsed it off and then I would add 1 tablespoon of melted butter to it and sprinkled Parmesan on it and it was fabulous. First after it was warm I drained all the excess water off it and rinsed it off and then I would add 1 tablespoon of melted butter to it and sprinkled Parmesan on it and it was fabulous. I also had Caesar salad often with shredded Parmesan and full fat Caesar dressing because it’s only one car per serving. Or I would have one piece of toast, I also had Caesar salad often with shredded Parmesan and full fat Caesar dressing because it’s only one car per serving. Or I would have one piece of toast I chose pumpernickel bread or healthy choice bread because it was very large and hearty. You can lightly butter it with real butter and I would either have turkey on it or tuna that was mixed with mayo the light mayo or the miracle whip (fat free) with a pickle or however you make it. And I would have a fruit with all of my lunches as well some people like to have applesauce or a Greek yogurt with their lunch that works too. I also liked to have French onion soup for lunch and I would have a small salad with that that’s another option. another thing I liked to do is have a small cheese plate with bruschetta I would just try to stay under the 15 carbs worth of whatever crackers I chose or bread sometimes 20 carbs. I hope this is helpful ☺️

          • usirish

            That sounds just wonderful. It is hard to believe that is still a diet with everything sounding so tasty!
            Thank you so much for all of your help. I feel much better about starting this program.

          • LongTimeFed

            Why skim milk? Everybody now says regular milk is good for you.

          • Annette Nucaro

            You can drink full fat milk as well. That is just the “Diet” they had me on.

        • BuzzPreston

          Amen! I have been eating low carb for years and have maintained a high level of health and fitness without any of the “problems” pushed by the mainstream nutrition “experts”. You’re right about their allegiance to the Big Med-Big Food complex. I am 72, 6′, 175 lbs. with a 32 inch waist. I do three 20-30 minute HIRT workouts, and 1-2 20-30 minute HIIT cardio workouts, (mostly hill sprints), My nutrition profile is 2000 calories composed of 25% protein, 10% carbs, 65% fat, much of it saturated. My blood panel, in my doctors words, is that of a Blood Panel Poster Child. All you have to do is read a little bit to realize that restricted carbohydrate eating has been working for many people since the mid 19th century. Why the experts choose to adhere to Ansel Keyes antiquated and WRONG hypothesis is a question that can be answered one way only – follow the money. As long as Big Food supplies most of the money for nutrition research and their powerful congressional lobbies, nothing will change. And don’t expect any helpful advice from the USDA or FDA either, unless you want to follow a Kansas Livestock Feed Lot diet.

  • mateolondres

    I enjoy a plant-based diet and I restrict carbs to 20g per day. The benefits include high energy levels and improved mental function. Ever since I became fully adapted to the keto metabolic pathway, my running and yoga practice have improved because my body is trained to quickly access the energy stored in my fat. The author proposes that I switch to a diet that would reduce my brain’s fuel sources to only one: glucose. No, thank you. I prefer being able to perform without “hits” of carbs whenever my 2 teaspoons of blood glucose — the maximum reserve we humans can store — is expended.

    • Linda Nelson

      I would love to do this. (Restrict carbs to 20g/day). Would you mind sharing what your typical day’s menu looks like?

      • Eric Kelley

        Proteins and vegetables. Carbs will come from vegetables nuts and seeds.

      • mateolondres

        Here’s the enormous salad that I’m eating as I type this: romaine hearts, the oil from a nearly empty bottle of sun-dried tomatoes, Bragg’s liquid amino acids, apple cider vinegar, feta cheese, butterbeans, sesame seeds. (Usually I will add some type of olives, sprouts, green onions, etc.)

        This meal is somewhat representative of my diet: 377 calories, 6g net carbs, 22g protein, 30g fat. (Goal is roughly 10%/30%/60%)

        • Steve

          Avocado for scale! Brilliant.

      • mateolondres

        Here’s the enormous salad that I’m eating as I type this: romaine hearts, the oil from a nearly empty bottle of sun-dried tomatoes, Bragg’s liquid amino acids, apple cider vinegar, feta cheese, butterbeans, sesame seeds. (Usually I will add some type of olives, sprouts, green onions, etc.)

        This meal is somewhat representative of my diet: 377 calories, 6g net carbs, 22g protein, 30g fat. (Goal is roughly 10%/30%/60%)

        Avocado for scale.

    • This is good! I tried keto diet for a month but it failed and loss a lot of muscle mass me since I do very heavy weights. But I admit, I was very mentally alert when I only had 50g of carbs or less in a day.

      • mateolondres

        Have you ever looked into the ketogains community?

        • Peggy Taylor

          What is the ketogains community?

          • mateolondres

            Folks who incorporate ketosis into their fitness regimen in order to improve athletic performance.

          • Any forum or site you could recommend?

          • Nila

            r/ketogains

      • Christopher Campagna

        Based on my experience, you probably didn’t lose muscle, but were feeling weak as your body converted over from using sugar as a fuel to using ketones as a fuel. Your musicles need time to adapt and learn to use ketones. The first time i went on a ketogenic diet, I was shocked when I went on a bike ride and nearly couldn’t finish it (about 2 weeks into the diet). A month into the diet I was back to original riding form. You are correct about the mental alertness, too.

      • Cal Baize

        I experienced tremendous mass gains on HFLC lifestyle change. I dropped my 200 gms of protein per day low carb diet for High fat low carb. All of my protein was being converted to sugar. keto is protein sparing. You lost water not muscle or didn’t fully adapt. A starvation mode diet such as keto’s job is to spare muscle at all cost. Also remember it is the intensity you lift with not the weight and its is important o cycle your routines. If you continue to lift heavy you arel eventually likely to suffer disability.

        • Grayson

          That’s some pretty bad advice “if you continue to lift heavy you are eventually likely to suffer disability.” Is there a chance, sure. Is it likely, no. I powerlift myself and much prefer my strength gains over the broken down knees some runners end up with (notice I said some and didn’t generalize them).
          Lift heavy all your life if you enjoy it, or run if you enjoy it (or do crossfit, we need those people doing swinging pull ups to have a laugh at between sets).

          • Cal Baize

            Sorry I may have misrepresented myself,,,Ill clarify. I didn’t intend to say you shouldn’t lift heavy, I’m in great shape having lifted most of my life, but. I now fight every day injuries from pushing myself harder than necessary. Be careful,,,, because as you age,,,, a heavy bench press or squat wont be as important as maintaining good optimal strength and health. As I look back upon several surgeries, I would have been better off not lifting so heavy. My interest is in bodybuilding not power-lifting. In this sport I believe injuries are inevitable not just likely. These injuries may haunt you every day in the gym. If your goals are professional well go ahead an take the risk. I like cross-fit and hiit training and I hate long low steady state cardio.

          • Grayson

            So, don’t take this personally, but after I said it was bad advice, you apologized and made it even worse lol. Now instead of saying it’s likely you’ll be hurt powerlifting, you’re saying it 100% will happen (your quote “In this sport I believe injuries are inevitable not just likely.”). That’s really terrible to be telling people because it’s 100% inaccurate. You can’t just pull things out of the air and tell people that, because some people who are starting to train are impressionable.
            If you don’t know what you’re doing, sure (same as anything). If you push too hard, sure (same as anything). If you know what you can push and keep your form, you’re good to go. Are there anomalies? Sure, like there is in anything, Car racers crash. Are you 100% gonna crash if you start racing nascar…nope. That said, crossfit “teaches” people to forget how to gain and move properly, so that could be a problem in the future for you (may be, I’m not saying “it’s inevitable.” Although I’d say it’s easier to throw your back out swinging a kettle bell around than it is power squatting with good form).

          • Cal Baize

            Grayson, I’m a physician who treats orthopedic injuries both conservatively and surgically. Trust me I’m not pulling things out of the air. What is a persons limit? You may not know until you surpass it. Be careful, you may not need to push as hard as you are to experience great gains and keep the long term goals in mind.

          • Grayson

            Again, no offense meant, but telling people they will be hurt doing something and then going on record as a physician saying it. Blown away. I have to mention this to a bodybuilder friend (not powerlifter, but still lifts heavy) who also happens to be a kinesiologist. Maybe you’ve encountered people who’ve been hurt at it. I’m sure you have. But I know lots of guys who still hit up my training gym in their 60’s and 70’s and have no issues. Unless you’ve spoke to every powerlifter ever and know they are hurt, you can’t say that. I’m actually blown away you’d make that statement, then state you’re a professional. No one would ever make that assumption. Is every hockey layer going to have future injuries? Every wrestler? Fighter? The answer is no. Same as powerlifting. That’s like me saying every foolish looking crossfitter is going to have a concussion because I saw one at a different gym (seriously, the way they do pull ups, slipped, head went smash. I couldn’t even laugh it looked that painful).

    • Linda Nelson

      thanks so much for your reply. I’ve been out of pocket for a few days and just now replying. Your lunch looks great…What do your breakfasts and dinner typically look like?

      • mateolondres

        Some of my breakfasts: Salted avocado drizzled in oil and vinegar; quiche cupcake; 2 eggs with fried zucchini or spinach; almond/coconut flour pancakes; curried soy bean scramble with green onions.

        Some dinners/sides: sliced celeriac cashew cheese or cheddar cheese casserole (say that three times fast!); creamy cabbage curry (I swear I’m not doing this on purpose) with tofu; garlic cauliflower mash; leek and mushroom soup with bouillon; miso with wakame; daikon cashew “rice” with dried coconut “chicken” strips in tahini sauce topped with sesame seeds and cilantro.

        As for salads, I have a matrix of ingredients in my head, so I just mix and match the components for greens, dressings, and toppings that fit within my carb limit.

    • Tyler Mueller

      A plant diet is a good choice to go, but most plants you eat are going to be considered simple carbohydrates so you are probably eating more carbs than you actually think you are. This is a good thing though because we get most of our energy from carbohydrates. Do you like to eat a lot of fruit with your plant based diet? Either way thanks for the post, and keeph the diet!

      • mateolondres

        Tyler, I use MyFitnessPal to keep track of what I eat, so I do know how many carbohydrates I eat each day. I’m not sure where you got that information about energy from carbohydrates. Our bodies are well-equipped to produce their own glucose through a metabolic pathway called gluconeogenesis. Many people who’ve made the switch to this “base” or “primary” metabolic pathway report improved energy.

      • Komrad

        I’ve had bad luck with plants. They go bad before I eat them, so I end up throwing out way more than I eat. There was a time that I lived close to where I worked and I could run home and make a salad for lunch. Nowadays I batch cook meals that I can freeze and eat a week or 2 after I made them to save time .

        I do miss the days I could have salads though!

  • rademan

    Carbs have a bad rep these days but to me this low carb thing is just another fad that will pass. I’ve tried Atkins/low-carb diets of one form or another many times over the past 12 years, but on average, my attempts have lasted about a 1-2 weeks. I just can’t imagine living without carbs. For me, the key to success was alternating between high- and low-carb days ( more about carb cycling: everydayhealthhero.com/can-carb-cycling-help-you-lose-weight). Been using this method for about 3 months. Doing well! I have lost 16 lbs and feeling excited to continue.

    • mateolondres

      It’s awesome that your diet works for you! I follow a very low carb diet. One thing our diets have in common is that they both recognize the role carbs play in regulating between our two metabolisms. Sadly, this article is rooted in old-fashioned notions of a one-metabolism body.

    • Kyle Berggren

      Fyi, 1-2 weeks is not enough time to to lose carb cravings. That process takes about 3-4 weeks.

    • Toni

      Yes, low carb is a “fad”. A “fad” that’s been around for over 100 years (google “banting diet”). Yes, alternating between high and low carb days can work – for those who are fortunate enough to be insulin sensitive. However, for diabetics, those with metabolic syndrome, and for those with insulin resistance/pre-diabetes, high carb days are an extremely bad idea.

      If you only gave low carb eating 1-2 weeks, that’s simply not enough time to adjust (that’s like quitting smoking for 1-2 weeks and saying ‘I can’t imagine living without cigarettes’ – you haven’t given your body long enough to adjust!). If you make a commitment to stick with it for at least 4 weeks (6 is better), you will likely find that your cravings go away. Then you can make a rational decision about whether or not low carb eating is for you.

      • Liz Trekkiemaiden Morgan

        Been around for thousands of years not just 100!! If you’re eating natural, homecooked low carb food then you’re eating closer to our natural diet, what we evolved on!! This article is so full of inacurices like “carbohydrates are essential for life!! There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. “Any biology or medical biochemistry literature will confirm this simple
        fact: the human body has no dietary requirement for carbohydrates.” Glucose yes, is essential but sufficient glucose to fuel those few parts of the body (brain eyes.. that can only use glucose ) can be created by the body via gluconeogenisis from protein that we consume. Ketones, created via fat burning (whether it’s our own body’s fat or nutritional fat) are the purest, cleanest if you like, and healthiest fuel for our bodies. Burning constant glucose is not healthy in the long term for most of us. Don’t even need “need” carbs for sports. However eating would be a lot less pleasurable without them, so choose non-starch vegetables, (usually the grown- above ground ones) and berries for desert. Use copious amounts of butter to make them extra delicious, and if you know you’re ok with dairy put cream on your berries. Cook with coconut oil, or even lard/dripping. This isn’t a diet, it’s a way of eating for life. Delicious, satisfying foods, that free your body from sugar crashes and being preoccupied with thoughts about the next thing that will go in your mouth! Trinh Le is just spouting the party line I’m afraid and needs to update her nutritional science. (read

        The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Volek & Phinney)

        • Nicki Stern

          Excellent info here, Ms. Trekkiemaiden.

        • Dave

          I couldn’t help but notice “This article is so full of inacurices like “carbohydrates are essential for life!!” Sort of poetic justice.

          It seems to me that nobody really knows what is the best way to diet, and everybody seems to have a different opinion. One thing that is without doubt is: a little of what you fancy does you good; a lot of what you fancy does you in!

          I have done the very low-calorie diet, and it definitely worked. Eventually my body got used to low food intake, and when I started eating normally, my body grabbed onto it, fearing that it may be deprived of food in the future. I feel that is the reason that people say you put it all back on again after you stop dieting. Well I haven’t put it all back on again, but I can’t really allow myself to enjoy eating what I really like, which is chocolate, cakes, and all those other naughty treats.

          • Steve

            Did you mean a low carb diet? As a low carb diet isn’t necessarily low calorie.

    • Eric Kelley

      I can’t imagine living without carbs either. That’s why I eat them on my cheat day and have lost 30 lbs in the last 3 months.

      • Cindy

        Way to go!! How many carbs do you eat on your cheat day?

        • Eric Kelley

          All of them. I don’t track it but I eat anything and everything. Candy pizza hash browns pasta. By the end of the day I feel terrible.

    • Cal Baize

      Well sorry I didnt read the rest of your post I stopped after low carb is a fad.

  • Kyle Berggren

    Recommending carbs to someone converting to low carb will only further delay the ketogenic process from working and cause a continuation of those listed symptoms. It will take a solid 2 weeks to adapt and another 8 weeks for full athletic adaptation. Has the author ever even tried low carb before suggesting this kind of advice? I have been living low carb for almost 3 years and I have never felt better in my life. I lift 3 days a week and run 2-3 days per week with zero issues.

  • Guest

    I would also disagree with this article. I am a healthcare provider who works in a family practice whose physicians have started a wellness program based on NOT seeing health benefits from medications and “calorie-in calorie-out” diets. We are seeing patients REVERSE chronic, deadly disease processes like diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, heart disease, vascular disease, and even inflammatory diseases of the GI system and joints by drastically decreasing carbs and increasing healthy fats! The science behind it is fascinating!!

    • Ken DeFilipps

      Thank you very much for your comments and I couldn’t agree more. The idea suggested in this article that 40% of one’s caloric intake should be 40-50% is absurd. This line of thinking is responsible for most chronic diseases in the US today – and modern science supports this. This author is credentialed, but she really needs to re-educate herself.

  • Amruther6

    I would also disagree with this article. I am a healthcare provider who works in a family practice whose physicians have started a wellness program based on NOT seeing health benefits from medications and “calorie-in calorie-out” diets. We are seeing patients REVERSE chronic, deadly disease processes like diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, heart disease, vascular disease, and even inflammatory diseases of the GI system and joints by drastically decreasing carbs and increasing healthy fats! The medical science behind it is fascinating!!

  • Melece Hall

    Thank you, I really enjoyed reading this article. Finally, something to support my own beliefs about carbs. Carbohydrates are very important to our bodies, you just need the right ones. The number calculated for me to be right on with the amount of carbs recommended in my food diary. And, I’ve been consistently losing weight by staying in those numbers.

    • BuzzPreston

      You and Jessica and Michelle need to catch up on your reading. Jessica, most importantly, is going to be an RD. If she thinks this article what’s needed, she is going to continue to do what the nutrition experts have been doing since the 70’s; continue to promote world wide obesity and disease, which follows the typical Western Diet wherever it goes.

  • Geoff Hatfield

    Thanks for the post. I have been questioning the difference in calories types since energy is energy. It was a good explanation.

  • Joseph Ponzo

    I am confused about 2 things in this carb. discussion,
    1. Are we talking about net Carbs? Carbs – fiber
    2. When I work out… I get extra calories to spend.. does this increase the amount of carbs.

    Does this effect any carbs I should eat?

    • Peggy Taylor

      I’ve been trying to figure that out as well!

  • Christopher Campagna

    The author lost me with the first sentence. William Bantings “Letter on Corpulence” was published in 1860. Dr. Adkins was espousing low carb diets in the 70’s. Your grandmother could have told you that eating sugary foods makes you fat. It’s a little more than 20 years old.
    Then there’s the science that is “conflicting at best” comment. There’s no conflict in the fact that insulin controls the metabolism of sugar.

    • Nicki Stern

      Right on!

  • Nicki Stern

    Very poor and outdated article. Author needs retraining. The body does NOT need carbs to survive, as other more eloquent commenters have already pointed out here. Certainly not the dangerous levels she recommends.

  • Cathy

    Carbs (in moderation or the occasional binge) are much more fun to eat than lettuce and cabbage! Everything in moderation. Enjoy living and what you eat!

    • gordondev

      Lettuce and cabbage are carbohydrates, as well. You can keep them, though. I find bacon and eggs far more fun and satisfying to eat than any carbohydrate.

  • Cal Baize

    I’m also a physician who treats many diabetic. I would also disagree with this article. We are observing patients reverse disease and reduce if not eliminate medications. Not everyone requires a low card diet but I could can and do envision many many benefits. I diligently reduced calories and exercise over a year and was unsuccessful. It took a high fat nearly zero carbs and the weight fell off. Once adapted I lost cravings and had much better energy, workouts and mental clarity. My lipid profile improved and I have witnessed many other patients experience the same results. Don’t be afraid of the fat but you must limit the carbohydrates which are converted to sugar.

  • Suzanne

    I’m an Obesity Medicine Specialist running a childhood obesity clinic and I have to say that this article makes me have to reconsider recommending MyFitnessPal to my patients. It is scientifically inaccurate, and full of advice contrary to what we give our patients. I measure body composition as well as height, weight and BMI at every monthly visit and I never see loss in muscle mass over loss in fat mass with low carb diets. When muscle mass decreases, it is in proportion to the decrease in weight. Even rapidly growing children will demonstrate increase in stature while decreasing body fat and maintaining or losing only an appropriate amount of muscle mass on low carb diets. There is no decrease in their athletic ability or endurance. I strongly recommend against the gradual reduction of carbohydrates which the author suggests will alleviate the “bad effects.” A gradual reduction just provides a continual battle ground between children and parents and most of the parents need to make significant reductions in their weight. I work with dieticians who teach and reinforce the low carb diet and we also work with schools and camps, etc. to address as many of the feeding situations as possible. It’s too bad that MyFitnessPal allowed this misinformation to be published.

    • LongTimeFed

      Maybe you could write an article. I don’t understand carbs at all.

      • gordondev

        Does the MFP staff allow volunteer authors? It’d be cool if they did. I’d love to see more like Suzanne and the others on here who don’t toe the medical industry’s party line.

  • V reed

    Ahhh. Another “blogger” touting old science like it’s fact. I stopped reading at “carbohydrates are essential for life, especially glucose as preferred fuel”….what drug compamy do you work for?! Read up on current science. You may have to use a computer rather than a card catalogue.

  • rny

    Interesting article. thanks. When will myfitnesspal add a line to track net carbs vs. total carbs which it currently is. adding net carbs would give your subscriber base the option of following their own customized efforts.

    • Peggy Taylor

      I want to know the same thing! Net carbs is so much more of a valuable tool than total carbs! Hey Fitness Pal – are you listening??

  • Kitch71

    Article is very misleading. I am a bloke who 15 weeks ago was 16st 9lbs. Interval training, core body work with free weights and a 4 mile run each week, combined with good use of MyFitnessPal app and 1800 calories per day limit (net after exercise) and keeping carbs under 30% has resulted in new weight 14st 6lbs.
    No white bread. Limit brown bread. No rice. No pasta. Very few potatoes. Success.
    Don’t miss the high carbs at all.

  • sabrina bilter

    Great discussion everyone. My Husband and I have been eating 20 carbs a day since March ( 2 months ). We have never felt better. I have a office job so I sit for 8 hrs a day with two breaks and a 30 min lunch. Tom works in Retail and never sits at all. We have two different type daily routines. Our energy level is awesome. After just two months he has lost 12 pounds and I have lost 7 and we are thrilled. Men always have better progress because they have muscle and most women are flabby. I have found that it takes muscle or firmness in my case to speed up the weight loss so I started riding my bike. We are eating meat, eggs, cheese and green veg’s. No breading on our meat. I learned how to make mac n cheese out of cauliflower and also mashed potatoes. We gained weight throughout our 30 yrs of marriage eating homemade pasta type casserole recipes and other starches. We just finished having our annual physicals at the Doctor and our numbers were awesome. Tom drinks one 3 carb beer a night so he doesn’t feel deprived and I don’t drink unless it’s social. I just don’t care for drinking myself. We feel so much better eating 3 to 5 veg’s a day with meat, eggs, cheese and a handful of almonds. We love having homemade stir fry in the wok once a week minus the rice. At first it was tough, flu like symptoms the first week but now we do not crave carbs. Broccoli taste so awesome ( sweet ). Later we will add fruit low in sugar like blueberries and other veg’s like sweet carrots and cabbage but for now we are loosing weight slowly and feeling awesome. I really enjoyed reading the article. Thanks for sharing all of the comments. Low carb is working for us.

  • CapJohn

    Plants store sugar as starch…..
    Some starches are the basis for all flour….
    Sugar and its derivatives starch and flour are the major sources of body fat of all carbohydrates….
    The only exception to this is when you approach a starvation diet….
    Until starch and flour products are included in the category sugar the results of any diet are likely to be unpredictable….
    This explains the success of paleo diets and no processed food diets for some people….

  • Donna Asbridge Osbron

    I’m also a health care provider who lives a low carb (<25/day for 2 1/2 years now) lifestyle and recommends it to patients on a regular basis. I have seen incredible weight, health and life transformations. I find this article shockingly inaccurate and incredibly outdated. No wonder soo many people are so confused!! I've been waiting on MyFitnessPal to finally recognize low carbers for a very long time but this is more disappointing than when it wasn't addressed at all:(

  • CapJohm

    All food is carbohydrate that is carbon hydrogen and oxygen…..
    Sugar is a carbohydrates that plants store as starch….
    Some starches provide all flour….
    Sugar and its derivatives starch and flour are the major source of body fat….
    Starch and flour are NOT included in any diet carbohydrate category….
    Until sugar starch and flour are included in one category it will be very hard to control body fat…..
    This might explain the rise of the unprocessed food diet and the paleo diet that have had some success by avoiding sugar starch and flour…….

  • Tim Walsh

    This blog is so full of misinformation it is almost laughable. The author really needs to read some of the new information out there, like Keto Clarity or The Art and Science of Low Carb Living. I have been on low carb in one form or the other since the 1980’s, lost a lot of weight, but always went back to carbs and regained all the weight. Finally, after getting diabetes, something finally clicked and I am now committed to low carb. Since October 1st, I have lost 62 pounds, dropped my daily insulin shots, cut my Lipitor in half, and cut Metformin from 1500 mg daily to 375. My A1c went from 8.5 to 5.8, fasting blood sugar from 170-200 to 100-105, cholesterol from 260 to 173. The sugar cravings are gone, I do not even miss it. Really disappointed in My Fitness Pal as well, I just recommended it to someone today, but now I will have to rethink that.

    • judy held

      How do you get past the cravings for pasta and pizza?
      I am tired of eating meats and eggs and cheese and salads.

      • Tim Walsh

        It wasn’t easy, but there are some alternatives. We found an excellent pizza recipe online that uses eggs, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese for the crust. For pasta, you can use spaghetti squash or zucchini. There are some spirit ski noodle out there that if prepared right are not bad. There are a couple of brands, but the ones we like best have a little tofu in them and that gives a better mouth feel. Later I will look for that pizza recipe.

        • judy held

          Perfect, thanks. Do you put red sauce on your pizzas?

        • Peggy Taylor

          I had even found a recipe online that used mozzarella cheese as a substitute for noodles!

  • Lisa

    I too live on a keto type diet and have for 20 plus years, as I tend to low blood sugar this life style has all made all the negative aspects of my low blood sugar disappear .
    And I am a fitness instructor who averages 15-18 workouts a week.
    I am always disappointed how the fitness industry and medical community seem be lagging behind in the most current studies , findings and lifestyles they present to the public.

  • Helen

    I’ve lost 60+ lbs in the past year on a low carb, high protein diet, usually around 60g of carbs per day on the “weight loss” phase. Then I increase the carbs a little, say 70-75g, for four weeks to stabilise my weight, then go back to a weight loss phase. It means I’m never heading towards starvation mode, my body knows it’s getting more carbs soon and makes it very easy to eat a variety of foods and negotiate eating out as well. My skin looks great, my digestion has improved, my energy is through the roof. Couldn’t be happier.

  • kay

    After reading these posts, I am more confused than ever. I am 60 years young, have Type II diabetes and desperately trying to control my blood sugar. I am 30 pounds overweight. I take medication for high cholesterol. I work full time and walk on a treadmill during lunch at a health club in my building. Also walk over a mile to work every day from the train. I am trying to cut carbs (very hard for me!) Shouldn’t I be cutting fats as well? Anybody out there got any advice?

    • tpkyteroo

      Reducing fats does not help you lose weight they found out. It can actually make you gain weight – especially if you eat those “fat reduced” foods.
      PCRN Doctors (including Dr. Neal Barnard) have proven that a healthy Vegan diet, that includes fortified sources of B12, actually reversed Type II diabetes. This means that you eat more vegetables and fiber. Substitute Quinoa (with the saponins removed) for White rice. Quinoa is good with cilantro and lime or in any Mexican dish. Snacks – eat more broccolli, carrots, celery. Nuts are considered good too, but I’d avoid eating them around people allergic to them. Zucchini-Courgettes are very good sliced thinly (use a mandarin) and used just like lasagna noodles.

      Almond Milk is high in nutrients and has a good source of B12 added. Soy milk also contains B12. B12 supplementation is also good, if needed. My B12 levels are fine, and I wasn’t taking B12 vitamins when tested. I was just getting my B12 from fortified cereals and fortified Vegan milks.

      Carb amounts: I’d stick to around 45 mark for carbs from pasta, rice, cereal and bread. But I’d drink more water, eat more fiber (it helps fill you up), Zucchinni-courgette and other vegetables. Tofu is good when extra firm, and fried in olive oil with Ginger.

      Also, do HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. In short, you do short bursts of exercise at top speed interspersed with moderate speed. In a 7 minute time frame, you would have up to 3 minutes of top speeds with around 4 minutes of moderate speed. You’ll also want to vary your walking speed between moderate and quick. Getting a elliptical machine is worth the money. Reducing the belly fat, is supposed to help fight Type II diabetes, or prevent it they think. (Heard this one on Dr. Oz I believe.)

      A note about Cholesterol – The have recently debunked the myth that cholesterol in foods raises our cholesterol. They think its mostly genetic thing. However, I have noticed, that certain medications and eggs have raised my cholesterol. My body doesn’t process eggs very well, so I went back to Vegan when I’m not eating out at a restaurant that can’t accommodate my many food allergies-intolerances. (I need more probiotics to reverse some of this perhaps. I am celiac, but wasn’t diagnosed soon enough – before I became a pastaerian. 😉 lol )
      Best Wishes! I’ve lost 18 pounds and have avoided Type II diabetes (which runs in my family.)

      • kay

        Thank you – very useful info!

    • Susan Holm

      Read “Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It” by Gary Taubes. Give a copy to your doctor. If he/she doesn’t get it, find a new doctor.

      • kay

        Thanks, Susan. Just ordered the book from Amazon.

  • LongTimeFed

    Helpful, but still too confusing for me.

  • Kathy

    I find this article to be reassuring to those of us who are just starting our journey toward reducing carbs ..i really must laugh at all the “experts” out there commenting…The article clearly states that what works for one may not work for another….If you have so much knowledge to share and the credentials to back up your knowledge base up…you really should help us by publishing articles….

  • Rose Immortal

    Funny how people blame the carbs as to why they’ve gained weight instead of blaming the junk food they were probably eating before. Eliminate junk food, and guess what happens? Weight loss. Its not the carbs people, unless you were lazy and not active, and eating bad carbs. I tried a low carb diet in my early 20’s and it was terrible. I was working out for two hours daily restricting my carbs, only to lose 40 lbs and gain all the weight back. Why? Because I restricted my carbs. Low carb is just not for me. Since February I cut junk food,fast food, and fried food from my diet, and work out 30 mins-an hour daily and have lost almost 30 lbs since February. I feel great! And guess what? I don’t sit there and eat til I’m so stuffed. I eat til I’m satisfied, I still eat carbs mainly from whole grains, and fruit. I am also vegan. Screw low carb diets, they do not work for me!

  • Tyler Mueller

    This was a very interesting article. I like eating simple carbohydrates, now I just need to learn how to balance my complex carbohydrates. I believe that an individual should at least have 50% of their daily diet in carbohydrates. Carbs are what gives us energy. I love going to the gym and watching guys take all these fancy pre-workouts, and protein shakes, and I don’t get why they are so brain washed. Carbohydrates are what you need in the weight room, because if you don’t have enough carbs in a muscle group you will run out of energy real quickly which will almost make he lift pointless. Protein on the other hand your body can only take in 15% of daily diet a day. Any extra protein you just pee out so pretty much you’re wasting your money. If you are living a healthy lifestyle it should be easy to get enough protein daily in order to be sufficient. Complex carbohydrates aren’t bad for you but I would try avoid eating too many of them and strictly focus on the simple carbs. If you are big into weight lifting and want to get the most out of your workout make sure you have enough carbohydrates in your diet because you will have a lot more energy!

  • apoteke

    When my son wants to raise his blood sugar because of his diabetes the quickest way to raise that blood sugar is to eat bread. 1 piece of bread containing 15gm of carbohydrate is faster than 15gm of table sugar at raising blood sugar. If I ate 45% of my calories from carbohydrate I’d balloon up the 100lbs I’ve lost.

  • MIHAI BOGDAN BOJAN

    Counting calories works just fine so i see no reason to cut the carbs(at least for a healthy person).Im getting 266 carbs each day from all kind of sources, 207 grams of proteins and 52 g of fats for a total caloric intake of 2360 kcal/day and in almost 4 years i’v maintained the same bodyweight (77-78 kilograms).Cut the carbs if you want to lose weight but not eliminate them drop your caloric intake and you will get some good results .

  • Patrick Murphy

    Fruit is a complex carbohydrate.

  • Frank

    Reducing carbs is important. There is no mention ok the other , better fuel source versus glucose…Ketones. interesting a wellness column says 45 to 60% is good.
    I do 7 to 10 % and 70%fat and 30% protein.

  • Rich

    Low carb diets introduced 20 years ago? Not quite. Google Banting. He died in 1878. He was first to popularize low carb. It was called ‘Banting’.

  • Great resource. Thanks for this informative post!

  • PhoenyxRose

    Just an aside that should have been added: not all fiber is created equal. Some fiber in plants (such as cellulose) connect in such a way that we CAN’T break them down since we lack the specific enzymes (and fermenting organs) that herbivores have, which is why fruits and veggies are so much lower in calories. This why when you eat things like corn and spaghetti squash, it just goes right through you. We can however, break down the fructose (hence the name) in them, and some other fibers.

  • Shawn Kibel

    This is not accurate. I am a keto-adapted endurance athlete. I don’t starve myself. I generally take in <20g carbs a day with a daily caloric intake of 2,700-5,000 calories at an approximate ratio of 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carbs. Your body NEVER uses all of either energy system and it largely depends on the type and intensity of the activity and how efficient a person is at using fat as a fuel source. Some of the top keto-adapted athletes have been able to demonstrate their body using 80-90% of their fuel from fat (ketones).

    Furthermore, the brain is perfectly capable of using ketones as a fuel source and it is actually a more efficient fuel source than glucose as it produces fewer byproducts and oxidative stress. I can say that I have directly observed the brain going through the switch in energy systems and it is not fun. I experienced headaches and general malais (the keto flu) when I first transitioned. The brain is being starved of glucose and the body is not producing sufficient ketones to fuel it. Once those ketones kick in though, it is an amazing thing.

    I for one am able to perform what I would have thought to be superhuman efforts just a few years ago. Even after being a well trained glucose burning athlete. For instance, it is nothing for me to run for up to 2 hours without fueling or taking in any water. I can go 3-4 hours with nothing more than water. Long after the time my body should have burned through every bit of glucose I have stored. I could probably go longer, but haven't tested non-fueling beyond the 4 hour mark. On longer efforts, 7-19 hours, I fuel with fats, amino acids, and water.

    The myth that the body is reliant on carbohydrates as an energy source is largely overstated. Now for short anaerobic types of exercise, glucose is king. However, the body stores enough for 1.5-2 hours of this type of activity so athletes that do need to operate on this energy system (i.e. sprinters, football players, etc.) don't generally have to worry about running out.

    • Adaora Obianuju Oku

      Is there a book I an buy and read up on ketogenic diet . that can help me understand it better pls.

      • Svenbot42

        Gary Taubes is excellent with the explanations and the scientific research. See his “Good Calories Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat”. Its actually a scary read since you get to witness how much dietary nonsense has been perpetrated on the American public because of the collusion between the US Government and the Sugar and Big Food lobbies. Just imagine, we are fed bogus nutrition information from the Department of AGRICULTURE, not the FDA or Health and Human services. Of course “they” want you to eat all the carbs “they” can produce. Even though the vast majority of the unbiased (not funded by the food industry) research shows that refined carbohydrates and sugar (not fat or protein) cause obesity, heart disease and cancer.

  • Shawn Kibel

    The author obviously has a limited scope of knowledge. One based on the old paradigm of a high carb diet being the best/only way to go. There is so much that is either wrong (or partially right) in here that it almost hurts to read it. Let’s start off with the opening statement, “Ever since the introduction of carb-cutting diets some 20 years ago, carbohydrates have been a source of nutritional controversy, particularly among those trying to lose weight. The science to support low-carb diets has been conflicting at best—but this isn’t surprising since we all know that nutrition needs are highly individual, particularly where weight loss is concerned.”

    Low carb and ketogenic diets are not fad diets developed in the last 20 years. They have been around for nearly 100 years and have quite a bit of research behind them. Research that is mounting quickly (i.e. The F.A.S.T.E.R. study). The opening statement’s inaccuracy sets up the inaccuracy of the remainder of the post.

  • Monica balestri

    Love it 😉

  • laura

    I feel so bad for everyone restricting their carbs. HCLF and never going back! 80% of my calories are carbs and it’s so amazing