A carbohydrate is one of the main food components that make up a balanced diet. But, in most cases, they have a bad reputation especially when it comes to weight. It has always been linked to weight gain.
However, carbohydrates are not bad. As a matter of fact, we cannot live without them. Our bodies need them to function properly.
Carbohydrates are broken down during digestion into blood sugar that is then used as energy by the body.
Just like any other kind of food, carbohydrates are essential to the body. However, it is important to note that there are good carbohydrates and bad ones.
Good carbohydrates are found naturally in foods like grains and starch. They are filled with nutrition and are the most recommended.
On the other hand, we mostly consume unhealthy carbohydrates in processed and refined foods. These are full of empty carbohydrates added in the form of sugar. They don’t have any nutritional value.
Even though we know that carbohydrates are an important part of our diets, we tend to leave them out of our meals either intentionally or unknowingly, which may lead to health problems.
But before we jump into how many carbohydrates you should consume in a day, let’s find out factors that determine how much our bodies need.
Factors that Determine How many Carbohydrates You Take
There are many health benefits of carbohydrates. The main one is providing your body with the energy it needs to function properly.
Carbohydrates are the main source of calories. Half of the number of calories you take in a day comes from carbohydrates.
However, your sources of carbohydrates highly determine its value. There are three main types of carbohydrates;
This could be naturally found in foods like fruits, vegetables, and milk products. Added sugars could also be sources of carbohydrates. They include syrup, honey, and sugary snacks like candy, cookies, pastries, and sweetened drinks.
Sugars are categorized into fructose, which comes from fruits, Sucrose; these are added sugars like table sugar and lactose which is milk sugar.
Starch are complex carbohydrates and are naturally found in foods e.g. legumes, these could be cooked dry beans and peas.
Fiber is also a complex carbohydrate. They can be found naturally in natural foods like veggies, whole grain, and cooked beans and peas.
What are Simple and Complex Carbohydrates?
Complex carbohydrates consist of sugar molecules joined together in long chains. Some of them are barley, potatoes, corn, and whole-grain meals like bread, pasta, and whole wheat flour.
On the other hand, simple carbohydrates are those that the body is able to break down quickly to be used as energy. Some of the natural simple carbohydrates include milk, fruits, and vegetables.
They can also be found in processed sugars like table sugar and soft drinks.
Carbohydrates and Calories
Now that we know that half the number of calories we consume daily comes from carbohydrates, how much should you really consume?
You could easily measure the number of carbohydrates by how many calories you need a day. Here are the factors that you should take into consideration;
Older adults don’t need to consume many calories as they are less active and have a slow metabolism, hence need few carbohydrates.
While younger adults are more active and have high metabolism as their bodies are still growing and developing. Their calorie intake may be more.
There are three kinds of people; those who are not active or they use minimal, basic energy. This means they only move around the house or get mails from the mailbox outside.
They wouldn’t need as many calories as their bodies aren’t using as much energy.
In most cases, weight is a major factor that determines the number of calories you eat. You need to balance calories to maintain weight.
Whereas, you need to consume more calories than your body burns a day if you are looking to add weight and consume less to shed weight.
Another factor is gender. According to health specialists, men generally need 2500-2800 calories a day while women should consume 1800-2000.
How to Calculate Carbohydrates
The measure of the number of calories you consume could be determined by the number of calories you are targeting each day. But first, you should know that;
1 gram (g) of fat equals 9 kilocalories (kcal), 1 gram (g) of carbohydrates equals 4 kilocalories (kcal), and 1 gram (g) of protein equals 4 kilocalories (kcal).
Here are the steps to calculating how many carbohydrates you should eat;
Step one; determine how many calories you need to consume in a day.
Step two; calculate how many carbohydrates you need for step one. Do this by dividing the number you get in step one into 4. That is the number of carbohydrates you need in a day.
You can use any unit to measure your foods. You can measure by grams, or convert grams to pounds. The choice is really yours. Get your accurate measures and conversions at getcalculators.com for free.