Hey Angels and Alphas,
Even though we know carbohydrates are vital to our fitness progress and well-being, and that they’re the body’s main fuel of choice, there’s still a lot of confusion about how many carbs you should eat in a day.
When they’re broken down, carbs provide us with much-needed glucose, which travels through the bloodstream to support our cells, muscles, tissues, and organs. Everything we do from breathing to weightlifting is fueled by glucose…
…but how much carbohydrates do we need a day to lose weight?
Let’s start off with a good rule to follow – kinetic thinking.
Kinetic thinking implies that the more carbohydrates you eat, the more possible you are to feel energetic. This is not to say that eating too many carbs may make you feel sluggish come lunchtime. Actually, eating too few carbohydrates can help you feel lethargic and drowsy. Consuming the right amount of carbs is vital to the weight loss process.
That being said, how many carbs need to lose weight varies from person to person and from diet to diet. The first element in deciding on how many carbs you need to eat every day to lose weight is to understand your metabolism and its role in your weight loss efforts.
Metabolism is a biochemical process that involves the reactions of specific molecules in the body.
To be more technical, your metabolism is the process by which the body produces and uses energy. In terms of weight loss, metabolism is the process by which your body converts food into energy, as opposed to fat production, which is the process by which your body converts food into fat.
Two main factors affect your metabolism and both will contribute to what you can eat and still be able to lose weight.
The first factor is your thyroid, which is responsible for your metabolism and plays a role in the functionality of almost all the body’s processes.
The second factor is insulin, which is the hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin levels play a crucial role in the body and rise and fall throughout the day.
While we touched on the importance of hormones, here is an important hormone that should get a close look – PYY, or the physical reward hormone, is released by the hypothalamus, and helps the brain know when you have eaten enough food. It is the signals that PYY displays to the brain that helps us to know when we have eaten sufficiently.
As was pointed out in the last section, energy comes from glucose, the simplest form of carbohydrate. Let’s try and visualize the way the human body uses different forms of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are broken down to produce the energy our bodies need to function. Our bodies burn carbohydrates in much the same way that engines utilizes gas. Carbohydrates are turned into glucose, a sugar modification that is transported from the intestinal tract into the blood. When blood contains glucose, the pancreas begins to produce insulin. Insulin levels are affected by the number of carbohydrates in your diet (as well as the types of carbs.)
Carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables break down slowly and do not cause the same rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin production that processed carbs cause.
So how many carbohydrates do you need to eat a day for weight loss?
Let’s say your target calorie intake for the day is about 1,600 calories. If you want to eat around 50% of calories from carbohydrates, this means you’ll have to aim for around 200g of carbs a day.
The better their quality, the better the result, obviously, and the more complex they are, the less chance there is that they’ll instantly turn into part of your fat stores.
The other element that needs consideration before you find out how many carbs you should be eating is your current physical activity level, and your carb intake should look something similar to:
- Very light training program / active lifestyle – 3-5 grams of carbohydrates / kilogram of bodyweight
- Moderate-intensity training program – 5-7 grams of carbohydrates / kilogram of bodyweight
- 1-2 hours of high-intensity exercise a day – 6-8 grams of carbohydrates / kilogram of bodyweight
- 3-4 hours of high-intensity exercise a day – 8-10 grams of carbohydrates / kilogram of bodyweight
Remember, carbs are converted to glucose, a form of sugar that enters into our blood. Normally, our bodies burn the sugar from carbohydrates before the fat and protein forms of carbohydrates. Therefore, if you want a pizza slice, go ahead and enjoy it, but try not to overindulge as eating too many may result in your blood sugar levels spiking too high, resulting in insulin production, and more fat storage in the body.
And as you can see, if you keep a close eye on how many carbohydrates you are eating during the day as well as limiting the fat and protein forms of carbohydrates, you will be well on your way to achieving your weight loss goals.