According to current dietary guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 45–65% of your daily calories should come fromcarbohydrates. However, if you have diabetes, you may want to consume <50% of your calories from carbohydrates and be more careful about your total intake and even intake at meals in order to prevent high blood sugar levels or the more dangerous low blood sugars.
If you're a cardio athlete who exercises 3-4 hours per day, then you need to consume more carbohydrates. The percentage of calories from carbohydrates to meet your athletic needs may be closer to 70% or more. Some sources of carbohydrates are better for you than others, and the number of carbs a person needs depends greatly on factors like age, weight, height, and activity level.
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found in foods that provide your body with energy. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat provide your dietary calories.
Carbs are mostly found in plants where they provide energy and structure. Sugars, starches, and fibers fall into this category. And although animals need and consume carbohydrates, you won't find any carbs in meat, fish, or poultry. But you will find carbs in milk anddairy productsbecause they contain lactose, which is also a type of sugar.
Understanding Complex Carbohydrates
Calculating Your Goal
Your carbohydrate need can be based on your caloric intake. If you know how many calories you need each day, you can figure out how many grams of carbs you need:
- Start by determining your daily calorie need and divide that number in half. That's how many calories should come from carbohydrates.
- Each gram of carbohydrate has four calories. Divide the number you got from the first step by four.
- The final number is equal to the number of carbohydrates in grams you need each day.
For example, a person who eats approximately 2,000 calories per day should take in about 250 grams of carbohydrates (2,000 divided by 2 = 1,000 and 1,000 divided by 4 = 250).
What 2,000-Calorie Diet Means on a Nutrition Label
Determining Your Intake
Eliminating an entire macronutrient such as carbohydrates can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Carbohydrates are rich in B vitamins, iron, and fiber, to name a few. It can also result in excess intake of other less healthy nutrients such as saturated fat found in fatty meats.
You may also be getting too few carbs relative to your activity levels, leaving you depleted of energy and not able to keep up with your fitness goals. Follow these simple steps to track your intake:
Read Food Labels
You can find the carbohydrate grams on the Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods. You'll find calorie information there, but be sure to double-check the serving size and number of servings per package.
Calculate the Number of Grams of Carbs
Use "FoodData Central," the USDA's National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, to calculate carbohydrate amounts for fresh foods. It's a large database that's regularly updated.
Keep a Food Diary
Keep a food diary to track your information. You can use a journal or a free online food tracker and calorie counter. Also consider keeping track of your mood, sleep patterns, and activity levels. Down the road, you may be able to make some associations between food choices and their effect on your daily mood and activity levels.
The Healthiest Carbs
Carbohydrates includecomplex carbohydrates, like starches, andsimple sugarssuchas white sugar,high fructose corn syrup, and honey.
Healthy complex carbohydrates include foods such as starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Compared to refined grains like white bread and pasta, which are simple carbohydrates, whole grains are far more nutrient-dense. However, simple carbs like fruit and dairy are nutritious and are considered part of a healthy, balanced diet.
The standard tip is to "make half of your grains whole." The USDA recommends that half of your grain intake should come from whole grains. Examples of whole grains include 100% whole grain bread, whole grain oats, quinoa, farro, brown rice, and popcorn. If you are eating six servings of grains a day, aim to make at least half of those servings whole grain foods.
Refined grains such as white rice, pasta, and bagels contain less fiber than whole grains and should be consumed less often. You'll also want to include fruits and vegetables in your carbohydrate intake. The only time you may be eating more refined grains during your fitness journey is before and after heavy workouts. Before workouts to prevent indigestion and after workouts because your stomach may be too sensitive to a high fiber intake.
As far as plant-based options go, choose 100% whole grains and fruits and vegetables for most of your carbohydrates. As long as you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, you'll add a substantial amount of fiber to your diet.
Of course, you need protein and fat as well, just not as much. Balance your carbohydrate choices with protein sources, suchas lean red meat, poultry, eggs, or fish, and somehealthy fatssuch asolive oil, avocado, ornuts and seeds. Besides the nutrition benefits these can bring, protein combined with high-fiber carbs helps promote satiety to keep you feeling full between meals.
Watch Out for Sugars
Aim to eat sugary foods less often. Foods made with added sugars like table sugar, honey, corn syrup or maple syrup often lack vitamins, minerals, and filling fiber. They can leave you feeling lethargic and hungry for more sugar a short time after eating. There are also hidden sugars in sauces and even sometimes soups.
Excess calorie intake from sugary foods has been associated with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.For this reason, the USDA recommends that Americans consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars. Other expert groups recommend a lower limit; for instance, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests no more than 6% of daily calories.
Limit sugary snacks, pastries, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, candy, and cookies. Be mindful of heavily processed foods such as packaged snacks and boxed meals that often contain added sugars. You can find added sugars by reading the ingredient list. Look for words that end in "ose" or you can also check for "added sugar" on the nutrition facts label.
The 7 Best Sugar Alternatives of 2023, According to a Dietitian
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture.2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition. December 2020.
Esposito K, Giugliano D. Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes.Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2014;30(S1):34-40. doi:10.1002/dmrr.2516
Kerksick, C.M., Arent, S., Schoenfeld, B.J.et al.International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing.J Int Soc Sports Nutr14,33 (2017). doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4
Koliaki C, Spinos T, Spinou Μ, Brinia Μ-E, Mitsopoulou D, Katsilambros N. Defining the optimal dietary approach for safe, effective and sustainable weight loss in overweight and obese adults.Healthcare. 2018;6(3):73. doi:10.3390/healthcare6030073
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By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.
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How many carbohydrates do you need? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45% to 65% of total daily calories. So if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates. That translates to between 225 and 325 grams of carbs a day.How many carbs should I eat a day to lose weight? ›
As far as how many carbohydrates to eat, Pratt says 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates is safe for most people who are trying to lose weight. It may be better for some people to eat carbs consistently throughout the day. “You can also break it up evenly with 40 to 50 grams of carbs per meal,” she says.Is 100 carbs a day low-carb? ›
While there is no strict definition of a low carb diet, anything under 100–150 grams per day is generally considered low carb. This is definitely a lot less than the amount of carbs in the standard Western diet.Is 500 carbs A day bad for you? ›
In general, how many grams of carbs per day you should consume is probably going to be in between 500 and 800 calories from carbohydrates, and that's typically about 150 to 200 grams of carbohydrates per day — 200 is an upper amount and goes as low as 120, which may be ideal for many trying to trim down.What happens if you don't eat enough carbohydrates? ›
Severe carb limits can cause your body to break down fat into ketones for energy. This is called ketosis. Ketosis can cause side effects such as bad breath, headache, fatigue and weakness. It's not clear what kind of possible long-term health risks a low-carb diet may pose.Will I still lose weight with 50 carbs a day? ›
Can you lose weight on 50 g of carbs a day? You may lose weight faster on 50 g of carbs a day or less, but it depends on what else you're eating, how many calories you're consuming, how active you are, and many other factors. In addition, eating slightly more carbs may lead to lower but more sustainable weight loss.What carbs should I eat to lose belly fat? ›
- Brown rice. Brown rice is a whole grain, and more nutritious than white rice as it contains more fiber, B vitamins, and minerals such as manganese, selenium, and magnesium. ...
- Konjac noodles. ...
- Oats. ...
- Quinoa. ...
If you occasionally want to “carb up,” or if you can maintain ketosis at a higher level of carbs, eating 50 grams of carbs means you're still staying relatively low carb. Here's 50 grams of refined or higher carb foods: three slices of bread, three potatoes, a cup of rice and a cup of pasta.What happens if I don't eat carbs for 3 days? ›
Severely limiting or cutting out carbs completely will, after a few days, put the body into a state of ketosis. In ketosis, small fragments of carbon called ketones are released into the blood because the body is burning fat instead of carbohydrates.How much weight can you lose in 2 weeks without carbs? ›
People who begin a low-carb diet with less fat to lose generally lose weight more slowly than those who started out with more. After the first couple of weeks on a low-carb diet, people may lose between 1/2 pound and 2 pounds a week, which is considered a more sustainable rate of weight loss.
If you can eat 500 fewer calories every day, you should lose about a pound (450 g) a week. Always talk with your health care provider to determine a healthy weight for you before starting a weight-loss diet.What does 60 grams of carbs a day look like? ›
To limit yourself to 60 grams of carbs a day, consume about 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates at each of your three meals and between zero and 15 grams of carbs in snacks. Most standard breakfast meals, such as breakfast cereals, toasts and muffins, provide at least 60 grams of carbs.How many carbs should a 200 pound man eat a day? ›
For most active adults, who typically weigh between 100-200 lbs, a good amount of daily carbs is: 100-200 grams per day. A big difference between carbs and protein is that carb intake is, to a large extent, based on energy expenditure (i.e., how much you work out).How do I know I'm eating enough carbs? ›
- You're Always Tired. ...
- The Bloating Is Real. ...
- It's Becoming Difficult to Concentrate at Work. ...
- The Scale Is Starting to Creep Up. ...
- You Don't Feel Satisfied for Long After a Meal. ...
- You're Experiencing Some Pretty Irregular Digestion.
The healthiest sources of carbohydrates—unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients.Is it possible to eat too little carbs? ›
If you eat too few carbs, you may experience some unpleasant side effects. According to Mayo Clinic, these may include dizziness, headaches, weakness, fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, nausea, diarrhea, mental fatigue and even bad breath.How to lose 20 pounds in a month? ›
- Count calories. ...
- Drink more water. ...
- Increase your protein intake. ...
- Reduce your refined carb consumption. ...
- Start lifting weights. ...
- Eat more fiber. ...
- Follow a sleep schedule. ...
- Set reasonable goals and stay accountable.
- Try curbing carbs instead of fats. ...
- Think eating plan, not diet. ...
- Keep moving. ...
- Lift weights. ...
- Become a label reader. ...
- Move away from processed foods. ...
- Focus on the way your clothes fit more than reading a scale. ...
- Hang out with health-focused friends.
Nutrient recommendations, including for carbohydrates, will be different for everyone. But about 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day are generally recommended on a low-carb diet, which can support weight loss, as long as you're still maintaining a calorie deficit.How to speed up metabolism? ›
- Exercise more. Add interval training to your cardio routine and burn more calories in less time. ...
- Weight train. Add muscle mass to your body and you can burn more calories at rest. ...
- Don't skip meals, especially breakfast. ...
- Eat fat-burning foods. ...
- Get a good night's sleep every night.
- Maple water. ...
- Popcorn. ...
- Quinoa. ...
- Roasted chickpeas. ...
- Whole-grain rye crispbread. ...
- Sweet potatoes. ...
- Whole-grain breakfast cereal. ...
- Two per cent plain Greek yogurt.
When a person is in nutritional ketosis, they will have blood ketone levels of 0.5–3 millimoles per liter . Alternatively, people can use a breath analyzer to test for ketones in their breath, or they may use indicator strips to check their urinary levels. Ketone testing kits are available to purchase online.What does 20 grams of carbs a day look like? ›
20 grams of carbs in high-carb foods
Just one large potato contains 20 grams of net carbs, the daily limit on a keto low-carb diet. As does one half of a large hamburger bun. Or half a cup of rice or pasta.
Cloud bread, or oopsie bread, is very popular with low-carb and keto dieters. Cloud bread is a protein-rich alternative to regular bread and makes an excellent sandwich base or English muffin replacement.What snack foods have no carbs? ›
- Sardines And Seed Crackers. First on the snacks with no carbs list is Sardines. ...
- Caprese Salad. ...
- Dried Seaweed Sheets. ...
- Salmon With Cucumber Bites. ...
- Apricots With Blue Cheese. ...
- String Cheese. ...
- Avocado Egg Salad. ...
- Yoghurt With Nuts.
Food and drinks allowed on a no-carb diet include meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, oils, water, and plain coffee or tea. If you're less stringent, you can also eat nuts, seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and high-fat fruits like avocado and coconut since these foods are low in net carbs.Why do I feel so much better on a low carb diet? ›
Your metabolism helps your body create energy, but when you switch to a low carb diet, your metabolism will actually start using fat for energy instead of carbs and sugar. Plus, the foods you eat on a low carb diet will naturally regulate your blood sugar, giving you a steady supply of energy all day long.Will I lose belly fat if I stop eating carbs? ›
Studies suggest that cutting carbs may be particularly effective at getting rid of the fat in the belly area. If you want to try a very low carb diet, talk with your doctor first.Can you lose 10 pounds in a week on low carb? ›
Anecdotally, people report losses within the first week of anywhere from 1 pound (0.5 kg) to 10 or more pounds (5 kg). The larger you are, the more water weight you're likely to lose after starting keto.Can I have one cheat day a week on low-carb diet? ›
If you want to limit the number of carbs you eat on your cheat day, you can schedule those days more often. Once a week will work just fine for those who plan to stay under the 50 grams of carbs limit in order to remain in ketosis while still eating some additional treats that day.
Short-term risks of eating 1,000 calories a day may include dizziness, hunger, gallstones, nausea, fatigue, headaches, and nutrient deficiencies. It can lead to nutrient deficiencies, slow metabolism, and make bones weaker if you exercise along with a low-calorie diet.How long will it take to lose 20 pounds eating 1 500 calories a day? ›
This means, a 1,500-calorie diet would help her lose 20 pounds in 2 months, or at least come close, since she'd have a daily deficit of 1,200 calories with moderate exercise. Keep in mind that weight loss is typically more rapid in people who have more weight to lose.How to lose a pound a day for 30 days? ›
- Increase fiber intake.
- Don't drink your liquids.
- Switch to zero-calorie substitutes.
- Make swaps to your food.
- Add volume to meals.
- Eat home cooked food.
- Watch your portion sizes.
- Regularly exercise.
Potatoes Boiled Without Skin With Salt (1 large (3" to 4-1/4" dia.)) contains 60g total carbs, 54g net carbs, 0.3g fat, 5.1g protein, and 258 calories.How many slices of keto bread can I eat per day? ›
You can, maybe a slice or two here and there, but you ideally don't want to be eating too much of it. This is because a keto diet involves eating minimal carbs; less than 50g a day. However, a slice of bread contains around 20g of carbs, which is quite a chunk of your daily carbohydrate allocation.How many calories do you burn without exercise a day? ›
On average, a person will burn at least 1800 calories a day without exercise. To lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. Caffeine supplements can help you achieve this state by boosting your BMR to promote fat burning.How much protein a day to lose weight? ›
If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (.73 and 1 grams per pound). Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram (1-1.5 grams per pound) if aiming for weight loss.How many carbs should I eat to lose fat and gain muscle? ›
In general, aiming for a balance of about 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% fat can help support building muscle and losing fat (2).Can I eat 150 carbs a day and lose weight? ›
You'll lose excess weight faster and feel healthier if you limit your carbs to somewhere between 50 and 150 grams per day (exact numbers vary according to your total caloric intake).Can you lose weight on 100 carbs a day? ›
Yes, it is possible to lose weight while eating 100 carbs a day. Eating fewer carbs is an effective way to reduce your daily caloric intake and facilitate weight loss. The key to success is to make sure you're eating the right types of foods.
How many carbs should I eat to lose weight? For someone weighing 150 pounds, White recommends 150-200 grams of carbs a day and 200-250 for men. The rest of us will have to do a little math to gauge our perfect carb levels.Can you lose weight on 40 grams of carbs a day? ›
Generally, having anywhere from 30 to 50 net carbs daily is a good start for weight loss. The type of carbs you consume is also an important factor. Refined carbs, such as white flour, sugar and added sugar can be more difficult for the body to process, and can lead to sugar cravings and weight gain.What carbs should I avoid to lose belly fat? ›
Cut the carbs—When you cut out refined carbs like white bread, rice, bagels, pasta, cookies, candy and chips and focus on nutrient- and fiber-rich carbs such as vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits, you start to lose belly fat, because, once again, your body is burning fat for fuel.What is better to count calories or carbs? ›
Eating processed carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, potato products, and sugar can drive up insulin levels in the body and lead to weight gain.How much weight will I lose if I stop eating for 1 day? ›
“On a day you don't eat for 24 hours, you're guaranteed to be losing a third or half a pound of non-water weight that's mostly from body fat,” Pilon told Global News.How long does it take to lose 40 pounds on a low-carb diet? ›
So, at a steady rate of losing 1-2 pounds each week, you can expect to lose 40 pounds in 5-6 months.How many carbs should I stay under to lose weight fast? ›
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.How many calories should I eat a day to lose weight? ›
For example, to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week — a rate that experts consider safe — your food consumption should provide 500 to 1,000 calories less than your total weight-maintenance calories. If you need 2,325 calories a day to maintain your current weight, reduce your daily calories to between 1,325 and 1,825.