How many carbohydrates do you need everyday? Do you know how many carbs you should eat daily, or do you just know that they should be low?
Most keto calculators will include a carbs calculator along with one for proteins and fats. These calculators will give you the total amounts of all three macros you should be eating. These will be your daily maximum for the keto diet.
For the keto diet to guarantee that you’ll enter ketosis ( the whole point of the keto diet) it will be recommended that you eat no more than 20g net each day.
However, this is a maximum amount required by the Keto Diet. Go over this and you won’t achieve ketosis.
It’s entirely possible to gain a lot of health benefits from going low carb, but not as low as the keto diet. This is something that you need to experiment with for yourself.
Try both diets and see which one makes you feel best, helps with weight loss and is satiating and easy for you to follow.
Unless you have one of the conditions that can be helped with the keto diet, you may decide that simply reducing your carbs down to 50g -100g each day will be low enough for you.
So, how many carbs in a day should you have? Is there a minimum amount required for healthy functioning?
There is no minimum amount of carbs that you should be consuming each day.
Despite what the many people will tell you, you do not require carbohydrates and here’s why:
When your body needs carbohydrates for some functions, especially neurological ones that can only use glucose from carbohydrate, it will make those carbs from protein or fat.
Your body is able to use the amino acids from both protein and fat and produce the needed glucose.
Your brain will continue to function, and your blood/glucose levels will stay within the normal range.
There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.
Carbs can be a tasty addition to your diet. They can help add some healthy micro nutrients and fiber.
They can make your diet more interesting but
They’re not essential.
Does this mean that you should aim for zero carbs per day?
Although it’s true that you can aim for zero carbs per day, it’s not really necessary to choose to do this, and it would actually be very difficult to achieve.
This is due to the fact that carbs are in so many foods, and many of these foods offer healthy nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber.
These foods would not only be a healthy addition to your daily diet, they would also add needed variety.
There are many cases of people surviving long term on almost nothing else but meat.
If this is your thing, there is plenty of evidence that you can go ahead.
Fans of the carnivore diet will tell you that they feel great, and have no health issues, even when being on this diet for several years.
However, in my opinion, carbs add variety and interest.
If you pick the complex healthy carbs, they will add some valuable micro nutrients to your diet too.
Salmon is a fantastic lunch, but it’s made all the tastier when it’s served with some cauliflower rice and avocado.
You could live without the carbs, but why bother?
If you make sure that all your carb choices are nutritionally dense, and you avoid junk food and ready meals you will still be eating healthy low carb.
Take some extra care and drop your carb intake to below 20g net each day. You will be super charging your weight loss and enjoying a lot of health benefits of ketosis at the same time.
If you’re following a very low carb or keto diet you will know that certain carb heavy foods are off the menu.
- Sugar, in all its forms
- Starchy vegetables such as Potato and carrots
- Most fruits except berries
However, this still leaves plenty of carbs that you can choose from for their healthy vitamin, mineral and fiber content.
These foods include:
- Above ground vegetables, especially cauliflower and broccoli
- Berries such as strawberries, blackberries.
- Cream and cheese
The Standard diet
Your daily intake of carbs is probably very high if you’re eating the standard American diet. This typical diet is about 2200 calories each day, of which 50% will be carbohydrates.
Unfortunately the nutritional value of these carbohydrates is often very poor, and will consist in large part of simple carbohydrates such as sugar, fruit juice, ready meals and breakfast cereals.
These are the sort of carbohydrates that you should be avoiding.
They offer little or nothing of nutritional value to your diet but cause many diseases as well as making you gain weight.
For more information about carbohydrates read
What happens if you eat too many carbs each day?
When you consume too many carbs you force your body to produce a spike in Insulin to keep your blood/glucose levels within the narrow healthy range.
Within a few hours you will feel tired and lethargic. That post lunch crash is caused by too many carbs.
When your blood/glucose levels go up and down several times a day, you will feel moody and irritable.
A very carb heavy meal or snack will light up the same areas of your brain as are activated when a drug addict takes their favourite drug.
The chemical dopamine is the brains feel good chemical, and it is the cause of your sugar cravings.
Worse, within a few hours of eating, your blood/glucose levels will nosedive, and you’ll find yourself hungry again.
This can set up an unhealthy and damaging cycle of carb eating/hunger/more carb eating.
You will be regularly spiking your Insulin levels in response to your carb heavy meals.
One of the tasks of Insulin is to inform the body that there is plenty of food around, and it’s OK to start storing the excess in the form of fat.
Insulin also interferes in the process of burning fat.
Both of these physical reactions to the presence of Insulin will cause you to gain weight.
Are carbohydrates bad for your health?
There is overwhelming evidence that a diet that consists of high levels of carbohydrates is bad for your health.
Sugar is the worst offender, and is a major cause of inflammation in your body.
Chronic inflammation has been associated with many if not all disease, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Too many carbs can also trigger metabolic syndrome and the development of type 2 diabetes.
A diet high in carbs is associated with lower levels of the good cholesterol HDL and elevated levels of the bad cholesterol LDL.
It will also increase your levels of triglycerides and put you at increased risk of heart disease.
If you’re experiencing these signs, you are probably consuming too many carbs:
- You feel tired and want to sleep after your meal
- Your focus and attention takes a nose dive after eating
- You crave sugar and sweet items regularly
- You crave starchy food such as bread and cake
- Your energy levels are not stable throughout the day
- You get irritable or angry when you’re hungry
- You seem to gain weight easily
If you have a few of these signs, you should consider reducing your carb intake. At the very least you should completely eliminate simple carbs such as sugar and ready meals.
Any carbs you do eat should be complex carbs with a good nutritional profile.
If we deprived our bodies of carbohydrates, we are more than able to process amino acids from both protein and fats and produce carbohydrates.
This ensures that certain functions which depend on carbohydrates are still able to function well.
Due to this, carbs cannot be said to be essential.
However, it has been proved that a diet high in carbohydrates has many negative effects on health. The fact that most people eat too many carbs has been linked to the huge rise in diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cancer.
There is also evidence that a carb heavy diet could be implicated in the development of Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease.
Sugar is particularly bad, and this non nutrient is the major cause of chronic inflammation.
This type of inflammation is the biggest single predictor of developing many different diseases.
One of the healthiest things you can do for your health and weight, both now and in the future, is limit your carb intake.
For some people this will mean eating low carb, somewhere between 50-150g of carbs each day.
This is a very individual thing. Watch your body for signs that you’re eating too many carbs.
Adjust down until you find that you are more alert, less hungry between meals and your weight has stabilized or is reducing.
For maximum health benefits, the keto diet is one of the best.
This low carb, high fat diet will reduce inflammation, reverse type 2 diabetes, stabilize moods and reduce your risk of many major diseases.
If you do choose a low carb or keto diet, make sure that the few carbs you eat are complex, nutritionally dense carbs.
Avoid simple carbs, and cut out the sugar completely.
You don’t need carbohydrates every day. Eat a few if you enjoy them and they are whole foods that will contribute to your micro nutrient needs.
There is no lower limit to be concerned about, but you should avoid eating so many carbs that your weight, health and general feeling of being well is compromised.