By Martin Ebner
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are energy! They are the sugars, starches and fibres found in fruit, grains, vegetables and milk products. They are one of three micronutrients (Carbs, Protein and fat) and are essential for proper body function. Your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose aka energy which is what allows us to move, think and function. Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.
Carbohydrates are often blacklisted in new and "trendy" diets but while reducing carbs and in some cases, cutting them out entirely can be effective in the short term for weight-loss, long term it's not sustainable. Carbohydrates are one of the basic and most important food groups and without them, it would be impossible to live a long and healthy life.
How many grams per day should you eat?
This is a very tricky question and the answer is very much dependent on the individual. No body is the same and every person requires a slightly different carbohydrate intake based on their fitness goals. Other factors to consider are: age, gender, body composition, activity levels, personal preference, food culture and current metabolic health etc.
The average male requires around 2500 calories per day to maintain a healthy body weight. The average female requires 1/5 less, around 2000 calories.
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories.
Carbs for weight loss
Aim for between 1 and 2g of carbohydrates per kilo of body weight. For a 75kg male, this figure would be between 75 – 150g daily (300 – 600 calories). The remainder of you daily calorie intake should come in the form of protein and healthy fats.
Carbs for weight gain
The above figure should be double or even triple. Between 3 and 5g grams per day (900 – 1500 calories)
Carbs to maintain a health body weight
Aim for a figure in the middle, between 2 and 3g per day (600 – 900 calories).
Related article: The pros and cons of Carb cycling