The carbohydrate calculator helps estimate the percentage of carbohydrates a person should consume each day. Carbohydrates, like sugars, fibers, and starches, are macronutrients found in many common foods. And knowing your carbs limit can help you plan your diet and meet your ideal weight goals. Scroll down to check out the tool and know more about carbohydrates.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the three primary macronutrients, our body needs to get energy. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy. Our body breaks them down or converts them into glucose for energy. Our body can also store carbs as energy in the form of glycogen, or converted them to fats (which are used as a source of energy). Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients found in food and drinks.
Carbohydrates have several health benefits and are an important part of our diets. They provide energy, shield the body from diseases, and help with weight management. Our body derives energy mainly from carbohydrates. Sugar and starches are broken down and converted into simple sugars during the digestion process and absorbed in the bloodstream. Some of this is used as fuel to help our body perform day-to-day activities and the excess is converted to fat. Natural fiber from whole grain, pulses, fruits, and vegetables helps to keep your immune system working well and also protect you against many diseases like diabetes, digestive disorders, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.
Types Of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are found in many common foods. Plant-based foods such as whole grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa), legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), and starchy vegetables (corn and sweet potatoes) are rich in carbohydrates. Most packaged, frozen, and processed foods have carbohydrates in the form of sugar or starch.
There are two major types of carbohydrates in foods:
1. Simple Carbohydrates:
Sugars are the simplest form of carbohydrates and can be found naturally in fresh fruit juices, dairy, and white grain. They can also be found in processed foods (added sugars) like candies, cookies, cakes, and sugary beverages.
2. Complex Carbohydrates:
Starches and fibers are considered complex carbohydrates. Most fruits and vegetables (with the exception of juices) are considered complex carbohydrates due to their fiber content. Complex carbohydrates take a little longer to break down, which makes them a more lasting source of energy. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains give you energy over a longer period of time and keep you feel satiated. They are also essential for your digestive system to work well.
Refined grains, like white flour and white rice, are also considered complex carbohydrates. However, since they are processed and do not contain the bran, they have low levels of nutrients and fiber compared to whole grain foods.
Starchy foods are also a good source of carbohydrates, energy, and nutrients. The following foods contain starches:
- Grains like rice, oats, and barley.
- Vegetables like potatoes (white and sweet varieties), turnips, beetroot, corn, and peas.
- Legumes like dried beans, lima beans, split peas
- Cereals, bread, pasta, and crackers
How Do You Calculate Carbs?
There are two methods to calculate the total carbohydrates in the food: you can use a carbohydrate calculator to count your calorie or refer to the Glycemic Index (GI) scale.
The GI scale classifies and ranks carbohydrate-containing foods as per their potential to raise blood sugar levels in the body. Foods with a higher GI value break down quickly in your body and shoots up the blood glucose levels. While foods with a low GI value take time to digest and slowly changes blood glucose levels. Whole grains, pulses, legumes, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and seeds have a low glycemic index. Rice, wheat flour, and other refined grains, potatoes, and corn have a high glycemic index. They are also not recommended for a weight loss diet and should be consumed in moderate amounts. You can consume these high-glycemic foods in combination with low-glycemic food and fiber.
Carb Serving: How Many Grams Is Considered One Carb Serving?
One serving of carbohydrates is measured as 15 grams. Any food that contains 15 grams of carbohydrates is called “one carb serving”.
For example, one slice of bread or a small piece of fruit has around 15 grams of carbs. Each of these equals one carb serving.
How Many Carbs Should You Eat Per Day to Lose Weight?
It depends on several factors and your calorie needs. According to the US FDA, a person on a 2000-calorie diet should consume 275 grams of carbs per day. Now, this daily value of carbs can be higher or lower than this depending on your calorie needs (1). Carbohydrates make up 45- 60% of the total daily calories. Besides, both quality and amount of carbohydrates should be considered. People who want to lose weight may want to aim for the lower end of that range. Everyone needs carbohydrates to meet their body’s requirement for energy and other nutrients. Carbohydrates provide about 4 calories per gram. So if you want to lose weight then cut down your carbs portion and include more nutritious foods. You can calculate your calorie intake from carbs by multiplying it by 4.
For instance, if you want to consume 1,800 calories per day and get 45% of your calories from carbohydrates, consume about 200 grams of carbohydrates daily.
What Are Good Carbs And Bad Carbs?
Not all carbohydrates are equal. Certain sources of carbohydrates are high in nutrients and fiber like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber is necessary for digestion and regular bowel movements and is important for heart health. But white bread, white rice, and other processed carbohydrates contain fewer nutrients. Here is an overview of good and bad carbs to help you distinguish between the two:
Good carbs (whole grains)
- Contain moderate calories and more nutrients.
- Have a low glycemic index so they boost satiety for a longer time.
- Rich in fiber so they help your digestive system work well
- Do not contain added or refined sugar
- Low in sodium
- Contain less or no trans fats and saturated fats
- Include foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, plain yogurt, etc.
Bad carbs, as name suggest are the opposite of good carbs
- Have a high glycemic index and higher calories.
- Are very low in nutrients
- Are full of added sugars
- Are low in fiber
- Are high in sodium and may contain high levels of saturated fats
- May have high cholesterol levels and trans fats
- Include foods like white rice, pasta, breakfast cereals, sweet desserts, etc.
What Is A Low-Carb Diet?
A low-carb diet means you eat lesser carbohydrates and a higher portion of protein, fats, and vegetables. Avoid refined sources of carbs like white flour-based bread and pasta, white rice, and starchy foods like beans and potatoes. Instead, consume whole grain foods, proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables. In a low-carb diet, you just need to minimize your intake of sugar and starches.
Many studies have proved that avoiding refined flour, sugar, and starches can help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Reducing sugar intake may help improve your insulin sensitivity and it may also help burn fat burning. Studies also suggest that low glycemic carbohydrates help you lose weight and keep you feeling full longer (2).
You may consume foods with a low GI such as:
- Whole flour, millets( sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet), quinoa, oats, barley, amaranth, etc.
- Legumes and beans
- Green leafy vegetables
- Seasonal fruits
- Low-fat dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
It’s important to choose your carbs carefully as not all carbohydrates are equal. Limit your carbohydrate intake, especially from refined and processed foods, and sugary drinks. Instead, choose whole grains, non-starchy foods and vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. Remember that cutting down on carbs won’t help you unless you replace them with other healthy food options and adjust your calorie intake according to your daily needs. It’s always best to consult a dietitian and healthcare professional to understand what will work for your body and support your weight loss journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some common sources of hidden carbohydrates in my diet and how can I avoid them?
Hidden carbohydrates are often present in many types of food, including processed and packaged foods, sauces, salad dressings, condiments, grains like wheat, rice, and barley, and beverages.
Are there any safety concerns that I should consider when using the carbohydrate calculator?
While carbohydrate calculators can be helpful tools, it’s essential to use them with caution when determining an appropriate diet plan. Factors such as accuracy in information, individual differences in age, sex, weight, activity level, and health conditions are a few factors you should take into account.
Does the carbohydrate calculator provide accurate results for all types of diets, such as ketogenic and low-carb diets?
For some types of diets, like the ketogenic and low-carbohydrate diets, carbohydrate calculators may not give accurate results as these diets have unique needs that standard diets may not meet.
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- Perspective: Does Glycemic Index Matter for Weight Loss and Obesity Prevention? Examination of the Evidence on “Fast” Compared with “Slow” Carbs