Eric and I are frequently asked about carbohydrates. How many to have? When to have them? Who should use a low carb diet? Here are some factors to take into consideration when determining how many carbohydrates to have per day.
How many carbs should I have per day?
This question cannot be answered without some background information about YOU! How active are you? What is your age? What is your weight? How many grams of carbohydrate are you currently eating per day? What is the result of that diet at this time? What are your goals? Ask yourself these questions (or fill out a contact form and ask US) and write down your answers, then scope the deets below to figure out your starting point and plan of action.
If you are highly active, you will typically need more grams of carbohydrate per day vs. if you are less active. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. It is best to consume carbohydrates before training and also replenish lost glycogen stores by consuming carbs post training. It is also beneficial to have carbs at breakfast upon waking as glucose stores are depleted while you sleep.
I hate the idea that just because you blow out more birthday candles means you inevitably have a sluggish metabolism. But unfortunately, without proper weight training in the past, you typically will lose muscle mass as you age. Less mass = lower metabolic rate= less energy needed each day= fewer carbs needed each day. Reverse that with a great strength training program and turn back the hands of time.
WEIGHT/ BODY FAT
If you weigh more, you likely can consume more carbs. Hence why many males can eat more carbs than their significant others and not gain weight. A greater amount of lean mass will allow for more carb consumption, while if you have a high body fat level, you may not be able to consume as many carbs as someone with your same weight but less body fat.
If you jumped on the low carb bandwagon and had been riding that for years, do not suddenly begin to eat a high amount of carbs out the gate. You want to start slowly and often assess, so you do not put on unwanted body fat at a rapid rate. Reverse dieting is another blog altogether, but you want to begin to incorporate carbs into your diet slowly. Likewise, if you are consuming a diet high in carbohydrate for your body weight, you would decrease slowly to find the “sweet spot” taking you toward your goal of body fat loss.
In this example, we are talking about those who want to lose body fat. If you want to build lean mass, you will need more carbohydrates to facilitate that process.
Eric and I prefer finding the number of carbs that will begin the fat loss process (and gather consistency for new flexible dieters) and then we will incorporate high carb days and low carb days from there making a cycle for each person. Carb cycling is fantastic in my opinion since it keeps you satisfied, gives you, even more, flexibility with dieting and eating out, and “tricks” your body, so it won’t lower its metabolism as you are dieting.
The steak and potatoes (or the steak and steak if you will ;))
Excess carbohydrates that are not utilized will be stored as fat. Low carb diets without variations (cycling) may cause your body to adapt metabolically and lower your calorie burning capacity. This will also set you up for fat storage when you incorporate carbohydrates back into your diet abruptly.
Ultimately, we think finding a fat loss plan you enjoy that fits your lifestyle is the most important, so it is best to structure your plan taking your regular activities into consideration. Always have Sunday dinner at grandma’s house? Hit legs that day and make Sunday your high carb day. There is always a way to enjoy your life and still hit your fitness goals!
Do any of you carb cycle? Do you prefer low carb? How are your dieting efforts going? We would love to hear from you!