It’s taken me a couple days worth of fact checking before I was confident enough to tackle the topic of Carbs. I must confess I relied heavily upon the McKinley Health Centre resources as well as Prevention Magazine (which I personally adore) and cross referenced between a few other sources.
Carbs (carbohydrates) are one of the most misunderstood of the macronutrients. Where as some studies suggest we don’t need them, others say they are essential. When you look at their functions within the body, I’m going to have to agree they are essential. What they do is provide the bulk of the energy we require to fuel our daily metabolic processes as well as our activity. Without them we would experience a wide spread decrease in organ functions as well as overall fatigue and muscle tissue breakdown and degeneration. That’s not exactly my definition of health!
The problem arises not with carb intake itself but with the types of carbs we intake as well as the quantity we consume them in. Carbs convert to sugar! Sugar is addictive and excess amounts of sugar are stored in the liver and muscle tissues of the body for later use. If we don’t utilize those energy stores they convert to fat deposits around the liver and between the muscle tissues and outer lying skin wall.
The trick is to eat the right kind of carbs in an amount that is sufficient enough to fuel the body but not excessive enough to store in our tissues and carry around for the next 10 years.
So here’s the skinny on good and bad carbs:
You get the gist. Refined is bad, whole is good.
Now contained within your good carbohydrate selections are simple sugars and starches that your body can break down, process and assimilate for immediate use as well as fibre which is necessary for maintaining intestinal functions and colon health.
Now here’s the all time, award winning question! How many calories in carbohydrates should you consume?
Briefly, here is the general break down of caloric content.
1 gram of Carbs = 4 calories
1 gram of Protien = 4 calories
1 gram of Fat = 9 calories
(Well that’s awesome Cassandra, but you didn’t answer my question!)
Here’s where a food journal is truly worth it’s weight in gold!
If we take our 10 x Body Weight Rule of Thumb for calorie consumption this is how we figure it out.
At 150 lbs x 10 you would require a minimum of 1500 calories per day.
Women need between 1 and 1.25 grams of carbs per lb of body weight daily for low level activity, 2.3 to 3.2 grams per lb for moderate activity and 2.5 to 4.5 grams per lb for high intensity.
A sample calculation would look like this
1.25 x 150 = 187.5 grams of carbohydrates
187.5 grams x 4 calories = 750.8 calories
You need 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight daily
1 x 150 = 150 grams of protein
150 grams x 4 calories = 600 calories
Fat Calculation (because fats are essential to brain function!):
What ever is left over.
Total Calories – (Carbohydrates + Protein)
1500 – (750.8 + 600) = 150 calories (16.66 grams of fat)
Note: There are discrepancies between the experts as to whether we should use the 10 x Body Weight Rule of Thumb or a 12 x Body Weight Rule of Thumb on calorie consumption. The 10 x Rule is based on someone with a low to moderate level of activity. (I myself burn a ridiculous amount of calories and 10 x my body weight isn’t going to be enough to fuel my activity without causing a sense of brain fog; fatigue or muscle tissue break down).
There are a variety of resources and calculators available on line to help you calculate your caloric needs based on age, weight, gender and activity level. All of them come up with roughly the same base line within a hundred calories or so. The key objective to lose weight safely and effectively is to take whatever it is you’re currently eating and remove 500 calories from your diet. Simultaneously, you should be increasing your level of activity to burn an additional 500 calories more than what you already are on a daily basis. In theory this is awesome! However you need to establish what your basic intake already is along with your level of activity. The calculations above are the bare minimum you require…so please don’t go below these numbers. Where as it seems easier to just eliminate calories from your diet to create that 500 calorie deficit, you’re actually compromising your all over physical health by eating too little of what your body needs. It’s better and healthier to maintain your basic intake and increase your activity to create the necessary deficit that will allow you to shed those unwanted pounds.
- I research everything…and then I cross reference and fact check…and then do it all over again!
- Carbs are not the enemy, they are essential!
- Refined Carbs = Bad, Whole and Natural Carbs = Good
- Body Mass and Math sucks, but it’s a necessary evil.
- Food Journal!!! It’s like gold!!!
- Before you eliminate calories, figure out how many you need.
- Once you’ve established your average, daily intake and you’re in the clear for consumption a good general guideline for weight loss is to reduce calories by 500 and increase activity by 500 calories burned.
Coming up next…Proteins!