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HOW MANY CARBS SHOULD YOU EAT PER DAY TO LOSE WEIGHT: GUIDELINES THAT WORK 90% OF THE TIME

An individual’s optimal carb intake depends on age, gender, body composition, activity levels, personal preference, food culture and current metabolic health.

People who are physically active and have more muscle mass can tolerate a lot more carbs than people who are sedentary. This particularly applies for those who do a lot of high intensity, anaerobic work like lifting weights or sprinting.

Metabolic health is also a very important factor. When people get the metabolic syndrome, become obese or get type II diabetes, the rules change.

People who fall into this category can’t tolerate the same amount of carbs as those who are healthy. Some scientists even refer to these problems as “carbohydrate intolerance.”

GUIDELINES THAT WORK 90% OF THE TIME

Girl Eating Sandwich

If you simply remove the unhealthiest carb sources from your diet, refined wheat and added sugars, then you’ll be well on your way to improved health.

However, to enjoy the full metabolic benefits of low-carbohydrate diets, you also need to restrict other carb sources.

Even though there is no scientific paper that explains exactly how to match carbohydrate intake to individual needs, I have personally found these guidelines to be very effective.

100-150 GRAMS PER DAY

This is more of a “moderate” carbohydrate intake. It is very appropriate for people who are lean, active and simply trying to stay healthy and maintain their weight.

It is very possible to lose weight at this (and any) carb intake, but it may require you to count calories and/or control portions.

Carbs you can eat:

  • All the vegetables you can imagine.
  • Several pieces of fruit per day.
  • Some amount (not a lot) of healthy starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes and healthier grains like rice and oats.

50-100 GRAMS PER DAY

This range is great if you want to lose weight effortlessly while allowing for a bit of carbs in the diet. It is also a great maintenance range for people who are carb sensitive.

Carbs you can eat:

  • Plenty of vegetables.
  • Maybe 2-3 pieces of fruit per day.
  • Minimal amounts of starchy carbohydrates.

20-50 GRAMS PER DAY

This is where the metabolic benefits really start to kick in. This is the perfect range for people who need to lose weight fast, or are metabolically deranged and have obesity or diabetes.

When eating less than 50 grams per day, your body will get into ketosis, supplying energy for the brain via so-called ketone bodies. This is likely to kill your appetite and cause you to lose weight automatically.

Carbs you can eat:

  • Plenty of low-carb vegetables.
  • Some berries, maybe with whipped cream (yum).
  • Trace carbs from other foods like avocados, nuts and seeds.

Be aware that a low-carb diet is NOT no-carb. There is room for plenty of low-carb vegetables (full list here). Personally I had never eaten as many veggies as when I first started on a low-carb diet.

IMPORTANT TO EXPERIMENT

We are all unique and what works for one person may not for the next. It is important to do some self-experimentation and figure out what works for you.

If you have a medical condition then make sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes, because this diet can drastically reduce your need for medication!
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