Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Lesson on Carbs

I got a text last night. It said...

"How many grams of carbs should a person consume per pound of body weight? I heard it's like 8-10g/lb"

First of all, let's net that one out...let's take a 150lb person and 8g of carbs/lb of bodyweight, that's 1200g of carbs a day. A gram of carbohydrate is worth 4 calories, so that would mean our 150lb person is eating 4800 calories a day just in carbohydrates. Hopefully I just made it painfully obvious that this equation simply won't work.

Carbs are unlike protein in that it's impossible to throw out a number of grams per pound that is likely to work for MOST people. It's usually a safe bet that most people will do well on 1g of protein per pound of body weight. Some need less, some need more, but most can do 1g/lb. With carbs there are many other variables that come into goals, weight loss/gain goals, body type, activity level. Some people are more carb tolerant than others and can function well with a high amount of carbs while others tend to more readily store carbs as fat. There really is not a simply "across-the-board" answer to this question, unfortunately. This is one of those things that you just have to experiment with and determine what works best for your body.

Now, I will say that it seems like many people have a fear of carbs. If you eat the right carbs at the right time, there is no reason to fear carbs. You want to choose carbohydrate sources that are not processed or minimally processed and combine them with a protein source. The brain needs glucose (from carbs) to function. Complex carbohydrates are rich in nutrients and fiber.

Over the last couple years I've experimented with my nutrition a lot to find what works for me. I'm fairly carb tolerant, so I can generally eat a good amount of carbs without gaining extra body fat. The carb cycle seems to work perfect for me when I get it locked in right. I've tried the ketogenic diet (no starchy carbs, just protein and fat) and my body didn't do very well with that. I'm really not a fan of that diet for anyone, actually. I think our bodies are designed to function with complex carbohydrates, not just fat and protein. But, that said, it does seem to work well for some people...a small minority of people.

Bottom line...there's no standard protocol with carbs. Experiment and find out what works best for your body.

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