How many carbs should you eat per day?

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

General guidelines around daily carbohydrate (carbs) intake suggest your diet should be 45-65% carbs. Meaning if you're daily caloric intake is 2000 calories, 900-1300 should be carbs. This equates to around 225-325g of carbs per day.

I would agree that this guideline is fairly accurate for most people. But there is a big difference between 45% and 65%. So how do you establish which end of the scale is right for you.

Well, there's a few questions you should ask before setting your own personal daily carb consumption...

  • Do I generally react well to carbs?

  • What is my overall goal?

  • Am I exercising today?

  • If so, what type of training am I doing?

Do I generally react well to carbs?

If you don't react well to carbs, you will experience excessive bloating due to a slight intolerance (could be to a specific type of carbohydrate i.e. gluten). Or you may notice that fat tends to store quicker when you eat more carbs (you may have poor insulin responses to carbs). Both of these are an indicator that your carb intake should be low. In this rare case I would look at dropping carbs down to around 30% and increasing fats to alleviate such symptoms.

What is my overall goal?

If you're goal is weight/fat loss. Then again, it would be advisable to be at the lower end of the recommended carb intake. Not because carbs are some concoction of the devil that immediately make you gain fat - but because the majority massively over consume carbs. Therefore, if you limit your carb intake, generally, you reduce you overall calorie intake.

On the other hand, if your goal is building muscle. It's advisable to be at the higher end of the recommended daily carb intake. Carbs, along with protein, are a key driver in building muscle. They restore muscle glycogen (carbs that have been digested and stored in the muscle) and increase insulin levels within the body (a hormone that is highly anabolic helping us retain muscle mass). Carbs are essential when trying to build and maintain muscle.

Am I exercising today?

If you're exercising then muscles are being worked, which again, means that muscle glycogen needs replenishing. Still governed by your overall goals, you may want to increase your carb intake by 5-10% on days you train - based on how hard your sessions was. Which segue's nicely into...

If so, what type of training am I doing?

Exercise that breaks down more muscle will warrant a higher carbohydrate intake. For example - if you adopt a bodybuilding style of training, going through various hypertrophy techniques that leave you with skin splitting pumps, you may want to add the full 10% extra carbs mentioned in the question above ^. If you're simply running for 20mins to an hour, you won't require as much many carbs and may want to only increase by 5% more, based around your overall goal.

But there is a spectrum of exercise in-between the above mentioned sessions i.e. gym classes, CrossFit style training etc. Judge accordingly and carb up when muscles have been worked harder.


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