Thinking of going low-carb, but now sure how low you should go? No need to worry. Authority Nutrition has a great breakdown of how many carbs you should have a day for a healthy diet. The article provides daily carb count ranges based on what your goal is – weight maintenance or weight loss.
With low-carb diets, there isn’t a specific carb count to follow because we’re all different. Optimal carb intake depends on a lot of factors – gender, age, weight, activity level, and metabolic health, to name a few.
When most people think of low-carb, they instantly think no bread or pasta and break into a panic. It’s true, wheat (and whole wheat) is a no-no. But healthier grains are OK if you’re focus is on weight maintenance or building muscle.
After a couple of days you stop missing wheat. Yes, you do go through carb withdrawal (feeling tired, jittery and cranky) which lasts about 3 days. Your body needs time to stop using carbs as fuel and switch over to burning fat.
As with any diet, when you decrease one of the three micronutrients (in this case, carbs), you compensate with another (more fat and/or protein). The advantage with the low carb approach is that fat and protein fill you up so you don’t eat as much and feel satisfied sooner. For me, carbs are very much like Chinese food. I can eat a lot, but I’m always hungry and hour later. A sure-fire way to pack on the pounds.
So What Are The Optimal Carb Ranges?
- 100-150 Grams Per Day – This range is great if you are lean, active and want to maintain your weight. You can still lose weight at this carb intake level. I ate 75-150g a day when I started weight lifting, eating the healthier grains (quinoa, oats) after a muscle workout. I still lost weight, albeit not as fast as when I eat 20g of carbs a day.
- 50-100 Grams Per Day – This still gives you flexibility in the types of carbs you eat (more fruit, sweet potatoes, nuts) while losing weight. I eat at this level 1-2 times a week to make sure my body doesn’t get use to my routine (helps keep the plateaus at bay…for a while).
- 20-50 Grams Per Day – The sweet spot for maximum weight loss. If you are obese or have diabetes, this is a good range for you. I’ve experienced the bulk of my weight loss when I stay at the low-end of this range. Since I eat about 20g a day, that means I eat a lot of veggies – my main source of carbs. I eat some berries, usually in my protein shake, avocados and the occasional ounce of nuts or seeds.
If you are thinking about eating low-carb and not sure where to start, I suggest you check out Authority Nutrition’s Ultimate Guide to Low Carb Diets.