ANSWER: AS MANY AS POSSIBLE, WITHOUT PUTTING ON WEIGHT OR BODY FAT.
Let’s start from the beginning…
I used to be afraid of carbs.
I thought it was bad to eat them. I thought they would make me gain weight.
I was completely wrong and un-educated at that time.
Praise the Lord I am over that fear now and have embraced carbs as a friend, not an enemy.
I mean, talk about an UN-balanced diet!! What kind of diet is just proteins + fats? A pretty sucky one.
You NEED carbs for:
- energy / fuel
- brain function
- muscle function
- intestinal health
No wonder I used to have trouble concentrating!
Well not anymore. You NEED carbs.
The only thing is, they need to be GOOD/HEALTHY carbs.
So How Much should I Eat?
The USDA recommends that Carbohydrates make up 45-65% of your daily calories.
The amount is dependent on your activity level as well.
So below I will show you a way to calculate your goals.
BUT….Keep in mind that this is purely goals. Ideally, you want to eat as many carbs as possible without putting on weight or body fat. Ideally, this # is increasing more and more over time.
How to Calculate Your Needs
(italics are my examples, using my body weight of 120 lbs)
Step #1 Calculate how many Calories to eat per day
Calories per Day = 15 x Bodyweight in pounds
Calories per Day = 15 x 120lbs = 1,800 calories for me!
(this would be decreased if weight loss is your goal; kept the same if weight maintenance is your goal)
Step #2 Calculate how much Carbs to eat per day
Carbs per Day (low/mod intensity day) = Calories per day x 0.45
Calories per Day = 1800 x 0.45 = 810 calories of carbs
Carbs per Day (mod/high intensity day) = Calories per day x 0.65
Carbs per Day = 1800 x 0.65 = 1,170 calories of carbs
So for me, I should be eating between 810-1170 calories of carbs per day, depending on my workout intensity. So the days I am resting or just lifting smaller body parts, I would eat 810 calories of carbs. But the days I am doing HIIT or lifting larger body parts, I would eat 1170 calories of carbs.
How many carbs you eat should depends on your activity level. The days you are doing sprints and working big groups like legs, you are burning more calories! So you need to replenish those extra calories you burned!
Step #3 Calculate Grams from Calories
Now that you know how to figure out how many calories of carbs you need, you simply need to convert that to grams.
So take the # calories of carbs and divide by 4.
810 calories of carbs / 4 = 202.50g of carbs on low/mod days
1170 calories of carbs / 4 = 292.50g of carbs on mod/high days
That means, between my 6 meals a day, I need to reach 202.50g of Carbs on my low/mod days. That provides me with 45% of my daily calories. The other 55% of calories will then come from proteins + fats.
It seems like a lot
If you are used to low carb diets, this probably seems like a lot to you. But trust me, your body will love you! You will feel more energized and fueled for your workouts. Remember, carbs are your friend.
Healthy Carb Options
So what are some healthy carb options to eat?
- Ezekiel Bread or English Muffins (can be found at Whole Foods)
- Brown Rice
- Oatmeal (try mixing in some protein powder with it!)
- Sweet Potato (sprinkle some cinnamon on!)
- Whole Wheat Pasta
There are obviously many other options, just track your Macro’s accordingly.
If this concept is new to you and you have spent years eating low carbs (like me), then take caution when adding carbs back into your diet. You don’t want to immediately go from eating 50g of carbs a day up to 200g of carbs a day or else you will BLOW UP!
So here is the safe way to do it:
Add 5g of carbs every 2 weeks. Continue doing this as long as you are maintaining weight. If you start to gain weight, then hold that # steady until you are able to maintain again. Once you are able to maintain, then resume with adding 5g every 2 weeks. It is a slow process, but well worth the patience.
Why do we do this? Well slowly adding in carbs allows your body and metabolism time to adjust.
So let’s be honest….this is hard! I probably used to eat less than 50g of carbs a day. Everyday. For several years. Once I learned how stupid that was, I have put in the effort to change that. But it has been hard for me. I am only up to 121g of carbs on low/mod days and 200g of carbs on mod/high days right now (while maintaining weight). That’s awful! I need to be eating more. So I am glad I am writing up this post for you all, because I am not perfect. And it is a good reminder for me to get more disciplined with my carb progress. Time to step up my game and get those carbs as high as possible!
To conclude, the more carbs, the better.
Just don’t let this happen 😉
Try some of my healthy waffle recipes instead!