Wait, no no. Carbs are friends AND food!
Who here has ever been afraid of carbs? (I, for sure, was! A long time ago, I ain’t ashamed to admit it!) But I’m here to tell you today, there’s no need to fear the carb.
Let’s start with, what actually is a carbohydrate? It is simply a macronutrient in your diet, yielding 4 calories per gram (which is the same amount as protein). Carbs are the main energy source in your body, being broken down in glucose and glycogen, fueling both daily activities and muscle contraction during workouts. Carbs can be broken down into two categories: simple and complex. Simple carbs are easily digestible, causing a quick burst of energy and just as quick of a decrease, and include foods such as refined grains and sugars. Complex carbs are harder to digest, being higher in fiber leading to a more gradual energy spike with little to no crash. Complex carbs include foods such as whole grains and vegetables. Both types of carbs are absolutely ok in your diet! Be sure to have a balance though, and, as long as you hit your fiber and don’t go over your carb goals, have some chips.
How many carbs do I need? This is a tricky one. With the craze of the ketogenic diet, the low carb fans are coming back. The ketogenic diet is one that consists of >10% of total calories coming from carbs, 20% coming from protein, and 70% coming from fats. In terms of weight loss, according to the NSCA, keto and normal diets are pound for pound, so it’s really up to you. However, the recommendation for carbs in the everyday diet is between 45-60% of total calories. I personally prefer a range between 35-50% of total calories coming from carbohydrates for both myself and clients. The lower end of the range of carbs is for more aggressive fat loss, but I tend to keep my clients around 40%.
Weight loss comes from a calorie deficit, no matter how much of your diet comes from carbs. Protein helps to keep your muscle mass during times of dieting, so that is non-negotiable in terms of keeping in your diet. The rest is up to you, and your personal preferences.
Long story, short: don’t be afraid of carbs. They’re good for you. Just don’t overdo the sugar, and eat your fiber, and you can absolutely incorporate carbs into your diet, while still reaching your goals.