How many carbohydrates should you eat?

The energy that we get from foods, measured in calories, comes from three types of nutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates take only about half an hour to an hour after a meal to be turned into blood glucose. The word "carbohydrate" actually means "sugars and starches." Chemically, a starchy food is just a "chain" of glucose molecules.

Any food that is high in any type of carbohydrate will raise blood glucose levels soon after a meal. Whether a food contains one ounce of sugar (natural or refined) or one ounce of starch, it will raise blood glucose the same amount, because the total amount of CARBOHYDRATE is the same. Although a glass of fruit juice and the same amount of sugary soda may seem like a "good" versus "bad" choice, each will raise blood glucose about the same amount. 

Carbs have 4 calories per gram. We hear a lot about low carb diets but, what is "low carbs" anyway:
  • The National Academy of Sciences recommends no less than 120 grams of carbs per day
  • The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 300 grams of carbs per 2000 calories (about 60% of total calories)
  • Atkins initially recommends 20 grams per day (less than 5%)
  • Protein Power recommends about 12-15% of calories should be carbs (that's 60-75 grams for a 2000 calorie plan)
  • The Zone advises keeping carbs at 40% of total calories (that's 200 grams for a 2000 calorie plan)
It's tough to sort out which amount or percentage is right for each person as most lives and persons are simply not the same.  Take in account economics and this will also effect the amounts consumed followed shortly by the age group of the person doing the eating.  Most recent Norwegian studies seem to indicate that a diet should contain no more than 40% carbs.  Why?  It seems that above 40% the body suffers some inflammation and prompts diabetes.  

So there you go. Pick your advisor:

  1. The scientific community says 120 grams
  2. The government says 300 grams
  3. Dr. Atkins thought 20 was the answer
  4. A for profit business endorsed 60-75 grams
  5. A popular book from Norway thinks it is 200 grams
For me, I tried Atkins and felt great. Historically, the government changes it's answer far to often on the subject for me to listen to them now. Eat high carbs and generally you feel more stuffed and seem more burned out later after the glucose rush wears off.  I talked to many on the Zone plan and they all say that they don't have wild hunger swings. Protein Power's recommendation seems reasonable at the lower end.  Going really low, it's just simply to hard to control and easy to become REALLY hungry.  The win goes to Norway and 200 grams.

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