I recently came across a website that promised to tell me how many grams of carbohydrate I needed to consume in one day. I was intrigued because I was sure that it would entirely overestimate my need for carbohydrate. If you want to check it out for yourself here is the link.
It began by asking some simple questions. Age, height, gender, frame size (small, medium or large) and activity level. Through these simple questions it came up with the number of grams of carbohydrates I ‘need’ to consume in one day. The number? 376 grams! Yes, 376. Just in case you can’t quite put your finger on what this means, let me put this into perspective for you. Five grams of carbohydrate is equal to one teaspoon of sugar in your blood. So if I were to consume 376 grams of carbohydrates in one day that would be equal to 75 teaspoons of sugar!
Now, the website does stress that there are different kinds of carbs. They mention complex vs. simple and that when consuming carbohydrates as many of them as possible should be complex. While this is true, if you consume 376 grams of carbohydrates per day it won’t matter if they’re simple or complex. You will not be healthy.
Just in case you still can’t wrap your head around just how much 376 grams of carbohydrates are I have posted a list below of food that would fit into my ‘diet’ if I chose to heed this ridiculous advice.
I could eat…
- 20 raw, medium apples or
- 19 raw, Florida oranges or
- 14 bowls of Cheerios or
- 17 bowls of Special K or
- 25 pieces of whole wheat bread (more than a loaf) or
- 13 whole breakfast bars
I could go on and on, but the list above just shows how much you would have to eat in one day in order to consume 376 grams of carbohydrates. Apples are good for you, don’t get me wrong. But 20 apples in a day would not be. The sugar content would lead to problems down the road for sure.
The website where I found this touts that it is for “Consumer Health News, Information and Resources Updated Daily.” In a country where obesity is a major problem and the biggest cause is over consumption of carbohydrates, this website only feeds the problem. The amount of carbohydrates they advise people to consume is not only ridiculous but it is unhealthy.
When I have patients in my office and they want to improve their health I will routinely recommend that they get no more than 60 grams of carbohydrate per day. People often say, “But don’t you need them for energy?” The answer is no. The body is perfectly capable of burning fat for energy. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Fats and proteins are considered essential nutrients meaning they must be obtained from diet.
If you want to be healthy, limit your carbohydrate intake and eat a diet that is filled with protein and healthy fats. The carbohydrates that you get should be from fruits and vegetables. Keep grain products low in your diet.