Do you know how many grams of carbohydrates a tortilla has?
How about a serving of rice. And how much is a serving? Is it one-half cup, one-third? If you have three-quarters of a cup, how many grams of carbohydrates is that?
- (If you eat Miracle Rice, it's easy to know how many grams of carbohydrates per serving: 0. Zero. None. Nil.)
How many grams of carbs does a cup of beans have? Do all beans have the same amount of carbohydrates or do Pinto beans have more than Navy?
And what about bread, pasta, potatoes and your other favorite starchy carbohydrates? Not to mention fruits....
As you can see, unless you're Rain Man and have a photographic memory of food labels, it could be an unattainable goal to try and count carbs.
But what you can do is learn what a serving size of various foods is and the corresponding amount of carbs to get a general idea of how many carbohydrates you're consuming on any given day.
- Let's take a serving size of rice (it's one-third cup, by the way) and bread (one slice) for example. Each contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates, so if you had two slices of toast in the morning and some rice for lunch, you'd know you've already consumed about 45 grams of carbs.
If for dinner, you ate a half-cups worth of mashed potatoes and had a small apple for dessert, you're adding another 30 grams of carbs (15 grams each).
Is 75 grams of carbohydrates too much, too little or somewhere in between?
It's impossible to say. Everybody is different. For people who get no exercise, the low end of the carb spectrum is probably better.
- Most health experts suggest that carbohydrate consumption should fall between 45 and 65 percent of total calories, so if you're eating 2,000 calories a day, 1,000 calories (50%) would come from carbs. There are 4 calories in 1 gram of carbohydrates, so 1,000 divided by 4 = 250 grams of carbohydrates.
Does that sound like a shockingly high number of carbs if you're on a low-carb diet?
Pay attention to how you feel throughout the day, and maintain a food journal if you're new to low-carb dieting.
- If you want to severely limit your carb intake, try to spread your carbs throughout the day. Always eat natural fat and foods with fiber (green leafy vegetables are a great source) at every meal to help you stay full and provide you with steady energy. You can safely limit your intake of carbs, but if it's at the expense of feeling depleted energetically and experiencing intense cravings, you're not doing yourself any good by limiting carbs.
And of course, not all carbs are created equally. Stick with old-world European whole grain breads, which are high in fiber and devoid of refined ingredients. But even this kind of bread should be limited to one or two slices daily.
- Your main source of carbs should be low-starch veggies. Again, green veggies are king. Moderate your fruit intake to one serving one or two times per day.
Do this and you won't have to be a Rain Man Carb Counter!
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