Contrary to the fad diet craze, carbohydrates can be part of a healthy diet and don't necessarily add to unwanted weight gain. Like anything, your carb intake should be balanced and derived from a variety of sources.
If you're eating an 1,800-calorie diet, you might allow for 75 grams of carbohydrates for breakfast, 50 to 60 grams for lunch and dinner, and the rest for snacking.
Total Carbohydrates Per Day
Carbohydrates generally make up the bulk of the average person's diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, between 45 and 65 percent of your total daily calories should be carbohydrates.
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For example, if you're on an 1,800-calorie-per-day diet, you would need to consume between 810 and 1,170 calories from carbohydrates in an average day. Since one gram of carbs equals four calories, that means between 202 and 293 grams per day.
Carbohydrates Per Meal
Once you've determined how many grams of carbohydrates you need per day, you can break them up into values for each of your meals and snacks. For breakfast, many people reach for cereal, oatmeal or toast, meaning their first meal of the day is rich in carbohydrates.
Conversely, lunch and dinner generally feature protein as the main portion, so you'll likely consume fewer carbs at those meals. Snacks, again, are usually carbohydrate-based, so don't forget to balance your eating plan to include one or two high-carb snacks in a day.
Back to the example of an 1,800-calorie diet, if you have 810 to 1,170 grams of carbohydrates allotted for the day, you might allow for 75 grams of carbohydrates during breakfast, 50 to 60 grams for lunch and dinner, and the rest for snacking.
Certain people, like those who have diabetes, need to limit the amount of carbohydrates they eat at each meal. Eating too many carbohydrates at one time can increase blood sugar levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association, most diabetics should eat 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates at each meal. However, your needs may be different. If you have diabetes, talk t your doctor about how many carbohydrates you should eat.
Not all carbs are created equal; some have more nutrients (like vitamins, minerals and fiber) than others. When choosing carbohydrates, try to pick unprocessed or whole sources — fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain rice, barley, oats and wheat. Limit or avoid processed and refined sugars, such as white bread, soda and desserts.
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