Tip #11: How many carbs do you need daily?

Obesity levels for the senior population in the U.S. are now over 40 percent. If you are a former high school/college/post-college athlete who has been on the couch for the past 20-30+ years, this series of twice-monthly tips (1st and 15th of the month) will show you how to resume an active lifestyle.

Fortunately, numerous studies have confirmed that it is never too late to resume an active lifestyle. I will show you how to reduce your fitness age, a more reliable indicator of longevity than your BMI, by 20+ years over the next 12-24 months. You will definitely be healthier, happier, and an inspiration for your family, friends, and colleagues. What’s better than that?

How many carbs do you need daily?

What’s so important about carbohydrates? According to the Mayo Clinic, carbohydrates are vital to your health for several reasons:

  • Providing energy. Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel source.
  • Protecting against disease. Some evidence suggests that whole grains and dietary fiber from whole foods help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber may also protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is also essential for optimal digestive health.
  • Controlling weight. Evidence shows that eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains can help you control your weight. Their bulk and fiber content aids weight control by helping you feel full on fewer calories.

The key to carbohydrate consumption is choosing healthy ones in a balanced diet. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following guidelines:

  • Emphasize fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Aim for whole fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar. Other options are fruit juices and dried fruits, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar and therefore have more calories.
  • Choose whole grains. Whole grains are better sources than refined grains of fiber and other important nutrients, sucah a B vitamins.
  • Stick to low-fat dairy products. Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Consider the low-fat versions to help limit calories and saturated fat.
  • Eat more legumes. Legumes, which include beans, peas, and lentils, are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They are typically low in fat and high in essential minerals, and they contain beneficial fats and fiber. They are a good source of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Limit added sugars. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that less than 10 percent of calories you consume every day come from added sugar. That means limit sugary drinks, desserts, and candy, which are packed with calories but low in nutrition.

So, how many calories do you need daily? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories. So, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories (225-325 grams) should be from carbohydrates.

What does 246 grams of carbohydrates, for example, look like?

  • 6 oz of homemade granola: 83 grams
  • 1 medium bagel: 36 grams
  • 1 cup of pasta: 43 grams
  • 1 cup of rice: 45 grams
  • 1 medium baked potato: 37 grams
  • 1 medium banana: 27 grams
  • 1 can of soda: 39 grams (for comparison only)

What have I learned?

I consume between 244-381 grams of carbohydrates daily depending on the intensity of that day’s workouts. I will consume a combination of the following:

  • Breakfast: a medium banana (27 grams), 8 oz of cranberry juice (27 grams), and either 6 oz cup of yogurt (22 grams) or 8 oz of homemade granola (32 grams) = 76-86 grams of carbs
  • Lunch: 2 slices of gluten-free bread (40 grams), 3 clementines (25 grams) = 65 grams of carbs
  • Dinner: 2 servings of Kalamata Chicken with New Potatoes (76 grams) or Spicy Red Beans & Rice (140 grams) or Chicken Fried Rice (136 grams) or Tuna and Broccoli with Noodles (176 grams) = 76-176 grams of carbs
  • Snacks: 1-2 energy bars (27 grams each) = 27-54 grams of carbs

Any questions?

If you have any questions about living an active lifestyle or about your cycling goals, training, racing, or gear, I’d like to hear from you. I may address your questions in a future tip. Just drop me a note.

Tip #12 Preview: How much protein do you need daily?