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How Many Carbs Should You Eat per Day to Lose Weight?

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Last updated: August 2, 2022

One of the most common questions I get as a personal fitness coach is about dietary macros and how many carbs people should eat to lose weight.

Everyone’s metabolism is different, and age, gender, and activity levels all have an influence on weight loss. But carb intake seems to be one area where most people can make a big difference.

So, to find out whether there’s a good guideline on crabs, I got together with my dietitian and a nutritionist to research literature on low-carb diet plans for weight loss.

Here’s what I found.

Quick Summary

  • Most people have a carbohydrate intake that is much too high, even when they stick to a low-calorie diet.
  • To effectively lose weight, you have to make sure that you limit your carb consumption.
  • It’s also important to understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates and how they impact your blood sugar.

How Many Carbs Should You Eat To Lose Weight?

Top view of simple carbs

You should eat less than 150 grams of carbs to lose weight on a consistent basis. This is based on an average calorie intake of about 2,000 calories [1].

This would generally be classed as quite a low level of carb intake, but even eating less than 200 grams of carbs a day would be less than the majority of people consume.

At the more extreme end of low-carb weight-loss dieting is the ketogenic diet, which instructs people to consume less than 50 grams of carbs a day to trigger ketosis.

More on this shortly.

“If you eat somewhere between 100-150 grams of carbs, you’re way lower than average, and your body is quickly burning through its liver carb stores. If you eat extra protein, that can provide a buffer to replenish these stores.”

- Kamal Patel, Co-founder & Editor at Examine.com

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Why Is Eating Fewer Carbs Important?

Eating fewer carbs is important for weight loss because a lot of carbs are easily digested and broken down into sugar. That sugar then enters the bloodstream quickly and can lead to sudden blood sugar spikes [2].

What happens next is that a lot of damage is done to weight management.

As your glucose levels spike, your pancreas releases insulin in order to deal with the excess amounts. And most excess energy gets stored in the form of fat [3].

Basically, the more carbs you consume, the more your blood sugar fluctuates. And if that energy spike doesn’t get consumed by physical activity, then you have a much higher chance of weight gain.

The idea behind a low-carb diet is to replace some of your carb intake with healthy fats and protein. And because your body digests fat and protein a lot slower than carbs, this stabilizes your blood glucose levels [4].

And when your daily calorie intake is lower than your total energy expenditure, then you should be set up for losing weight considerably more effectively.

To achieve the best weight loss results, it’s also important to count the types of carbs you’re consuming.

Related: Should I Eat Back The Calories I Have Burned

Types Of Carbohydrates

Top view of raw fruits and vegetable

Just reducing your total daily carb intake to lose weight could still be an issue because not all carbs are created equally.

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs are made up of long sugar molecules that form complex chains. And these chains take a while for your stomach and metabolism to break down [5].

You’ll typically find these complex carbs in starchy vegetables and whole grains that haven't been processed. Think of vegetables like yams or squash, and these good carbs do have a place in a healthy weight loss.

I’ll get to some low-carb diet examples shortly, but you should try to limit your carbohydrate intake to these complex types.

Simple Carbs

Simple carbohydrates occur naturally in some types of food, but you’ll mostly find them as refined carbs in processed food [6]. Think of things like fruit and dairy products as natural sources of simple carbs.

While anything with added sugar, like sodas and candy bars, would be a source of refined carbohydrates. And these are the ones you should absolutely avoid on a low-carb diet.

If at all possible, aim to limit how many calories you get from these carb sources to an absolute minimum.

What Do Low-Carb Diets Look Like?

Healthy avocado, egg and cereal breakfast

Typical low-carb diets essentially involve low-carb eating with an increase in fat and protein consumption. It all comes down to how many grams of protein you consume.

Less Than 200 Grams Of Carbohydrates

Two hundred grams per day would be lower than general dietary guidelines [7]. And if you get less than 20 grams from complex carbs, then this should translate into a good impact on body fat.

I find this is a good starting point for people, and it won’t be overly challenging to adjust your healthy diet.

100 To 150 Grams Of Carbohydrates

This is where I feel you start making a more targeted effort of a low-carbohydrate diet, and it’s about half the daily dietary guidelines mentioned above.

I would also suggest that you get less than 10 grams per day from simple and refined carbohydrates. You’ll need to replace all your pasta, white rice, and typical breakfast cereals with whole grains and raw vegetables.

Less Than 50 Grams Of Carbohydrates

This is where you’re getting into the range for the keto diet with less than 50 grams of carbs per day [8]. This is where your metabolism switches from creating blood glucose to ketones by processing dietary and body fat.

It’s possible to achieve rapid weight loss with low carb consumption, but it can be quite a struggle to maintain such a diet.

3 Tips For Cutting Back

Top view of strict food diet

Here are three tips for trying to lose weight with low carbohydrate diets.

1. Set An Achievable Goal

If you’re new to low-carb diets and you’re currently still eating a large volume of carbs, then don’t jump straight into keto.

Taking such drastic actions can increase your chances of failure because the transition is so significant.

Instead, start to cut carbs gradually and focus on eliminating the refined type of carbs.

2. Remove All Processed Foods

Sugary treats close up image

You’ll be surprised how easily you can eliminate a lot of carbs by removing processed foods and sugary treats.

Getting to 150 grams of carbs a day to lose weight is so much easier when you stop eating that candy bar that contains 40 grams of sugar.

And if you tend to eat carbs as snacks, then switch to nuts and seeds to help you feel full and avoid hunger cravings [9].

3. Track Your Intake

And finally, don’t guess how many carbs you’re eating. You have to keep track of all your macronutrient intake, and the easiest way to do that is the Noom application.

It will allow you to enter your daily meals and will then calculate macros and calories.

At the end of each day, you’ll see exactly how many calories came from what sources. With that information, you can then make some adjustments.

Get Your Macros And Supplements Aligned

Planning a diet strategy

To create an effective weight loss strategy, I also recommend that my clients and reader take a close look at aligning dietary macros with the right supplement stack.

First of all, when you’re trying to lose weight, you can achieve faster results by adding more protein to your balanced diet [10].

Eating more protein a day to lose weight can become a challenge, though. But with a simple whey protein shake, you’ll easily get a tasty boost.

You should also consider how metabolic boosters can supplement your weight loss diet.

These typically include thermogenic ingredients that have a unique impact on your metabolism [11].

Basically, your body slightly raises its core temperature, and it uses energy stored in fat and blood glucose to fuel that increase.

So, between eating fewer calories and burning off more energy, you can get to your ideal weight considerably faster.

FAQs

Do All Carbs Make You Gain Weight?

No, not all carbs make you gain weight. It’s mainly due to simple sugars and carbs and an excessive calorie intake that can lead to belly fat and ultimately obesity.

Can You Eat Too Few Carbs?

Yes, you can eat too few carbs. Even on extreme restriction diets like keto, you should still eat some carbs each day to maintain healthy glucose levels.

Align Your Carbs With Your Weight Loss Goals

You don’t have to resort to extreme low-carb diets in order to lose weight more effectively. But it’s important to understand that how many carbs and what type of carbs you eat will have a significant impact on your body composition.

Start reducing your carbs today, and if you want to see a faster reduction in fat reserves, then consider adding the next fat burners to your supplement stack.

These can slightly boost your metabolic rate to burn off more calories and fat. And over the weeks and months ahead, those small amounts will add up to quite a few pounds.


References:

  1. https://examine.com/nutrition/does-low-carb-have-an-official-definition/
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/
  3. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/diabetes/normal-regulation-blood-glucose
  4. https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/foods-longer-digest-others-11622.html
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19529.htm
  6. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19534.htm
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705
  8. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet
  9. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/100/suppl_1/412S/4576547
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7539343/
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/thermogenesis
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