Friday, 15 April 2011

How many carbohydrates do we actually need?

So we’ve discussed fasting and the fact that we don’t need carbohydrates during exercise. Technically, exercising without replacing the lost carbohydrates would be a form of fasting in itself, but just how many carbohydrates do we need on a regular basis? The answer is none. We don’t need any; many people have survived on animal fat and protein and been perfectly healthy such as the Inuit Eskimoes where there is often no vegetation; but I’m not all for the Dr Atkins’s 0 carbs philosophy as I feel we are losing a lot of dietary nutrients from fruit and vegetables. Though for accelerated weight loss for someone severely overweight, it may not be a bad bet in the short run.

50g would signify the minimum that we need to avoid muscle break down and so anything below this would mean you are in ketosis, a state where one has higher levels of ketones in the body though we don’t need to go into that in too much detail.

But that still might be a bit too extreme for some, it certainly is for me. Between 50 and 100g will still aid fat loss and 100 to 150g is a good area to be in for healthy weight maintenance once you’ve reached you’re desired body composition.

120g of carbohydrates per day are fine provided you obtain them from healthy fruits and vegetables and not bread, pasta, rice and other man-made food. I’ll discuss what foods in terms of dietary carbohydrates to eat in a later article though.

Meanwhile, if you are a regular exerciser, because you are heavily involved in sport then you may find that you need to increase your dietary carbohydrates. Carbo-loading is an extra 480 – 720g of carbohydrates and it is for endurance athletes and this I don’t recommend because it is against the whole Paleo training ethos. To be honest you don’t want to be taking in too much more than you actually need, though typically a bodybuilder needs between 160 and 480 extra grams of carbohydrates and I’ll detail in a later article why such extra needs for both bodybuilders and endurance athletes – technically polar opposites – can be detrimental to health. 
Here's a picture of an Inuit Eskimo family whose diet frequently consists of solely meat and fish.