Saturday, August 11, 2012

Information on the Big Carb or No Carb Debate

It all gets very confusing.  Low carb / high protein; low fat / low carb; counting calories; counting points; everything in moderation; and so on.  But which one is correct?  I'm all for the one which you can maintain for the long haul.  There are some things I'm kind of against, though, and I'll tell you why.

My doctor said for me to not have more than 20g carbs per day that aren't vegetables.  20g.  That's it.  My mouth just kind of dropped open as I stared at him blankly.  That's less than 2 pieces of regular sandwich bread (about 24g).  That's less than my 1/4 c oatmeal, 1/2 c milk and 2 tsp of stevia in the morning (which comes to just 23.5g).  I did Atkin's for a few months, and I lost a lot of weight on it at first, but it was absolutely impossible for me to maintain, which didn't do me any good.  For some people, like my doctor, it works very well.  For me, not so much.  And that's the key to this whole lifestyle change...what can you do now and maintain later?

And, his recommendation didn't jive at all with the research I had been doing on the internet about how many carbs I should be having a day for a diabetic and heart healthy lifestyle.  Actually, it was very different.  According to an article written by the Mayo Clinic (I try to use highly reputable sources for my information btw), carbs are essential to your body's function.  First, understand that carbs come from fiber, starch and sugar.  You should get your carbs mostly from fruits and vegetables, legumes and beans and low fat dairy.  You should get carbs from starches that are whole grain, such as brown rice.  And then you should limit those things with added or refined sugar.

Additionally in this article (link above), and also backed by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and here by the American Diabetes Association you should be eating 45-60g carbs PER MEAL, and your daily carbs should be about 45%-65% of your total calories.  As an example, if you eat 1500 calories per day, and each gram of carbs is 4 calories, then 50% of your carbs would be 187g carbs per day.  (1500 x 50% = 750 calories / 4 calories each g carb = 187g carbs)

When I finally got my nutritionist, who specializes in healthy diabetic lifestyles and is also a life-change coach, it matched with exactly what she told me...45g carbs per meal (men should have a little more at about 60 per meal) and 15g carbs per snack.  So if I have 3 meals a day (and you should distribute your carbs as evenly as possible between meals) and 3 snacks a day, that would be 180g carbs per day.

Why should you have that many carbs a day?  The article I referenced above by the Mayo Clinic goes into more detail, but it says that carbs are essential for many of your body's processes such as providing energy (especially to the brain and nervous system), protecting against diseases like cardiovascular problems, and healthy carbs can also help people maintain their weight. 

In the end, low carb diets are not more effective for weight loss than a diet monitoring calories.  A low carb diet will help you lose weight more quickly initially, but over the course of a year the weight loss evens out between the two. (Harvard School of Public Health)

For me, based on what my professional nutritionist advises and by highly reputable sources on the internet agreeing with the exact numbers she gave me, it is best that I have about 45%-65% of your total daily calories in carbs.  Not 20 like my doctor suggested.

As for counting points, I'm not that familiar with it personally.  I did do Weight Watchers briefly a long time ago, but I don't remember much about it.  I will have to do more research.

Along with keeping my carbs in check I count my calories.  After all, weight loss (and gain) comes down to a very simple fact...if you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.  If you eat less calories than you burn you will lose weight.  I try to keep my calories around 1400 per day.  If I stick to it, it will give me a weight loss of about 1 lb per week.  More on this another day, but if you'd like to start counting calories more easily and get an idea of how many calories a day you are burning and should be eating, check out  It is free to register and use and it is an awesome website.  I wouldn't have been able to lose my 46 pounds so far if I didn't have that tool.

So, if you decide to keep up with my blog, you will see that the recipes I post and products I review will probably have carbs in them.  But they are at a healthy level, and that's the key for me.  What is healthy and what can I maintain for the long term?

Thoughts, anyone?  If you'd like to reach me I am at  Please don't send me hate mail though...I am not saying that people on a low carb diet are wrong or bad.  I'm saying that a diet with carbs is just as good, and maybe even better for many people because of the fact that it is easier to keep up with for a long time since it is less restrictive.

Be well,

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