Getting the right amount of carbs on a daily basis keeps your energy levels high and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. While too many carbs can lead to overweight and obesity, MayoClinic.com reports that eating too few carbs can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, constipation, diarrhea, weakness and fatigue. Meeting – but not exceeding – your daily carb requirements is a healthy goal.
1. Carb RDA
The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, is 130 grams of carbs daily for non-pregnant, non-nursing women, 175 grams during pregnancy and 210 grams of carbs each day for women who are breastfeeding, reports the Institute of Medicine. The IOM also notes that carb RDAs are estimated to meet the carbohydrate needs of 97 to 98 percent of individuals in each population group. Carb RDAs should be treated as minimum goals to aim for on a daily basis.
2. Macronutrient Distribution Range
The Institute of Medicine also provides an acceptable macronutrient distribution range for carbs, which is 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calorie intake. Therefore, when eating 2,000 calories daily, aim to consume at least 225 grams of carbs -- but no more than 325 grams of carbohydrates -- each day. Eating carbs in excess of this recommended range increases your risk for developing chronic diseases or nutrient deficiencies, the IOM reports. Exceptions sometimes occur in athletes.
Since carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, especially during exercise, athletes often require more carbs daily than non-active individuals. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests athletes who engage in light to moderate training eat 2.3 to 3.2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight daily, those who participate in heavy training at high intensities consume 3.2 to 4.5 grams per pound and athletes who train at high intensities for longer than four hours eat 4.5 to 5.5 grams of carbs per pound of their body weight in a day.
4. Healthy Carbs
Choosing healthy carbs to meet your carb RDA helps you meet your daily nutritional needs, while maintaining a healthy body weight. Nutritious carbs are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and soymilk. Stay away from – as much as possible – foods that contain less healthy carbs. These include desserts, sugary beverages, highly processed foods and refined grains – such as white rice and white bread.
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