I received great feedback on my last post The Skinny on Carbohydrate Appropriate Eating. It made me realize there is a need for more detail, and charts to download and print. Here you go…
Carbohydrate counting clarification
In spite of this post, I am actually not a fan of counting anything in your diet long term. This includes calories and carbohydrates (carbs). However, some of us need some guidance on what our bodies need. We may not have learned the basics growing up. It’s very easy to get confused about macronutrient needs (protein, carbohydrate, fat). It’s also very easy to overeat, especially satiating refined carbohydrates.
Some women do well with long-term food tracking, but for most of us it creates its own kind of food obsession or eating disorder. That’s why I recommend tracking short-term in order to learn about the types and amounts of carbs to aim for. You can learn what amount will allow you to maintain, lose, or gain weight. Once you learn, you can graduate from counting, measuring, and tracking forever.
For those with insulin resistant genes
This is especially useful for those of us who have thrifty insulin resistant genes. When these genes are expressed, you may love and crave refined carbohydrates, and your body may eagerly turn them into fat as storage.
My ancestors were from northern and eastern Europe, cold climates in which there was not fruit or starchy carbohydrates available during the winter. Our thrifty genetics allowed my ancestors to eat starchy carbs during the summer, and put on some weight to get through the leaner winters.
In this day and age it’s not so useful to have thrifty insulin resistant genes, as we are not in famines in developed countries. Instead we have way too many carbohydrates available all year round. Cheap, sugared up, refined carbohydrates that cause blood sugar to soar and crash, causing hypoglycemic symptoms.
High blood sugar causes high insulin. When high insulin is chronic, insulin receptors become resistant, and we turn that sugar into fat. Insulin resistance is a spectrum, with full blown type II diabetes at the end.
The good news is that if you catch insulin resistance before it has progressed too far, it’s completely reversible with diet and movement alone. I love seeing people turn their numbers around and reverse insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and diabetes. The numbers to keep in line include triglycerides, fasting insulin, fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c, at a minimum. At the end of the last post I wrote target ranges.
Do you carry these genes? Are there people in your family who fall on the insulin resistance spectrum? Is your belly larger in circumference than your hips? If so, this information is for you.
Follow these surprisingly simple steps . . .
1. Figure out your ideal caloric intake.
Be aware that this can change if your size and activity level changes.
USE THIS free calculator.
2. Determine your ideal daily net carbohydrate content with the following chart for women.
This chart is divided into different daily caloric intakes. You can view it below and you can also download it. These carb amounts refer to “net carbs,” meaning after fiber is subtracted. Fiber doesn’t count, because it’s food for your gut bacteria. Just to be clear, the range of net carbs are the amounts to eat over a given day.
DOWNLOAD Carb Chart For Women
3. Alternately, use this method to determine where you fall on the above chart
- Calculate your standard BMI here. Or calculate your smart BMI here. Or calculate your BMI with more detail (activity level and body measurements) here.
- If your BMI is normal (under 26) and you just want to maintain weight, follow Moderate Carb levels above.
- If your BMI is 26 or higher, decide if you choose Very Low Carb or Low Carb. Most of you should choose Low Carb. Decide based on your activity level. If you are sedentary, carbs should be lower. If you are highly active, carbs should be higher on this scale.
- Download an app for looking up net carbs or tracking yours. Carb Manager works well.
4. Use this chart for examples of 15 gram healthy whole food carb amounts
These are healthy, whole food carbs compiled into a downloadable PDF. For processed or refined carbs, just read the label. Remember to subtract fiber to get your net carb amount!
DOWNLOAD 15 Gram Net Carbs in Whole Foods
5. Graduate to eyeballing
Once you’ve used these calculators, charts, and lists…. you are good to go! Eyeball and estimate. Spread your carb intake throughout the day. One way to do it is divide your total carb amount between your meals and snacks. Some women prefer more carbs at dinner because they can help with sleep. Along the same lines, it can help to have fewer carbs, and more protein and fat, with breakfast to set your blood sugar and insulin regulation for the day.
i welcome your comments and questions below!