Our daily carbohydrate intake is essential as they are the main fuel for all muscular movement. For an average person, the diet should provide a large proportion of energy from this nutrient. If you exercise frequently, your carbohydrate intake should be even higher. A good carbohydrate intake enables muscles to work harder throughout a workout, helping to burn more calories and maintain weight.
Servings of high carbohydrate foods
- 6 servings of grain & cereal foods such as bread, pasta, rice (preferably wholegrain, high fiber types)
- 3 or 4 servings of vegetables
- 2 servings of fruit
A diet with a low carbohydrate intake can make exercise feel tough, especially if the exercise is anaerobic. If exercise becomes tough the result can be a decreased desire to repeat any workout again, reduced workouts equals reduced fitness results.
The diet should provide a carbohydrate intake of up to 60% of total daily energy. A large percentage should be in the form of complex carbohydrates from natural low calorie sources like grains, cereals and vegetables.
Some people struggling to lose weight may benefit from a low carbohydrate intake, however although a low carbohydrate diet can help lose some initial weight fast, we feel this diet promotes laziness. Plus, much of the initial loss will probably be made up of fluid loss from muscle cells.
Sources of carbohydrates
Many processed foods high in carbohydrates also tend to have a high fat and calorie content, so these should be limited when trying to lose weight. For example, potatoes are low in calories and a great source of complex carbohydrate, however potatoes are also the main ingredient in hash browns from McDonalds, yet “weight for weight” they contain more fat and calories than a cheeseburger or Big Mac!
When planning your carbohydrate intake, you should try to consume fresh natural foods and ingredients. Check labels on processed foods for their fat and calorie content. As a rule of thumb if the product has more than 15 grams of fat in 100 grams of product then it should be limited or a much smaller portion consumed.