How Much of Each Simple Carb, Starches & Other Carbs Are You to Get?

How Much of Each Simple Carb, Starches & Other Carbs Are You to Get?

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Almost any type of food you eat has carbohydrates.

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Some carbohydrates digest fully in your gut and turn into glucose, providing calories for energy. These types of carbs, which are simple carbohydrate sugars and complex carbohydrate starches, should make up the largest percentage of the calories in your diet. One specific type of nondigestible carbohydrate, fiber, doesn't break down in your gut and doesn't add calories to your diet. Because of this, fiber's recommendation is separate from other types of carbohydrates.

Total Carbohydrate Intake

Starches and sugars don't have distinct recommendations; rather, they both fall into one big carbohydrate category. Between 45 and 65 percent of the overall calories in your diet should come from these types of carbohydrates, as recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Both simple and complex carbs -- with the exception of fiber -- offer 4 calories in each gram.

Doing the Math

If you multiply your typical caloric intake by 45 percent and then by 65 percent, you'll get the range of calories you should get from carbohydrates. For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, as an example, you can have anywhere from 900 to 1,300 calories from carbs. This amounts to 225 to 325 grams of carbs. Ideally all of your carbs should come from natural foods -- dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and legumes -- rather than processed foods.

The Sugar Consideration

Because added sugar doesn't do much to benefit your body, other than providing calories from glucose, the American Heart Association has an established sugar limitation. The AHA suggests that men should get no more than 9 teaspoons, which is roughly 38 grams or 150 calories, from added sugar each day. As a woman, you shouldn't have more than 6 teaspoons -- 25 grams -- or 100 calories from added sugar. This sugar should be included in your overall carb grams for the day.

Fiber Recommendation

Fiber is highly important for digestion, nutrient absorption and moving waste through the digestive tract. For every 1,000 calories you get from foods, you need 14 grams of fiber, states the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. A 2,000-calorie daily diet, for example, requires you to get 28 grams of total fiber. You don't have to worry about subtracting these grams of fiber from your overall carb allowance since fiber has its own separate recommendation.

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