Carbohydrates: The Recommended Daily Allowance for a Healthy Diet

When it comes to a healthy dietary plan, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65% of your total daily calorie intake. This means that if you consume 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should come from carbohydrates, which is equivalent to 225 to 325 grams. This is considered a moderate carbohydrate intake and can be beneficial for those who are thin, active, and trying to maintain their weight. The American Diabetes Association guidelines indicate that there is no specific percentage of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for people with diabetes.

For some individuals, a low-carb diet can help them eat their fill and still lose weight. The recommended dietary fiber intake, which varies by age and gender from 21 to 38 g per day, may be difficult to achieve but small dietary changes can help. Unrefined carbohydrates that are high in dietary fiber have a low glycemic index (GI), while foods such as sugar, white bread, and other highly processed foods have a high GI. It is recommended to keep the intake of these substances as low as possible while following a nutritionally adequate diet.

Low-carb diets have been shown to cause greater weight loss and improve health compared to low-fat, calorie-restricted diets. Low-fat, high-carb diets can be harmful to people with a particular type of blood lipid profile, while high-fat diets can cause obesity and its complications. People with diabetes may be affected by the amount and type of carbohydrates they eat. The new dietary reference intakes recommend dietary fiber intake for the first time and include a broader definition of fiber.

Restricting carbohydrates for short periods isn't harmful for most people, but it is better to restrict the intake of refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, highly processed foods). As a reference point, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults without diabetes consume no more than 10% of their calories from added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends an even lower limit of no more than 6% of daily calories from added sugar.

Diets that severely restrict carbohydrates

for extended periods of time are not as beneficial as diets that are more balanced in macronutrients.

Complex carbohydrates are those that are least processed, digested more slowly and are high in dietary fiber. The glycemic index is a scientific theory about how the body digests and absorbs various carbohydrates (the glycemic load is the product of the glycemic index of the diet and of the total carbohydrates in the diet).