Carb Calculator

carbs calculator

The Carbs Calculator recommends the amount of carbohydrates to eat per day. Based on training intensity, a recommendation is given for how many grams of carbs a person should eat in total throughout the day.

What is a Carb?

Carbohydrates (carbs) are your body’s primary source of energy. Carbs are one of three macronutrients your body needs. The other two macronutrients are protein and fat. Your body converts carbs into glucose for energy. It stores carbs as glycogen. You can increase the amount of glycogen your musculoskeletal system stores through endurance training. Your liver also stores around 100of glycogen. 

What are Complex Carbs?

Complex carbs are foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They contain vital nutrients and minerals. Complex carbs take your body longer to digest. Most starches are complex carbs (e.g., beans and legumes). 

In other words, complex carbs don’t cause blood sugar spikes, which is essential not just for people with diabetes but athletes and everyone else! 

Examples of complex carb foods are:

  • 100g brown rice, 23g carbs
  • 1 large potato, 45g carbs
  • 100g oats, 66g carbs

What are Simple Carbs?

Simple carbs are a type of sugar. Your body rapidly processes simple carbs. Simple carbs have the effect of spiking your blood sugar. This is the all-to-familiar sugar crash after eating things candy or drinking soda. At first, you feel like you can conquer the world! But then you feel like you can’t get off the sofa. Get the lowdown on sweeteners!

If you think you should avoid simple carbs at all costs, you may or may not be right! Consuming too many simple carbs can lead to hyperglycemia and eventually diabetes. However, simple carbs are an essential source of fuel for athletes with high-energy outputs. When your body runs out of carbs, it breaks down fat for energy. Your body is not as efficient at breaking down fat as it is carbs, which is what leads to the dreaded “bonk.” 

Consuming simple carbs is a great way to fuel long endurance activities like running or cycling but should be avoided in other parts of daily life.

Examples of simple carbs are: 

  • 100g sugar, 100g carbs
  • 100g maple syrup, 67g carbs
  • 100g honey, 82g carbs

How do You Calculate Carbs?

Check the nutrition facts on food labels. Find the carbohydrate section. You will usually see three numbers given.

  • Total carbohydrates mean the total amount of carbohydrates in one serving.
  • Dietary fiber means how many of those carbohydrates your body cannot process since they are insoluble fibers. Learn about the importance of fiber for athletes. You can subtract these from the total carb calculation if you are counting carbs.
  • The sugars field indicates how many of the total carbs in a serving come from sugar. Learn about sugar-free diets.

Log all of the carbs you consume in a day to get your total daily carbohydrate intake. Subtract out the number of carbs that come from dietary fiber to calculate your net carbohydrate intake. 

How Many Carbs Should I Eat a Day to Lose Weight?

Decreasing carbs can play an important role in weight loss strategies. By reducing carbohydrate intake, people are likely decreasing the total amount of calories they are consuming overall. Additionally, carbs make us feel less “full” after consumption. Protein leaves greater feelings of satiety after a meal and contains fewer calories per gram than carbohydrates. 

The specific amount of carbs to eat per day to lose weight should be based on a healthy weight loss strategy. It also depends on your activity level. For example, if you already consume 300g of carbs per day but increase your amount of exercise by an hour each day, you have essentially cut the relative number of carbs (and therefore calories) you consume. This is because you are burning more energy but consuming the same number of carbs/calories as before. 

Another way to think about the number of carbs needed to lose weight per day is simply cutting out simple sugars during non-athletic activity. This has the knock-on health effect of potentially lowering your blood sugar and promoting healthy cholesterol. 

So, should you cut carbs to lose weight? Or should you focus on exercise and a healthy diet? The answer is that simply exercising more and focusing on a healthy diet will likely yield better, more sustainable results faster.

How Many Carbs a Day is Low Carb?

There is no official definition of what constitutes a “low carb” diet. 50g of carbs per day is about where “low carb” starts. However, this is highly dependent on your personal activity level. A cyclist can burn more than 100g of carbs per hour, for example. Not fueling for that effort will lead the cyclist to slow down so the body can break down fat for fuel.

It should also be noted that the human brain is a muscle that processes carbs to function. Eating too few carbs can lead to feeling “foggy” in the brain, or like you can’t think very fast. This is because your brain has not adapted to lower carb intake.

You may be thinking, isn’t it good to train the body to prioritize fat burning over carbs? After all, the human body has a limitless supply of fat and a very low capacity for carbohydrate storage. This is a complicated question and is highly variable from person to person; however, most people will not benefit from a low-carb diet that prioritizes fat consumption.

Learn about the nine best foods for runners!