Written by Gina Wimmer, RDN, LD - Mayo Clinic registered dietitian
You do not need to give up carbohydrate to lose weight, however you should be mindful of portions of carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol as they all contribute to your daily caloric intake.
Carbohydrates are your body’s first source of energy. Two of the main organs in your body that prefer carbohydrates for their energy source are your brain and your nervous system. Carbohydrates provide your body with vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of dietary fiber. Carbohydrates along with protein and fat are the main macronutrients that provide your body with calories. If too many calories are consumed no matter what the food, these calories are stored as fat.
The American Dietary Guidelines suggests a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrate per day. This would be approximately 8-9 servings per day. The majority of Americans eat up to three times this amount daily.
So what is a serving of carbohydrate? When we think of foods with carbohydrate we often think of breads, cereal, rice and pasta. Ideally these foods are whole grains and a serving would be equal to a 1/3 to ½ of a cup or roughly the size of a hockey puck. Another source of carbohydrates is fruit, ideally whole and fresh with a serving being equal to a ½ cup or a tennis ball. Milk and yogurt also contain carbohydrate, ideally fat-free or low-fat without added sugar; servings from these would be equal to a carton of yogurt (5-6 ounces) or a cup of milk.
If you are interested in changing your diet for weight management, especially in regards to carbohydrate, think about finding addressing unhealthy sources such as sugar and sugar containing foods and beverages in your diet, as these provide carbohydrates without the health benefits of vitamins, minerals and fiber.