How many carbs you should eat per day is one the most widely argued topics in health and fitness. Do you choose a one-size-fits-all approach like keto? Do you simply try to moderate your carb intake? Should you track your macros religiously? Let me give you some news – none of that is necessary.
People are asking me all the time, “Kevin, what do you think about low carb dieting? What do you think about a high carb approach? What about balance? Isn’t it best to just take a moderate approach to this kind of stuff?”
Before we talk about adequate and optimal carbohydrate intake, make sure you understand the truth about carbohydrates. There’s so much dogma floating around and it’s easy to get tripped up by it.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that these things have to be individualized. There’s no one-size-fits-all.
Lastly, carbohydrates need to come from safe sources. So if you’re eating a bunch of bread and pasta and all this other nonsense, I’m not talking to you. You’re not doing anything that’s oriented toward health, so I don’t know why you’re asking the question.
Just a little tough love there.
When I talk about safe sources of carbohydrates I’m talking vegetables, fruits, berries, and even starches like rice and potatoes. I’m not talking about breads and pastas and cereal grains.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about my approach to carbohydrate intake. I think this is a really intuitive approach and it requires absolutely no macronutrient tracking or counting, or any other obsessive capital-D Dieting strategies.
What I advise people to do – and the plan that I follow myself – is very simple. I match carbohydrate intake to my activity levels. And this changes, so you can’t possibly be a low carb person or a high carb person in my eyes. You carbohydrate intake should be dynamic.
Last week, I was extremely active. I was swimming. I was biking. I was doing sandbag training. I was doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes. That creates a physiological demand for more carbohydrates. So last week I was eating higher carbohydrate.
If you’re an athlete and you are banking on being a high performer, you definitely have a higher physiological demand for carbohydrates. Therefore, you should probably eat a higher carbohydrate diet (assuming you’re staying active in that context).
Let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. If you are working in a cubicle all day, pretty much every day, there’s not a lot of activity going on. You don’t have a physiological demand for carbohydrates. So a lower carbohydrate protocol would work well for you.
Keep in mind that this all can change in the blink of an eye. Just because you’re following a low carbohydrate protocol this week doesn’t mean that next week you can’t be high carbohydrate.
Perhaps you start training for a triathlon next week because you just signed up for one. Last week, all you were doing was walking and desk jockeying. Guess what? Your carbohydrate requirements just changed!
So this is the flexible and dynamic approach that I take. You look at your activity levels. You match your carbohydrate intake to those activity levels. That’s it. You live your life. You have fun. You enjoy your happiness. There’s no tracking, no counting, no micro-managing. All that nonsense is out of your life.
That’s my approach. If you have questions or need more guidance and support, come work with us in the Rebooted Body Academy. Stop binge-reading articles and come change your life.
Founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. Kevin helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.