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How many Carbs should we eat? (The conclusion!)

We all know “head knowledge” really only counts for so much and in comparison to personal experience, the “head knowledge” is worth very little.

In this final segment of my breakdown and analysis of carb consumption and the pros and cons of high carb eating versus low carb eating, I will talk about types of carbs. Ones that may suit specific goals, forms that are generally not going to provide you with optimal health and ones that could be added to your diet/lifestyle in order to BOOST health.

It is important to note I have not based these sequence of posts in one set direction. Neither “anti-carbs” or “unlimited carbs”.

I’m not a strict proponent of either! The key here is, I appreciate that all choices and methods in life are GOAL SPECIFIC!

It’s important to self-evaluate and determine your goals in order to employ a particular strategy or approach!

This rings especially true in the carb consumption discussion. Wherever you fall on the “how much” carb scale, it’s paramount you know and MEASURE accordingly.

This is the ABSOLUTE SIMPLISTIC outline of what we’ve learned so far:

  • Over 20% body fat (as a male) or 28% body fat (as a female) Carbs aren’t your “friend” and probably should be avoided until you are leaner and therefore can handle them better
  • Between 15 and 20% body fat as a male and 23 and 28% body fat as a female, moderated carb intake is ideal. Optimally, you would limit carbs if you’re in this range to “post-workout” only and in CONTROLLED, STRICT amounts
  • If you happen to be in the 10-15% body fat range as a male and 18-23% as a female, then you are better placed to tolerate a “considerable” volume of carbs. Maybe anywhere from 50-200 grams post workout! Again, we are taking advantage of your Insulin sensitivity in this range
  • For you lean and mean folks who happen to be between 5 and 10% as a male and 13 and 18% as a female, you guys have earned yourselves the right to eat MASSIVE amounts of carbs! The further away from the top-end of that scale you go, the more you can eat and still remain……”SHREDDED TO THE BONE!” If you are in this body composition range, your body works like a perfectly oiled machine and uses consumed Carbohydrates exactly as the human body should………for Glycogen restoration and for cell nutrient reception in addition to fuelling any possible workouts you may endeavour to do!
  • Few people (if any!) will ever truly be at a lower body fat percentile than those outlined above, but in the EXTREMELY RARE scenario you may find yourself “sub” 5% or 13% depending on gender, then you LITERALLY need to LIVE on carbs! You have practically zero fat to live off and use as fuel. Therefore carbs are your greatest ally!

That is a little generic picture comparison range to help put into perspective what we’ve just discussed

Of course picture comparison is a woefully inaccurate means of determining your true body fat percentage! A good set of Skin fold calipers are much more sound and accurate, and can be purchased online. Although I emphasise the fact that there are large variances in the quality of Skin fold calipers! You tend, generally to get what you pay for. A “Bod-pod” is another reasonably accurate means of testing your number. BMI is practically worthless as it doesn’t take into consideration an individuals muscle mass. Therefore our 300 lb bodybuilder will automatically be getting told he’s “obese” by the BMI chart. We all know that is nonsense and baloney!

Accurate body fat tracking is CRITICAL for weight-loss or any physique goals!

The scale goes up 3 lbs from last time, oh no! What’s happened here?! I’ve got fatter right? Hey, don’t be so hasty! How do we know for DEFINITE the gain is from fat? Just assumption? Usually. This is the frustrating situation I see too many people fall victim to. They start a given program or phase, particularly when their goal is fat loss, and they stick to the diet vividly, and don’t miss a workout. Yet, they jump on the scale fingers crossed, bursting with enthusiasm, hoping to see the number go down…………and NO CHANGE!

Their spirit is broken and they think they’ve wasted some precious hard weeks for no results

BUT, something they don’t consider whatsoever is the remote possibility that they’ve gained a pound or two of MUSCLE during the process!

Here lies the true power and magic of body fat tracking!

Ok, you gained 3 lbs. But let’s say you were tracking your body fat percentage with Calipers in unison with tracking bodyweight, lets also say you were 15% body fat 2 weeks ago and you’re still 15% body fat today. Where has those 3 lbs emerged from? We know one thing for SURE……it is NOT extra fat! What it is however, is new muscle tissue.

More muscle = higher metabolism, higher metabolism = more calories needed to exist and live!

Added muscle mass is a great assistance for anyone trying to improve their body composition. Simply by having more muscle present, you burn and use more calories at rest. In simple terms, a 150 lb man with 15% body fat will require NOWHERE near the amount of calories per day as a 300 lb, 6% bodybuilder! That’s if they both just lay on their backs all day long! This is without even considering the energy expenditure of these individuals.

ALWAYS track variables, particularly Body fat! It’s much easier to determine with precision whether or not you’re on the path to the set goal.

So as promised, let’s wrap the topic up with a personal experience on the whole body composition subject.

Throughout the summer of 2013 I got down to the enviable position of being 7% body fat. Let me tell you one thing……..I have NEVER eaten more carbs than I did back then! Well maybe before I got into nutrition and exercise and when I was 25% body fat plus, I could well have been eating more “garbage” carbs! But when I was sitting solidly at 7% body fat, I was eating carbs at every meal! It wasn’t uncommon for me to demolish 3 large bowls of Oats in the evening in addition to vast amounts of gluten free Cereal, Brown rice and  Sweet Potatoes throughout the day!

That’s some SERIOUS CARBS!

Yes, of course I was training seriously hard at the time. Looking back, I now know I was certainly “over-reaching” But, my point being, I sat at that body fat for a solid 3-6 months. Those astounding quantities of carbs I ate, did NOTHING as far as getting fatter! I had never been so shredded! Thus proving the point that a super lean body is primed for mass carb consumption. Give that diet to a obese person and they would end up diabetic in the drop of a hat and more than likely gain a sturdy amount of “spare tyre”

If I wasn’t such a detail orientated soul, I guess this article could be summed up in one, super easily digest-able sentence:


Be wise and stay on track.

Have a good one.


JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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