How Many Carbs Should You Eat for Weight Loss?

Many of our clients come to us after having tried numerous weight loss diets, including a low-carb diet, which tends to get them results, but only temporarily. They ask us, “how many carbs should you eat daily for permanent weight loss?” While the exact amount of carbs does vary per individual, one thing is very clear– and we see it over and over in our clients who achieve long-lasting weight loss. For weight loss, at least one (and usually more) meals should contain SOME wholesome carbs but not too many. We’re sharing why you need some wholesome carbs, how much is too much (when it comes to carbs) & which carbs are best for weight loss.

Watch the video or read below.

First, let’s address the elephant in our carb- eating zone…low-carb diet success. Let’s face it, it does happen and the results can be encouraging. While there is no formal definition for low-carb eating for weight loss, people generally reduce their daily carb intake to around 20-50 grams per day. (For reference, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if you’re eating a 2,000 calories diet, the Daily Value (DV) for carbs is 300 grams per day(2).

To eat 20-50 grams of carbs per day, you can eat low carb veggies, possibly some berries, but no starches. Yes, adios grains, most fruits, potatoes, beans, etc. And if you’re being super careful, you really have to count the non-starchy veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms, etc.) which can add up quickly if you eat veggies in the quantities we do—and that our weight loss clients do! In fact, we’d meet our carb quota with veggies alone, and we’d still probably want more veggies. 🙂  Not to mention other wholesome carbs!

The veggies in this meal practically hit your daily carb quota if you’re following a “low-carb” eating plan.

While you may lose more weight by not eating carbs, especially initially, and research has shown that low carb diets like these can be part of an effective weight loss strategy, most people find that avoiding carbs is not enjoyable and that trying to live a normal life and going out to eat or socializing makes the diet unsustainable. We get it—and couldn’t imagine life without a bowl of cherries! 😉

However, we have to give credit where credit’s due—we’ve known a small handful of low-carb eaters (less than 50 grams daily!) who’ve had long-term success.  And they’ve done it healthfully, not just living on bacon and cheese. Here’s looking at you, Raheel!  He eats wholesome foods– mostly salmon, eggs, avocado, olive oil, a little ghee, lots of leafy greens and hardly any fruit (with the exception of an occasional small portion of berries)—or other carbs.  He is one of a handful of people we know who find the diet easy and natural. –And he’s not constipated like we most people are when they cut out a lot of the high-fiber carbs!

For Raheel, at this restaurant meal, he’d skip the potatoes. The small potato is about 15 grams of carbohydrates, so if you’re on a low-carb diet (less than 50 grams of carbs per day), you’d have to count every morsel of carbs (veggies included) you put in your mouth to stick to less than 50 grams.

Are there benefits to eating 50 grams or less of carbs daily?

If you’re someone that enjoys cutting carbs, and can easily eat 50 grams of carbs or fewer and it’s sustainable for you, more power to you!  While this isn’t for us personally, or for most of our clients, studies show that restricting your intake of carbohydrates—including starches like bread and pasta (as well as sugars) — and substituting them with protein, healthy fats, and vegetables, can lessen appetite, and result in eating fewer calories and can help weight loss to be more effortless compared to other diets.  Plus, low-carb diets can help to lower blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides—and raise HDL (good) cholesterol—particularly if sugary, refined doughy carbs are replaced with lean protein, healthy fat and veggies. But really, is it any surprise that you’d be healthier if you swap cookies for wholesome foods?

WHAT GOOD ARE THESE BENEFITS, IF YOU CAN’T STICK TO A LOW-CARB DIET IN THE FIRST PLACE?! 🙋‍♀️

If eating less than 50 grams of carbs each day is too little for you, as it is for us and for the majority of our weight loss clients– READ ON to find how many carbs you can and should eat for weight loss.

For most people, low-carb diets are a fling. And usually shorter than a summer one. Our clients have told us in the past when they tried a low-carb diet, eating mostly veggies and lean proteins and some healthy fat, they felt light and great.  But ultimately, they end up feeling deprived and want to eat a slice of pizza or a slice of bread.  So they “give in” and eat a food with carbs, only to feel defeated, like they blew it– and they throw in the towel in on low-carb living. They quickly gain back the weight they lost. UGH! That’s no fun!

A low-carb diet isn’t meant for them as it’s not realistic for their lifestyle—and that’s NOT their fault! Ultimately, they know they want to include some carbs in their diet. They struggle to balance eating some healthy carbs while losing weight; and that’s where we come in.  We help them to enjoy carbohydrates without overdoing it. They feel satisfied and get just enough carbs to reap their health-promoting benefits, prevent cravings and they don’t feel heavy afterwards.

The key to achieving permanent weight loss…

For our clients eating a specific portion of wholesome carbs, (not doughy, refined or sugary ones) at every meal (and occasionally eating a less healthy carb) is a huge piece of their weight loss success.

If this excites you to know registered dietitians are telling you that you can eat carbs– and that they can be an extremely important piece of your permanent weight loss, great!

If even the thought of eating carbs makes you gain weight and is making you nervous, don’t worry; that’s why we’re here. We’re going to help you!  As you read on, you’ll understand why now is your time to enjoy eating some wholesome carbs while losing weight for good!

If you’ve gained weight when you’ve eaten carbs in the past, it’s not your fault, you just didn’t know how to eat them for sustained weight loss.

There’s a secret to eating carbs that no one tells you—and it’s unfortunate.

Here’s the secret…

Eat ½ cup of wholesome carbs at every meal.

If you like to count grams, this is about 15-30 grams of carbs per meal, depending on your individual weight loss needs.* This doesn’t include non-starchy veggies—eat as many of them as you’d like.

The truth is that one-half cup of wholesome carbohydrates gives your brain fuel, so you don’t crave a quick fuel source like sugar. That’s right, having wholesome carbs that contain fiber actually stave off carb cravings.  Consuming wholesome carbs will prevent you from feeling deprived and physically craving them. And you’ll feel light and satisfied after you eat them. In the meantime, you’ll know you can have some at each meal and that alone gets rid of deprivation.

Plus, you need one half cup of wholesome carbohydrate at each meal for nutrients, fiber and to keep you feeling satisfied. And while this may seem like a small amount, when you are also eating a satisfying portion of protein, tasty veggies and healthy fats, the wholesome carbohydrates are the perfect accompaniment to give you a satisfying boost without weighing you down.

What’s more, you’ll reap the benefits of consuming high-fiber carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, pulses, and whole grains2), including improved metabolic health and a lower risk of disease.

There are 3 simple secrets to know when it comes to eating your carbs and achieving weight loss.

  • Eat one-half cup at each meal. This portion is king. (More will make you feel heavy and gain weight while skipping them will leave you craving simple, dough and sugary carbs)*
  • Be sure you’re choosing wholesome carbs* and not refined, doughy carbs. Doughy carbs spike your blood sugar and cause cravings and weight gain.
  • Make sure you’re not loading on fatty condiments. For example, if you’re having a small whole-grain waffle, don’t slather butter on it, or if you’re having a small baked potato, don’t pile on the sour cream—it will add far more calories than the carb itself and it can really add up.

For wholesome carbs, we’re talking whole grain carbs like oats, quinoa and pulses, sweet potatoes, veggies, fruit, etc. These are unprocessed and contain the fiber found naturally in the food, while refined carbs have been processed and had the natural fiber stripped out.

  • While individual needs vary, this ½ cup serving at every meal seems to be the magic number for most women (and a bit more than this for men) it’s a great starting point. Some of our clients who are more active or who are larger are able to achieve permanent weight loss find themselves able to lose and/or maintain a weight loss while eating ¾ cups wholesome at some, if not most meals. Many professional athletes are a complete exception to the ½ cup carb portion.

Summary: To lose weight permanently, eat one half cup of wholesome carbs at every meal. (Individual needs vary but roughly 15-30 grams of carbs/meal).  Whole grain carbs like oats, as well as quinoa, pulses, sweet potatoes, fruit, veggies, etc. are your ticket.  Not doughy, refined carbs and not, slathered in fatty condiments. Eat all the non-starchy veggies that you’d like!

What does one-half cup of carbs (roughly 15-30 grams) per meal look like?

Take a look at a day in the eating life of a few of our client’s. Most have lost over 50 pounds and has kept it off for over several years. The example of the full day that you see below is one of these clients who eats ½ cup (15-30 grams of carbs) at every meal. Rain or Shine. Like our other clients, if she leaves out the wholesome carbs it backfires and she’ll get cravings later in the day.

Breakfast: Tofu Scramble with yellow pepper & spinach, 6-inch whole wheat tortilla (16 grams carbs)

Lunch: Pasta salad (1/2 cup whole wheat pasta, 21 grams carbs) with grilled chicken and broccoli

Snack: 5-ounce nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup blueberries

Dinner: ½ whole wheat pita bread (17 grams carb) opened- face pizza, nonfat mozzarella, feta, spinach & tomatoes and broccoli

Dessert: ½ cup Halo top, half peach, ¼ cup raspberries

This is a snack that many of our weight loss clients who’ve maintained their weight loss eats often.

To help our clients eat “pasta” with fewer carbs, we’ve used our noodle to come up with a few ideas! 🙂

Try this recipe:

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce and Parmesan Cheese (16 grams carbs)

Zucchini Linguini (6 grams carbs)

Or the real pasta deal- Spicy Tomato and Creamy Spinach Pasta (30 grams carbs)

To get our FREE Guide To Get The Body You Want Even While Eating Pasta click here!

Feeling full and satisfied throughout the day while controlling portions is one way our clients are able to hit their weight loss goals, without depriving themselves or relying on willpower. Wanna find out 3 more secrets to weight loss without willpower? Stay tuned to grab our free guide!


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