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Carbohydrate Facts

What is Carbohydrate?

Carbohydrate is made in plants from the light energy of the sun. All carbohydrates come from plants, except for milk, which is the only animal-source of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates appear in food as sugar - both naturally occurring and added during processing - and as starch and dietary fiber.

Carbohydrate requirements

The RDA for carbohydrates is set at 130 gm per day. That is the minimum amount of glucose (the breakdown product of carbohydrate) needed by the brain. Carbohydrate intake is typically higher to meet calorie needs. In a healthy diet, the acceptable range for carbohydrates is set at 45 to 65% of total calories. Carbohydrate from of sugar added to processed foods should not exceed 10% of total calories. Carbohydrate in the form of dietary fiber should measure at least 25 grams a day.

What happens when Carbohydrate intake is too high?

In terms of posing a risk of adverse health effects, there is no tolerable upper intake level (UL) for carbohydrates. Carbohydrates from whole grains, beans and legumes, vegetables, fruit, and milk contribute necessary nutrients, such as B vitamins and minerals, whereas carbohydrates from “added sugar” provide “empty calories” unaccompanied by nutrients. Excess calories from carbohydrate are stored as fat, which contributes to obesity and its risks, including diabetes, heart disease and other potential health problems.

What happens when Carbohydrate intake is too low?

Low carbohydrate diets are usually high in protein and fat, but the human body is not too fussy about the ratio of fuel-producing nutrients as long as vitamins and minerals are adequate. But when dietary carbohydrates (and total calories) are very low, fat is broken down to provide energy. That results in the accumulation of ketones, a byproduct of fat breakdown, in the bloodstream. Ketones may produce headache, dry mouth, bad breath, and a reduce appetite. A low carbohydrate diet is also usually low in fiber, which can adversely affect digestion and the regulation of glucose and blood lipid. A low carbohydrate may lack the vitamins and minerals found in high carbohydrate foods.

List of foods high in Carbohydrate

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