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Archive for the ‘Eat This/Not That’ Category

You Ask, I Answer: Carbohydrate Needs

In Eat This, Not That For Kids, there is a table titled “What Our Kids Need Each Day” that shows what amount of different nutrients children should be getting on a daily basis.

For carbohydrate, every age group (from 1 to 18 years) has the same carbohydrate requirement: 130 grams.

That seem fishy to me?

– Taryn (last name withheld)
Houston, TX

Uh oh. That figure is ripe for misinterpretation.

It would be much more accurate to express it as “at least 130 grams.”

Without those two important words, I can imagine many people thinking they are not supposed to feed their child more than that amount of carbohydrates each day.

The 130 gram figure is important because it is the minimum amount of carbohydrate needed each day to spare body proteins.

This means that by consuming 130 grams of carbohydrates (520 calories’ worth), you are ensuring that protein is used for building and maintaining muscle tissue, rather than for energy.

That figure is also calculated to be the amount necessary to support the production of red blood cells as well as keep the central nervous system working as efficiently as possible.

A much better recommendation is to get anywhere from 45 to 60 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates.

Readers, here is an example to help you figure out how many grams of carbohydrate you should be aiming for each day:

Let’s assume you need 2,200 calories a day.

Some simple multiplication lets us know that a range of 45 to 60 percent of that figure is equal to 990 – 1,320 calories.

To figure out how many grams of carbohydrates those calorie values equal, divide them by 4 (remember, there are 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrate.)

Therefore, someone consuming 2,200 calories a day should take in anywhere from 247 to 330 grams of carbohydrates a day.

PS: Taryn just completed her Dietetic Internship at the University of Houston. If you are interested in learning what future dietitians learn in their DIs, please visit her blog!


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