Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients required by the body. They provide the body with energy but their role in the body extends beyond providing fuel. Carbohydrates can be classified based on their chemical structure into three categories: sugars, starches, and fibers.

Function of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates serve as the primary source of energy for the body. Carbohydrate consumption helps regulate blood sugar levels by providing a steady supply of glucose, which is essential for maintaining proper brain and body function. Consuming complex carbohydrates, which are broken down more slowly, can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent energy crashes. Excess glucose can be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, a readily accessible energy source during periods of increased energy demand or low glucose availability, such as during exercise or fasting.

Carbohydrate consumption triggers the release of insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels by promoting the uptake and storage of glucose in cells. Insulin also plays a role in regulating fat metabolism and promoting protein synthesis. When too many carbohydrates are consumed then this system will become overloaded, eventually resulting in poor blood sugar regulation and poor health.

Complex carbohydrates, particularly dietary fiber, play a role in maintaining proper gastrointestinal function. Soluble fiber can help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.

Sources of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Not all carbohydrates are created equal, and the quality of carbohydrates can vary greatly.

Simple Carbohydrate

These are also known as simple sugars. They have a basic molecular structure composed of one or two sugars. They are found in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products, as well as in processed and refined sugars like candy, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks. Simple carbohydrates can be further classified into monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose, and galactose) which have one sugar molecule, and disaccharides (such as sucrose, lactose, and maltose) which have two sugar molecules. These carbohydrates are absorbed quickly by the body, leading to a rapid spike in energy followed by a crash.

Complex Carbohydrate

These have a more complex molecular structure, made up of three or more sugar molecules linked together. Because of their complexity, it takes longer for the body to break down these types of carbohydrates, which leads to a more gradual release of energy. Foods high in complex carbohydrates include whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables. They are also high in fiber, making them more filling and beneficial for digestion, blood sugar management, and overall health. Optimal fiber intake is 25g daily for females and 30g daily for males.

How Much Carbohydrates?

The recommended daily intake of carbohydrates varies depending on age, gender, and activity level. However, the type of carbohydrate and the amount consumed also matter. Consuming too many high-quality carbohydrates can also lead to weight gain, just as consuming too many low-quality carbohydrates can contribute to obesity and other health problems.

Most individuals have an carbohydrate intake range from 33-65% of diet depending on level of activity spent throughout the day. A more active day would result in consumption of more carbohydrates and a sedentary day would mean less carbohydrates. If not counting calories, the general rule of thumb is that these foods take up about 1/3 of your plate.

Calculate Recommended Intake

Before starting your calculations I would just like to share that there are several free calculators via the internet. No Math required! This next section is for those of you interested in the math and how to calculate it.

Carbohydrate intake

  • This example is based off a 2000 calorie diet (base yours off your weight goals) (see below “weight calculation”)
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • Choose your carbohydrate intake range: 40%
  • Active day: 2000 x 40% = 800 calories
  • To figure out how many grams daily:
  • take total calories from carbohydrates and divide that number by 4 (number of calories per gram of carbohydrate).
  • 800/4= 200g carbohydrates daily

Weight Calculation

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) Equation

The BMR equation estimates the number of calories the body burns at rest to maintain essential functions, such as breathing and circulation. The Harris-Benedict equation is a common BMR equation that takes into account an individual’s gender, age, weight, and height. In both equations, weight is in kilograms (1kg = 2.2lbs), height is in centimeters, and age is in years.

  • For men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
  • For women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

Once the BMR is calculated, the TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) can be estimated by multiplying the BMR by an activity factor

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

TDEE takes into account an individual’s activity level in addition to their BMR. This estimate is more accurate than BMR alone as it factors in the additional calories burned through physical activity. The TDEE can be calculated by multiplying the BMR by an activity factor based on one’s level of physical activity.

TDEE = BMR x Activity Factor

The Activity Factor takes into account an individual’s level of physical activity and ranges from 1.2 (sedentary) to 2.5 (very active). The Activity Factor can be determined based on the following:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): Activity Factor = 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week): Activity Factor = 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week): Activity Factor = 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week): Activity Factor = 1.725
  • Extremely active (very hard exercise or sports, physical job, training twice a day): Activity Factor = 1.9

Once the BMR and Activity Factor are determined, the TDEE can be calculated by multiplying the two values. The resulting number represents the estimated number of calories an individual burns per day, including their BMR and physical activity.

Best Sources of Carbohydrates

Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These foods should form the majority of the 1/3rd of carbohydrate on your plate. Legumes are best avoided because they contain the anti-nutrient phytic acid.  It essentially prevents the absorption of certain minerals from the diet. Don’t worry about memorizing these foods, we will include a comprehensive food list.


2-3 servings daily. One serving is equal to ½ cup or one medium sized piece of fruit like an apple

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Pears
  • Melons
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Oranges
  • Plum
  • Apples
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Grapes
  • Mango


Any and all vegetables are approved.

Low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, are the most popular options. Focus on about 5-6 servings daily, depending on your caloric intake. 1 serving of bulk vegetables is ½ cup. 1 serving of leafy vegetable is 1 cup

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are nutrient-dense foods that are high in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and micronutrients, such as vitamin E and magnesium. It is recommended to choose unsalted and raw varieties of nuts and seeds to avoid excessive sodium and added oils.

  • Hazelnuts
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecan Nuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Pine Nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

The appropriate serving size for nuts and seeds can vary depending on the specific type of nut or seed and an individual’s dietary needs and preferences. However, in general, a serving size of nuts and seeds is considered to be about 1 ounce or 28 grams, which is roughly equivalent to:

  • 24 almonds
  • 18 cashews
  • 12 hazelnuts
  • 14 walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds


Legumes are the fruit or seeds of leguminous plants, which includes beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts. They are usually excluded from an Anti-inflammatory diet. One of the most common questions I get is “I thoughts Legumes were healthy, why can’t we eat them?”. In moderation and cooked properly, they are most likely fine as they are a rich source of plant based protein. This diet tends to focus more on the consumption of animal based proteins. I usually leave this up to the individual if they wish to avoid or include legumes. We will discuss legumes and other anti-nutrients on the page tiltled “Anti-Nutrients”.