“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”
George S. Patton


How Many Grams of Carbs?

Maybe there’s a certain “carb” vibe in the air as of late?  I don’t know, but I have been asked more times than normal over the past couple weeks what my daily carb intake is – even from people who have a tough time distinguishing exactly what a carbohydrate looks like in the wild.  Since I absolutely abhor the thought of weighing and measuring my eats in any form or fashion, my usual answer to this question in the past has been the simple “I dunno…minimal?“.  However, having now tracked my carb intake over the last couple of weeks (which happened to be run-of-the-mill weeks for me – nothing out-of-the-ordinary, food wise – I can now say that I never ventured north of approximately 50 grams of carbs in a day,with most day’s intake falling in the 20 -30 gram range.  This all is a rough estimate, of course; what exactly is a “standard” carrot?  A “medium” apple?

This may sound outlandish to some at fist blush, but look for a moment at what I eat – or rather, the carbohydrate sources that I don’t eat.  No bread, no grains of any kind (I will swill a beer now and again, however), no pasta, rice, legumes or soy.  And of course, nothing processed and absolutely no sugar, HFCS, or any crap that even resembles such.  I eat very, very little fruit.  The vast majority of my carbohydrate intake is vegetable based, and that leans heavily toward leafy greens.  I do have some root vegetables now and again (carrots, parsnips, etc.) and/or a small sweet potato.  I also take in carbs from the raw, unpasteurized milk I drink on occasion.

What fasting has taught me is this: when I’m truly hungry, what I crave is fat and protein; fat especially.  I think there is most definitely a lesson to be learned in that.

In health,
Keith

17 COMMENTS

  1. Now that I’ve quit dieting and started training more, I’m finding that it’s easier for me to eat less.

    The reason…. Not because I’ve lost appetite, but because I’m now wanting to put only the purest most nutrient dense sources of energy into my mouth. My focus is aiding recovery and reducing inflammation (which is a huge problem for me), and almost nothing else. Lately I’ve been looking at nuts and nut butter and thinking “Omega-6 bad.” The are now a rare treat instead of a staple.

    My menu looks very similar to yours above, but I’m doing next to zero fruit, because I still have some fat to lose. Dairy is almost all my carbs. I generally only do fermented dairy but I consume so much, that it probably ends up being close the same amount of carbs normal consumption would have.

    • Solid blog, Keith. Been following for a long time now.

      I think once someone adheres to a low carb diet for a long enough duration to chronically control insulin, ghrelin isn’t as much of a factor in hunger, and the satiety index of fat and protein make it easier to go longer without feedings.

      My 2 cents, in my experience.

  2. Dear Keith,

    Please could you explain to me why we all crave fat and protein first before carbs on a low carb diet long term; it is interesting, why would this be. And, what exactly IS fermented cream?’ is it just what the French here call creme fraiche ; ie acidule

    Thank you

    • I would only be speculating if I tried to piece together the enzymatic/hormonal cascade responsible for this craving; in my mind it simply boils down to your body’s own innate intelligence, asking for what will properly (and most healthfully) sustain it. It is interesting to note as well that this phenomena is reinforced over time, the longer one sustains a clean Paleo diet. My guess is that it’s just the flip-side of the “carb jones” – in other words, the body now has an abundance of fat/protein digestion enzymes and a deficit of of carb/glusose/sugar “conversion machinery”.

      Yes, or “sour cream” here in the US.

  3. When you say 20-30g carbohydrates are you subtracting dietary fiber? Would something like a couple of cups of broccoli be ~10g or more like 5g since about half of those carbs are from fiber?

  4. What I have found in my personal experience is that I don’t need to avoid carbs so much as I absolutely must totally and completely eliminate gluten. So I enjoy root veggies, fruit, and even brown rice. But anything containing gluten (mostly found in grain based products) is forever on my ‘give it a miss’ list.

  5. Its amazing how the sensation of hunger goes away after a couple weeks after dropping carb intake under 50g a day.

    I have a quick question about fasting…I have it scheduled to do my workout today, and I’ve always been working out in a fasted state for the past few weeks. I usually do my work out in the morning or after work, after a 14-17 hour fast. But today, I’m at 25th hour of fasting, and haven’t done my workout. I’m not tired or hungry, just for whatever reason have not been able to get myself to go do my workout which would just take 20-30 minutes.

    So my question is, can you be fasting for TOO long before a workout? I’m going to go do it now, and its going to be heavy lifting(for my capabilities), but for future reference, do you ever do your workouts after such a long fast? I just think my performance won’t be as good as if I had done it after just 14-17 hours, I’m assuming theres no other cons about it.

    My main goal is weight loss at the moment, and maintaining/developing my strength.

    • Everything that I’ve studied indicates that all the positive benefits to be had IF’ing are realized by about hour 17. After this point, the hepatic glycogen stores are pretty much depleted, and we start dipping into the body’s protein (muscle) stores via gluconeogenesis to provide glucose to the brain. In reality, this is probably of negligible concern unless one is a competitive athlete, and I routinely workout at 17+ hours fasted with no ill (that I can tell anyway) effects. It doesn’t even seem to affect my recovery ability. In short, I don’t worry much about it. In fact, it’s probably a “healthy” thing to do every now and again. My gut feeling is that intermittent and acute doses of autophagy is a good thing for the overall health and resilience of an organism.

  6. Hey Keith: Great post. Do you give any thought to your combinations of food at any particular meal – specifically protein & carbs?

    I’ve been Zoning (without weighing or measuring) since 1992 but have moved more toward Paleo over the last few months.

    I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something “wrong” if I don’t have any veggies with, say, a steak. Or if I have a plate of chopped veggies with no protein.

    I remember Robb Wolf saying that as long as you get plenty of veggies in at some point every day, you’re fine. Any thoughts?

    • High-quality fat and protein intake are my overriding concerns at each meal. If I can work in some veggies or a smattering of fruit, so much the better. I think the veggie/lean meat thing is probably a hold-over from the old, fat-phobic days. Once you allow yourself to embrace good fats (and in abundance), the issue of worrying about “diet” very quickly becomes a non-issue.

      • Great. Thanks. So you don’t have any specific pre-workout, balanced meal?

        I’ve been so conditioned over the last 18 years that you have to have a small meal with good protein, good carbs and good fats about 30 mins. before a workout to set yourself up hormonally. I guess you’d say that isn’t the case.

  7. YAY!
    Protien Power (which is all about insulin response and how your body accesses food for energy) starts off with a 30g of carbs MAX per day phase to wean you off and remind your metabolism that there are other fuels besides sugar. You should stay on it for 4 weeks or as long as you need to in order to loose the weight. Then you add the carbs back SLOWLY until about 50-80g per day. Less if you see the weight gain come back.

    Fiber is a Polysaccharide. It still triggers an insulin response. So the Drs Eades say there’s no such thing as “net carbs” because ALL carbs cause insulin response.

    I think more importantly, veggies give us vitamins and minerals that we need that aren’t normally in meats. If you’re taking a supplement then you’re probably covered if you’re low on the veggie munchin.

    I’m on week 3 – have dropped 13lbs. Most is water, but I am eating less because like you say – the satiated feeling happens faster and lasts longer. A diet pill in steak and egg form! Whoot!

    Keith – what about the NUTS! They have the carbs, but were part of a paleo diet, no?

    And just like the innernets told me, I would see some other changes as well… Namely, I have HORRIBLE acid reflux – I have been scoped and diagnosed with a hiatal hernia that was causing the reflux. This last year I was taking LOTS of zantac-pepcid-tagament (prilosec types cause digestive unhappiness)EVERY DAY. After a week on low carb, I have nada. Zilch. And I’m still eating some spicy foods. (jalepenos!)

    I happened to have a peice of pizza on the ski slopes this weekend – and ate the crust. I had heartburn by the time I got in the car to leave.

    Anyway, I’m on the bus, drinking the kool-aid. I feel better too.
    That’s all. 🙂

    • Welcome aboard the psychedelic bus, Suzi 🙂 Nothing sells the lifestyle better than taking out for a spin.

      Re: nuts – Raw, preferably, though in moderation (no peanuts; bad legumes, remember?) due to the lopsided omega 6/omega 3 profile. Walnuts and macadamias are a better choice due to better omega profile. Still, nuts impart a hellova calorie whompas – so watch that, especially as you near your target weight. Of course “a calorie is not a calorie”, but as you near a lower bodyfat level, total calorie intake will begin to matter.

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