ADF Week-7 Update: Counting Carbs

You have no idea how happy I am to actually have some weight loss to report!

This is one of many posts concerning my weight loss experiment. If you’d like to read from the beginning, click here.

So as I mentioned last week, I incorporated some low-carb eating to help me break through my “set point.” It TOTALLY worked!

This was literally me after I stepped on the scale.

My fasting days were Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Tues – Wed – Thurs – Fri – Sat– Sun – Mon

Yes, that doesn’t quite look right. I needed a switch day because next week is Mother’s Day, and I’m not okay with fasting on Mother’s Day. I have plans to eat tacos and drink margaritas, and I won’t allow that to be ruined JUST because I’m dieting. I planned ahead, and I don’t feel the least bit of guilt over it.

Here’s what my week looked like:

WednesdayThursdaySaturdayMonday
Calories1,8631,9962,4372,048
Protein109g101g154g113g
Net Carbs54g30g238g39g
Fat120g145g99g136g

I didn’t eat as perfectly as I would’ve liked. I wanted to stay under 45g of carbs for my low-carb days. Monday was my first day following this, and I went a little over, but not too dramatically. Saturday was my weekly high-carb day, so hubby and I went for Chinese food. Other than that, I’m perfectly pleased with my numbers!

I started at 219 pounds, and my TDEE for this last week was 15,234 calories. I ate 8,344 total. That leaves me a deficit of 6,890 calories.

That means I should’ve lost 2 pounds.

6,890 ÷ 3,500 (1 lb) = 1.9865… basically 2.

How much did I lose though? 4! I’m at 215 pounds!

So as you can see above, I said “Net Carbs.” That is not the total amount of carbs I ate, that’s just the amount of carbs that I counted. Why? Let me break this down a little, because I had to do a little work to fully understand this myself.

Net carbs can also be called “impact carbs,” or “digestible carbs.”

You have two types of carbs, complex and simple. Simple carbs are things like fruits, vegetables, honey, sugar, etc. These things only have one or two sugar units linked together. Complex carbs are things like pasta, bread, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables. These have multiple sugar units linked together.

I’m full of sugar, but complex. Get it?

Your small intestine is going to break these sugars down into individual units, but some of it can’t be broken down fully. Fiber and sugar alcohols are the main ones. Since your body can’t break it down all the way, your body can’t use it. So it doesn’t count.

I took a picture of a “Quest” bar that I planned on eating this week, because they’re amazing! This is the nutrition label for a coconut cashew bar…

We’re going to pretend the answer isn’t at the top. We have 23g of total carbohydrates, but we have 15g of fiber. We also have 4g of Erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol. Erythritol is a special case because you can subtract ALL of it from your carbohydrate total. When it comes to the other sugar alcohols, you only subtract half. So if there were 8g of Maltitol in a food, you would only subtract 4g from your total carbohydrates. Here are some sugar alcohols you might run across:

  • Sorbitol
  • Maltitol
  • Xylitol
  • Mannitol
  • Lactitol
  • Isomalt
  • Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates

Basically, if you see anything that rhymes with “tall” in a Brooklyn accent, it could be a sugar alcohol, or at least a form of sugar. If I can offer any good advice for counting carbs, it’s to definitely read your nutrition labels with a Brooklyn accent.

“Mawltadextrin.” See? That’s processed like a sugar in your body.

I’m not a professional, by the way.

If you see Erythritol mixed with another sugar alcohol on a food label, just subtract half. You’re less likely to be wrong about how many carbs you consumed.

So let’s use our label up top.

23g total carbs – 15g fiber – 4g Erythritol = 4g “net” carbs

How many net carbs should you shoot for if you choose to do this?

First of all, let me point out how hilarious it is that the USDA put out a five year dietary guideline. Apparently, dietary science is only allowed to evolve every five years. They recommend that 45-65% of your daily calories come from carbs. Here’s a quote from this government-loving website:

“If 1,800 calories daily is your usual intake, for example, you can have 810 to 1,170 calories from carbohydrates, which is about 203 to 293 grams of carbohydrates.”

The USDA

That’s WAY too much for anyone who knows their science. If you are a professional athlete then by all means, eat that many carbs. Otherwise, you’re going to be way better off eating less. Whether you’re shooting for weight loss or not, you should definitely be eating less than 200g of carbs a day.

Mark Sisson wrote in his book, “The Primal Blueprint” (pg. 242):

“Eat in the 100-150 gram Maintenance Zone and you won’t gain fat (unless you have an extremely severe overeating problem…but even then it will be hard!). Eat in the 50-100 gram Sweet Spot and you will lose body fat, no matter who you are and how hard it’s been to drop weight in the past. Really, it’s all about the Carbohydrate Curve!”

Here’s some science from our friends at Harvard to back that up.

““This study raises the possibility that a focus on restricting carbohydrates, rather than calories, may work better for long-term weight control,” said Dr. David Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who led the study with Dr. Cara Ebbeling from Boston Children’s Hospital.”

You can also check out this, which discusses a super-huge (that’s a scientific term) study that involved 135,000 participants from all over the world. It’s called the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. It found that higher carbohydrate intake is linked to dying early, while low-carb intake is linked to living longer. It also explains why you’d be able to maintain your weight better: lowered appetite. You’re less likely to eat as much, so you’re not going to accidentally eat 3,000 calories a day.

So overall, if you want to eat lower carb for maintenance, shoot for less than 150g. If you want to lose weight, go for 100g or less. If you want to get into Ketosis, shoot for 30g or less. I personally picked 50g as my daily maximum, though I try to stay between 30-45g.

I’ll talk about Ketosis another time, but for now, thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next update! It’ll be posted next Tuesday, as usual!

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