Are You Lower-Carb Than You Think? - A Case Study | Chris Kresser

Are You Lower-Carb Than You Think?

by Chris Kresser

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Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been discussing the benefits and risks of low-carb and very low-carb diets. Laura, one of my staff nutritionists, kicked things off with an article called “Is a Low-Carb Diet Ruining Your Health?”, and I followed up with an article called “7 Things Everyone Should Know About Low-Carb Diets”. Then Kelsey, my other staff nutritionist, wrote an article called “The 3-Step Process for Determining Your Ideal Carbohydrate Intake”. In the near future, we’ll be featuring an article about the therapeutic uses for very low-carb and ketogenic diets.

Are you on an “accidental” very low-carb diet? Find out here:

The takeaway from all of these articles is relatively simple and uncontroversial—at least according to anthropological and clinical research:

  • Very low-carb (VLC) and ketogenic diets are useful therapeutic tools in certain conditions.
  • Some (but not all) people experience adverse effects from following VLC and ketogenic diets—especially when done over an extended period of time.
  • Very low-carb diets were extremely rare during the course of our evolution and are not the “default human diet” (as some have claimed).

Before we move on to cover the therapeutic uses of VLC/ketogenic diets, I want to address an issue that I see relatively frequently in my private practice. I’ve begun to think of it as the “accidental low-carb diet” phenomenon. The best way to explain this is to share a case study. 

The accidental low-carb diet: Frank’s story

A few months ago I spoke to a patient—we’ll call him Frank. Frank is a 32-year old male who is on the SWAT team in a major metropolitan city. He came to see me complaining of extreme fatigue, insomnia, and exercise intolerance. These issues were obviously of paramount importance given his job.

About a year prior to our first visit Frank had started a low-carb Paleo diet. Some of his colleagues on the SWAT team were doing it with great results, so he figured he’d give it a try. He wanted to lean out and lose about 5 pounds of belly fat that he was having trouble getting rid of. After a few months on the low-carb Paleo diet, Frank did reach his target weight and body composition. 

But then the fatigue and insomnia started. A few months after that, he noticed he was having trouble keeping up with his training routine (which is, as you might imagine given his profession, quite rigorous). 

Frank reads my blog and listens to my podcast, and he had heard me say that some people can experience problems on a very low-carb diets. So he started to add some carbs back into his diet. This helped a little bit, but when he finally set up an appointment with me he was still struggling. 

When I talked to Frank, I asked him how he would characterize his diet. He said he used to do low-carb, but now he was on a moderate carb. I’ve learned over time not to accept this at face value, so I probed further. I asked him specifically how much carbohydrate he eats in the form of starchy plants and fruit (more on this below) on a daily basis. His answer: a sweet potato and about a half a cup of blueberries 3-4 times a week.

Although Frank thought he was on a moderate carbohydrate diet, when we did the math, it became clear he was on a very low-carb diet with fewer than 10% of calories from carbohydrate. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Frank is 6’3 and 215 pounds (with a lot of muscle). He is extremely active. In order to simply maintain his weight, he would need to eat about 3,000 calories a day.
  • If we define a moderate carbohydrate diet as 25% of calories from carbohydrate, that means Frank would need to eat 750 calories a day as carbohydrate. At 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, that comes out to about 188 grams of carb each day, or 1,316 per week.
  • A large sweet potato contains 37 grams of carbohydrate. 1/2 cup of blueberries contains about 10.5 grams of carbohydrate. In addition to these amounts of starch and fruit, Frank ate about 3-4 servings of nonstarchy vegetables each day (about 25 grams of carbohydrate on average). Given these numbers, Frank was eating about 365 grams of carbohydrate a week.

At 3,000 calories a day, this works out to about 7% of total calories from carbohydrate. That is most certainly not a moderate carbohydrate diet.

Do carbs cause weight gain? Frank’s experience.

When I explained all of this to Frank at our appointment, he was pretty shocked. He was under the impression that eating a few sweet potatoes and some berries throughout the week put him in the “moderate carb” category. Obviously, this was not the case given his weight and activity level.

He was even more shocked when we calculated how much carbohydrate (again, from starchy plants and fruit) he’d have to eat to get to the “moderate” carbohydrate level of 25% of total calories. For Frank, to reach this target of 188 grams per day, he could eat the following:

  • Four servings of nonstarchy vegetables (25 grams)
  • One large Russet potato (64 grams)
  • One cup sliced cooked plantain (48 grams)
  • One medium banana (27 grams)
  • One cup of strawberries, halved (12 grams)
  • One half-cup of blueberries (11 grams)

This meant having a full serving of a starchy plant with two meals, and some fruit either with each meal or between meals—far more carbohydrate than Frank was eating previously.

Frank was initially reluctant to eat this much carbohydrate. He told me that he had noticed that carbs caused him to gain weight. But again, when we I dug a little deeper it became less clear that it was carbohydrate in general that caused weight gain, but a certain kind of carbohydrate (namely, processed and refined carbs). 

Turns out that Frank had very strong cravings for carbohydrate after a while on the VLC diet. Instead of increasing his intake of starchy plants and fruit, he’s stay extremely low-carb and then fall off the wagon by eating bread, pizza, or something like that. Not surprisingly, he would gain weight after these “indiscretions”. (Interestingly enough, he would also feel more energetic and sleep better afterwards.)

I asked Frank whether he gains weight when he eats carbs from whole-food, Paleo-friendly sources like starchy plants and fruit. He said he didn’t know, because he had never tried eating the quantities of these foods that I was recommending. So of course that became our next experiment. 

When I spoke to Frank about ten weeks later, he was ecstatic. His insomnia was completely resolved. His energy levels were not only restored, but higher than they’d been in recent memory. But what he was happiest about was his increased performance at work; Frank had recently placed highly in a national SWAT competition that his team competed in. 

What’s more, he accomplished all of this without gaining a single pound. On the contrary, he had lost a further 3 pounds of fat and was more “lean and ripped” than he had been on the VLC diet. 

If this had been an isolated experience with a single patient, I wouldn’t even bother writing this article. But in fact it’s a fairly common occurrence in my practice. I have every patient I see fill out a diet diary which shows me exactly what they eat on an average day. Then I ask them what their carbohydrate intake is like. I’d say about 50% of the time—if not more—my patients are consuming significantly less carbohydrate than they think they are

If you think you might fall into this category, you can use the guidelines below to calculate your optimal carbohydrate intake. 

How to calculate your carbohydrate intake

The first important thing to understand is that it’s far more useful to think in terms of of percentage of calories for carbohydrate than it is to think in terms of grams per day. I often hear people make recommendations for the number of grams of carbohydrate someone should eat. But this is meaningless when you don’t take weight and activity level into account. 75 grams a day may be a moderate-carb diet for a sedentary woman eating 1,600 calories a day, but it would be a very low-carb diet for a highly active male eating 3,000 calories a day. 

The table below illustrates the ranges for “very low carb”, “low carb”, “moderate carb”, and “high carb” using percentage of calories for carbohydrate. I’ve also included examples for how many grams of carbohydrate an average, moderately active male and female might consume per day given those ranges, as well as a list of health conditions/goals that might do well for each range.

Carbbohydrate Intake Chart

In order to calculate your exact target range, follow these steps:

  1. Figure out how many calories you should eat per day. This depends on your height, weight, activity level, and goal (weight loss, maintenance, or gain). You can use any number of online calculators to get this information.
  2. Once you have your daily calorie intake, multiply that number by your target percentage of carbohydrate. So, if your daily calorie target is 2,000 calories and your target carb intake is 20%, multiply 2,000 by 0.2.
  3. Once you have the number of calories per day from carbohydrate you need to eat (from step 2 above), divide that by 4 to obtain the number of grams of carbohydrate you should eat. In this example, you’d divide 400 calories by 4 to get 100 grams. That is the number of grams of carbs you need to eat each day.
  4. With this number in mind, you can then consult the charts below, or use online tools like NutritionData.com, to figure out which foods you can eat to meet your goals.

If you’ve never done this before, I’d encourage you to give it a try. If you’re like many of my patients, you might be surprised to learn that you’re eating a lot less carbohydrate than you thought.

Carbohydrate-Content-of-Selected-Starchy-Plants

Carbohydrate-Content-of-Selected-Fruits

Carbohydrate-Content-of-Selected-Nonstarchy-Vegetables

Now I’d like to hear from you. When you calculate your carbohydrate intake as I described above, are you lower-carb than you thought? What was the difference? Have you found that eating more “real food” carbs addresses your carb cravings without causing weight gain or other symptoms? Let us know in the comments section.

206 Comments

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  1. Really annoying that Chris never answered the total carbs vs. net carbs question. Kinda makes the tables/recommendations useless IMO.

    Considering that VLC/Ketogenic (Atkins induction phase etc) was originally supposed to be <±50g net carbs, Chris' tables are difficult to interpret.

    Why was the question not answered? Why wasn't the distinction mentioned in the tables in the first place? This is open to conjectures…

  2. Erm… so what if you have a neurological disease, digestive problems, adrenal fatigue, AND are trying to gain weight/muscle + workout 5-6 days/week. I think that puts me in all 4 recommended categories (very low, low, moderate, and high carb diets). Currently at about 40% carbs, which seems reasonable, but am now concerned that it isn’t ideal for my adrenals/neurological/digestive issues and would like to see sources. ((ie, are ‘low carb’ diets maybe just associated with lower instances of highly processed ‘bread’ products and/or relatively higher protein intake?))

  3. By the way Chris, thanks for the excellent articles I found on the Internet. I have suffered for years with gut dysbiosis, yeast infections and have gone of and on low carb diets. I recently lost about 25 lbs using MFP, but did not follow a moderate or low carb diet. Now I seem to be suffering from GERD symptoms – acid reflux, hoarse voice, excessive saliva (at night after dinner). I searched GERD on the Internet and found your articles. Glad I did before trying to decide if I should use PPI’s or not.

  4. Anyone out there know what a good percentage of carbs would be for a diet designed to reduce GERD (acid reflux)?

    • Just start by excluding all gluten grains (Wheat, rye, spelt, kamut..) . Not easy to do, ok. But very often, this is a magic bullet to cure GERD. Then only IF symptoms persist after 3 weeks going grain-free, you may search for other ways. Oh and try 2 tablespoons of natural, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a big glass of water before going to bed. Works for many to diminish the symptoms of the nightly GERD.

  5. Hi Chris,

    Is it safe to eat cooked tapioca pearls everyday (as a source of carbs)? Since tapioca is derived from bitter cassava, it may have cyanogenic glucosides – correct? Is there a recommended limit to how much tapioca pearls can be safely consumed per day? And do tapioca pearls turn into glucose quicker than whole cooked cassava?

    Let me know,
    Kiran

  6. Great information! What would be the recommended carb intake for a preconception diet? Also, would you suggest spacing the carbs out throughout the day or having more at night vs. the morning?

  7. I’ve been following the paleo diet and also have started intermittent fasting. I don’t eat after 7pm and not before 11am. I’ve been in ketosis and have started back to karate following an injury. My class is at 10:30am and I’ve noticed I’m struggling keeping up. I’ve tried to add more carbs to help. I’ve read 1.5-2 hours prior to exercise eat a high carb / low to no fat food. Following the exercise, eat high carb/ fat/protein. I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing because I’ve dealt with severe adrenal fatigue in the past and I don’t want to stress my body out. I’m having a hard time getting/keeping enough carbs in my body to keep up in karate and I’ve noticed fatigue and headaches after karate. So far what I’ve tried is not working. I’m afraid to eat too many carbs because I’m trying to lose weight. Any advice/recommendations would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!

    • On a ketogenic diet, it’s not adding carbs back, but sodium, potassium, magnesium, as low carb diets, tend to cause the body to remove these nutrients quicker than normal. Using Himalayan salt for sodium, apple cider vinegar. And a magnesium supplement, and you will notice the difference very quick. And plenty of water.

  8. Great article! I was definitely one of those. Do you recommend splitten the carbs out evenly throughout the day vs. having the bulk peri-workout?

  9. Hi Chris and Staff,

    Thanks for the article–very helpful. And, still, a question that about half a dozen of us have asked. Would it be possible to get a response? Are those ranges really total carb? shouldn’t they be net carb? Or if not, why not?

    Looking forward to getting this cleared up. Thanks!

    [For readers who don’t understand the question: Starch, sugars, and fiber, are all technically carbohydrates, and nutritional data charts include all three in the [unspecified] carbohydrate content of foods (total carb). But fiber, by definition, is indigestible, so does not contribute calories. Thus “% of calories coming from carbs” should refer only to the combined starch and sugars content (a concept called “net carbs”), not the (total) carb content listed in a nutritional data base.

    And yes, the term “low carb” is a misnomer, since many “low carb” diets are actually quite high in fiber. Really, most people mean “low starch/sugar” when they say “low carb.”]

  10. I might need to add a few more carbs. Whist I eat 50 gms of las night’s night’s spuds in the morning and maybe 150-200 in the evening, that only averages out at 50 gms of carbs/day. I only eat a few more starch veggies a dyad only a piece of fruit or two, that might not be quite enough; I am rather active, even at 63.

  11. Hi Chris! I’m convinced you wrote this post partly out of pity for the sad question about exercise intolerance I submitted to your podcast. 🙂 Well, all I can say is THANK YOU!!! This article described my symptoms almost perfectly, and I started eating starch as soon as I read it. Three weeks later, I feel like a new person! I’m completely floored by how much has improved — no more insomnia, tons of energy, and even the chronic cough I’ve been unable to shake for YEARS has almost disappeared. I’m just so happy to be able to move around again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  12. I think I’m late to this discussion party, but I too have had some adverse reactions to low-ish carbs. I was doing about 80 net a day but was lifting heavy 5-6 times a week, training to run a half marathon (so running probably 3 times a week), and “cutting” weight. I dropped from 214-189 relatively slowly on 2100-2300 cals a day (slightly more if I ran). I’m 6 foot, 190 (or was). Was dieting for 5 months probably

    Here’s the thing, my LDL-c jumped from 89 to 185 in – year. Sure my HDL and Trigs improved but they were always pretty good. TSH was tested at 4.3 and 3.5 (January and April)

    Since that high LDL test in January (and another in April where my LDL was175) I’ve added back in much more carbs (potatoes, sweet potatoes, sushi rice) and added in iodine at 225 mcgs a day try and lower my TSH and therefore correct my LDL.

    Anyone had similar experiences? Anyone successful drop their LDL simply by adding in more carbs? I didn’t mess up my thyroid for good, did I?

    • I should say I’m back up to about 210 lbs and feel much better. Energy has returned, “mojo” has returned, sleeping habits are better. I’m just scared to get my cholesterol tested again.

      • pls read the “Straight dope on cholesterol” series by Dr.Peter Attia to understand why LDL-C is an irrelevant number noone should worry about.

      • Pls read the “straight dope on cholesterol” series by Peter Attia to understand why nobody should worry about his LDL-C figures.

  13. I noticed that fast metabolizers need more carbohydrates than most in the chart you posted.
    I happened to read a post on fast metabolizers and insomnia that also discussed the nutrient deficiencies and health risks of a fast metabolism. (http://blog.nmrc.ca/insomnia-part-1-sleep-nutrients-falling-asleep/) Is this the same thing as being adrenalin dominant? I just got an update from the Brain Bio Centre in the UK, and they describe night-time hypoglycemia as part of that profile. They suggest a low-glycemic index diet.

    I would appreciate a post on fast metabolism at some point. What is behind it, how do you know you have it and what if anything do you need to do about it.

    I am one of those skinny people who can’t put on weight, prone to hypoglycemia if I don’t eat regularly and don’t sleep through the night (only 10 times in 20 years or something like that).

    • I too have been thin all my life. Very fit as a teenager into all sports, dance etc. Never been able to gain weight unless pregnant and would always lose anything gained not even trying. Two and a half years ago I dropped wheat to help with digestive issues and hopefully find some answers to a burning neualgia in my head. Over time and without me noticing as it was slow, I lost weight…not a good thing for me. I didn’t make the connection that I wasn’t eating enough carbs. I ate more fat, but that didn’t help. One of my pet peeves has been all these articles the paleo/primal communities have about losing weight but none about gaining weight. So this topic you have written about is perfect, but I wish I had known near three years ago. I wonder how many of us are quietly out here, suffering with poor sleep, struggling to keep weight on and wondering what’s wrong? My question has often been to myself, why is my metabolism so fast? I need some balance. Perhaps this article is a clue.

        • Thank you! I listened to the podcast and now I have made some significant changes in what and how much I eat. I hope to be seeing improvements…not expecting miracles, but slow and steady upwards would be nice. Thanks again!

      • “One of my pet peeves has been all these articles the paleo/primal communities have about losing weight but none about gaining weight.”

        ^^^Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Major annoyance of mine, and also one I feel is dangerous for many. While there certainly *are* articles about gaining weight, they’re in the majority and ‘lowering’ X is often seen/written about as an inherently good thing instead of, y’know, recognizing that *stabilizing* X is a good thing. (and that although X might frequently be too high, X being too low is also a dangerous/suboptimal thing)

  14. Hi Betty, yes I can, thank you for your interest. I have porridge made of water and 2 tablespoons of gluten free oats and 1 oz of raw nuts for breakfast, (and an egg when I’m training),lunch and dinner are piles of non starchy veg and salad plus 4 – 8 oz protein plus a portion of rice/buckwheat, millet or jacket potato or sweet potato or buckwheat pasta or rice and millet noodles. (As in 2oz when dry standard portion) I have a portion of fruit before each meal, 1 oz raw nuts in the afternoon and for snacks I have gluten free buckwheat, oat, chestnut and multigrain crackers with various nut butters. I have 2oz of 100% chocolate after dinner 🙂 So no added sugar or products with sugar in. I need to lose 8lbs to get back to my optimum weight so my grams worked out as 43g per day. This all adds up to about 3 times that! I am grateful for any help you can give me. Thank you, Susi

  15. So what should you do if you’re an athlete and would like to lose some body fat? I’m already pretty lean, but feel terrible when I cut my carbs down.

  16. Hello Chris,
    I have a question. I am two days into a re-feed and thought I’d break out my glucose monitor and check my post meal numbers tonight after eating 1/4 c sweet potato and 1/4 white potato with butter, 5 (yes five) cubes of cantelopue, I checked 45 minutes after eating and I was floored to see my glucose at 180!! I am beastfeeding, (3 weeks postpartum) and am no where near the recommendations on the charts above for carbs. I also have hashimotos (take NDT and t3) and adrenal issues, I take my meds at 4 am to boost cortisol production. I noticed I was a bit sleepy after my lunch this afternoon but I always have an energy dip about 3 pm.
    I’m freaking out!! Do I continue the re-feed or do I drop my carbs back down. My glucose dropped to 114 (2hrs) and 93 (3 hrs) post meal tonight.
    Prior to re-feed while doing VLC my FBG was between 80-90. Failed the pregnancy OGTT but charted post meal and FBG for one week and my Dr said it looked fantastic.
    Am I doomed to a life of lettuce and non-starchy veg with the occasional fruit??!!
    Thank you for all the work you do!

  17. Hi Chris,

    I have just come across your website and have subscribed and got your book.
    Two years ago, in addition to working, horse riding and activity 6 days a week, I took up training for triathlon sprints. I was 49 years old, fit and active and slim. I increased my protein, (I have always eaten loads of fruit and veg, am gluten intolerant and clean eating) and cut back on carbohydrates. Wrongly! I ended up with post viral illness and wiped out for 4 months. Two years later, I still wipe out every time I try to build up exercise again. My question and my total shock is that I am the opposite of everyone else on this post! I thought I had upped to moderate carbs but according to your charts I am supersonic high on carbs! So why all my fatigue? Please help?!

    • Can you give us a few details on what you eat to obtain “supersonic” levels of carbs? Sorry for sounding doubtful, but it’s really not easy to eat that many carbs while avoiding grains.

      • Hi Betty, yes I can, thank you for your interest. I have porridge made of water and 2 tablespoons of gluten free oats and 1 oz of raw nuts for breakfast, (and an egg when I’m training),lunch and dinner are piles of non starchy veg and salad plus 4 – 8 oz protein plus a portion of rice/buckwheat, millet or jacket potato or sweet potato or buckwheat pasta or rice and millet noodles. (As in 2oz when dry standard portion) I have a portion of fruit before each meal, 1 oz raw nuts in the afternoon and for snacks I have gluten free buckwheat, oat, chestnut and multigrain crackers with various nut butters. I have 2oz of 100% chocolate after dinner 🙂 So no added sugar or products with sugar in. I need to lose 8lbs to get back to my optimum weight so my grams worked out as 43g per day. This all adds up to about 3 times that! I am grateful for any help you can give me. Thank you, Susi

  18. Nice reading on possible better prognosis of diabetes through modulation of gut microbiota (July 2014)

    Gut microbiota, probiotics and diabetes
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078018/

    “Diabetes is a condition of multifactorial origin, involving several molecular mechanisms related to the intestinal microbiota for its development. In type 2 diabetes, receptor activation and recognition by microorganisms from the intestinal lumen may trigger inflammatory responses, inducing the phosphorylation of serine residues in insulin receptor substrate-1, reducing insulin sensitivity. In type 1 diabetes, the lowered expression of adhesion proteins within the intestinal epithelium favours a greater immune response that may result in destruction of pancreatic β cells by CD8+ T-lymphocytes, and increased expression of interleukin-17, related to autoimmunity. Research in animal models and humans has hypothesized whether the administration of probiotics may improve the prognosis of diabetes through modulation of gut microbiota. We have shown in this review that a large body of evidence suggests probiotics reduce the inflammatory response and oxidative stress, as well as increase the expression of adhesion proteins within the intestinal epithelium, reducing intestinal permeability. Such effects increase insulin sensitivity and reduce autoimmune response. However, further investigations are required to clarify whether the administration of probiotics can be efficiently used for the prevention and management of diabetes.”

  19. Hi there.
    Could anyone please help out with my query:
    In the book “Paleo Code” it says you shouldn’t count non starchy plants to your total carb intake but in Frank’s case study they were counted towards the daily carb intake.

    Question: Should you count non starchy veggies towards your total daily carb intake or not?
    Thank you, Nina

  20. Hi. Thanks for the great article. It really made me think about revamping my family’s diet. My three year old daughter is currently losing hair. Her medical practitioner said that with multivitamin with iron might resolve the issue. But after a month of consistency with that not much improvement. My 11 son struggles with anxiety. My husband is wanting to lose weight and I am wanting to increase my muscle and decrease my bodyfat percentile. I hope to try calculating our calorie intake/amount of carbs from Paleo friendly sources like you suggest and seeing if I see any improvements in my children’s moods, energy levels and overall health. They both struggle with allergies/asthma symptoms and my husband does as well. Getting over colds usually takes a long time and for my son it leads to the prescription of Pulmicort or something similar to get rid of the wheezy cough afterwards.

    I realize that we eat fairly healthy at home- lean meats, cage free/organic eggs, healthy fats like olive oil, nut butters and coconut oil, but overall we hardly any veggies and minimal fruits, especially the three year old who is picky about textures.

    Thanks again for the info. I will post our results in a few months.

  21. I have been eating very low carb for about a month. I don’t believe I have ever made it to ketosis due to the amount of protein I eat, though I have been eating less food. The hunger and cravings are normalized (I eat only after 5 hours to help the leptin signal) and yet I have not lost a single pound! That seems to be the biggest concern…..gaining back weight after getting to the point where I actually tolerate less carbs. I believe I need fruit, for better health, but my chiro is warning me off for now. Maybe some blueberries. I am a lousy calorie/carb counter, but I am great at following a way of eating like a religion, having been a former raw vegan. That was the least health ever, with the biggest problem being related to mental health. So I do read your blog with interest (and have recently bought bacon made the regular way) but sometimes I am not sure if it’s gonna work for me….I do have blood sugar issues, etc. Feedback welcome….and plantains actually sound very inviting!!

  22. Hi Chris – great article, I really appreciate your post. I’ve lost 43 pounds on low carb, and my goal is 50…I’m so close, but I swear some days it feels so far away. I’m trying to get out of a rugged plateau I’ve hit, and making sure I’m still doing low carb “right” – it was soooo effortless a year ago.

    Just a quick question about your method for calculating ideal carb intake: I typically don’t count dietary fiber (I only count net carbs), but I noticed that you do not in your breakdown you gave to frank. The calculation I did recommends 51 g of carbs per day, but does that include dietary fiber? If so, I need to change my eating habits completely.

    Thank you so much.

  23. Why does it have to be low carb high fat? How about lower carb, moderate fat, with the fat leaning towards mono as opposed to saturated.
    Seems like people want a specific formula, and when it doesn’t work they throw out the baby with the bath water. I too experienced elevated LDL-P, and switched to more a more mono fat profile.
    My current readings: LDL-89. HDL-65. TC-168. And LPL-P dropped from 1900 to 1250.
    I really think it would benefit many to cut back on the sat fat. Just because it’s not bad, doesn’t make it good.

  24. I’ve been exploring this and the level of my carb intake after reading The Perfect Diet. After working with Jordan and Steve for a few years – and getting my SIBO managed – I have found I still can’t do resistant carbs – and the SCD legal/illegal list still is helpful for me since any carbs that aren’t monosaccharides flair my SIBO. Is it ok to increase the carbs without resorting to the resitant starches? I know it’s less than ideal – but my poor cleansing waves in my small intestine just don’t keep the over growth under control. If my carbs rise above a certain point (I do fine with low starch veggies and low sugar fruits) but it’s hard then to keep my carb count high enough. My energy is ok – but I do notice some sleep issues without having more carbs. Thanks for the post – will keep tracking!

    • Instead of avoiding triggers, have you considered trying to cure the disease? Check out the American Gut Project. They do gut flora analyses. Maybe you’re a candidate for a fecal transplant. Sure, it sounds nasty, but if it cures everything and your intolerances disappear isn’t it worth it?

  25. Hi Chris and all , reading the article I had an”aha! ” moment – finally it looks clear to me what I was doing wrong and now it easy to count carbs . Reading all comments ….I am confused again , since many people have same Q and issues what I have and it looks now I am lost again 🙁 having sugar problems and at the same time being low on carbs but my weight growing and fatigue is more but I don’t have any cravings anymore etc. etc. lost completely !!!

  26. Good article, I think that the ‘high carb’ version is still quite low in some instances. For weight/muscle gain I think more carbs are needed, I’m currently eating 400g a day and my weight isn’t increasing. I will soon be increasing it to 450 and then 500 (total cals being ~4000).

    Would the fibre in carbs count as carbs or not? I’ve read differing opinions on this with some sources stating that these fats are turned into fatty acids in the intestines anyways? So if my net carbs were 400 but 50g was fibre would this mean my total carbs were 400 or 350?

    My goal is peak performance whilst minimising bodyfat gain.

  27. I’ve been LC or VCL for about 10 years with some wagon fall off’s. Lately with crossfit I’ve tried adding back in carbs to perform better. I’ve not had luck with this. When I add back in sweet potatoes and fruit I get very gassy and have some stomach discomfort. I can’t seem to get past that though and end up cutting carbs back again

  28. Its funny that I got this email in my inbox today. The past week or so I noticed that I had BO pretty badly. earlier today it finally dawned on me that I was probably in ketosis. Purely by accident. Ive been eating lots of non starchy vegetables, that have been in my css box and just meats. Ive been very tired and have 20lbs that I haven’t been able to lose. I just ate big sweet potato and I have some rice soaking for tomorrow. Thanks the timing of this article was perfect!

  29. I’m confused by this. According to your math, I should be eating 38 grams of carbs per day to lose weight. But how can I do that and still eat veggies? It seems unrealistic for me to eat this low to lose weight without eating a lot less veg in my diet. Am I missing something?

    • If you want to lose weight, you simply need a calorie deficit. A great way to perform this is to consume less “energy” calories. Fat and carbohydrate are both “energy” calories. Simply put, eat a lot more protein and less of everything else. Don’t look at carbohydrate. Consume lots of lean meats, infinite vegetables, 2-3 servings of fruit or starch a day and really scale back on the fats and oils. Bake, roast, braise, pressure cook – these things cook meats and vegetable gently without adding fats and oils and produce a delicious product with the lowest potential for carcinogens you get when you sear, grill and fry.

    • YES – it did to mine – Thomas Dayspring did a really interesting post on a case study, and Paul Jaminet has a number of posts on low carb diets and very high LDL. Mine went to 285. I added more carbs, took out all added sources of saturated fat (coconut, butter, cream, and trimmed meat fat) used monounsaturated fats in small amounts, increased the anti-oxidant foods in my diet like kiwi, berries and veg. added a cup of starchy veg or berries to my meals. It is back down to about 150 now.

  30. I’ve never understood the fascination of carbs in the paleo movement. All of the time I hear folks concerned about their carb intake, but rarely ever their fat intake. The human body preferentially stores dietary fat as body fat, not carbohydrate. Carbohydrate intake merely halts free fatty acid mobilization. It is dietary fat that is stored as body fat in times of caloric excess. The moral of the story is that if you overconsume calories you will gain weight. In fact, if calorie and protein content of your diet is equivalent, you will probably lean out better getting more of your “energy calories” from carbs rather than fats. (Nevermind the fact that carbohydrate increases cellular respiration more than fat, so your metabolism will probably be a little bit faster preferring carbs to fats.)

    The chart in this article states 30% calories from carbs is a “high carbohydrate diet,” yet I’d venture most would say 30% calories from fats is a “low fat diet.” The fact that this stuff matters shows the failure of the paleo movement as a whole. The focus should simply be eating real food, folks. Be it potatoes, steak, avocados or bananas, if you can grow it yourself, pick it yourself or kill it yourself, it’s probably good to eat. Chris is a breath of fresh air because he’s more about embracing real food as a whole instead of creating charts and graphs and curves to adhere to that require the purchasing of books.

    • You obviously don’t have diabetes. While I agree with your statement to eat real foods, I personally am only able to keep my blood sugars in the normal range by incorporating a low carb, moderate fat diet.
      I guess I could eat higher carbs and just shoot insulin to cover it? Think I’ll pass.

      • I think you are missing my point, Bill. Diabetes is a condition where your body has trouble controlling the insulin response to carbohydrate. In no way, shape or form, is Diabetes caused by consuming carbohydrate. That would be like leaving your headlights on your car on overnight, waking up to a dead battery, then blaming the battery for being faulty.

        You also seem to think Diabetes is a permanent condition. Low carbohydrate dieting is useful for controlling blood sugar levels, but with that comes insulin resistance. If you’re not eating carbs maybe it doesn’t matter to you if you’re insulin resistant, but if you want to be healthy and insulin sensitive again, you’re eventually going to have to up your carb intake. I would suggest getting an analysis of your gut flora from American Gut Project, limiting your PUFA intake substantially and look into getting your gut very healthy via soil-based probiotics and low GI soluble fiber that you can handle. Over time, if you get healthy again, you should be able to gradually up your carb intake and regain your insulin sensitivity and beat the disease.

        IMO low carb diets have their place, but temporarily. In very few cases should they be completely permanent.

        • First of all there are many different types of diabetes, and one shouldn’t make a blanket statement. In my case I am insulin deficient, my Pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin to cover my food intake. This is genetic as it runs in my family.
          I am not insulin resistant. I am very active and in good shape, well muscled.
          I have a choice of either going down the road of ever increasing anti diabetic medications, or a diet that moderates my carb intake to keep my blood sugars in control. I choose the latter and it has been very effective for me.
          We are al different, just read through these blog posts to verify that.
          And there are many different types of diabetes. You seem well intentioned, but making a blanket statement about a desease as complicated as diabetes does a disservice to the many people struggling with this.
          Hopefully in the near future Chris will address this subset of individuals with specific challenges that are helped through carb restriction.

    • I completely agree – I led a paleo seminar to a group last night – many of whom are following a high fat paleo diet and are overweight and not losing it. Whilst some people lose weight on very low carb high fat diet – that is not the case for everyone.

      • Why does it have to be low carb high fat? How about lower carb, moderate fat, with the fat leaning towards mono as opposed to saturated.
        Seems like people want a specific formula, and when it doesn’t work they throw out the baby with the bath water. I too experienced elevated LDL-P, and switched to more a more mono fat profile.
        My current readings: LDL-89. HDL-65. TC-168. And LPL-P dropped from 1900 to 1250.
        I really think it would benefit many to cut back on the sat fat. Just because it’s not bad, doesn’t make it good.

        • My point exactly – paleo does not have to be low carb high fat (usually high saturated fat) In my view paleo should be a plant based diet with adequate protein. Every time I do high fat low carb, I put on weight, and my appetite control is worse – no to mention my cholesterol. I add very little fat to meals, if I do it is mono.

  31. I find when I eat a moderate carb diet, I get a sore throat at night. It’s mild, but aggravating. I also get gas. Very low carb, have plenty of energy and feel better.

    • See, this, to me, shows the detrimental effects your diet is having on you.

      1.) If you’re waking up with a sore throat, I’d estimate your body is overproducing hystamine and the result is sinus congestion and a post-nasal drip. Your diet has probably wiped out your gut of healthy bacteria, so this is indicative of a body susceptible to autoimmune conditions. Your diet void of healthy, soluble carbohydrate probably has you extremely prone to allergies.
      2.) You get gassy because your gut bacteria is probably severely disregulated. You lack the healthy bacteria that lets you ferment carbohydrate, so you have digestive issues.
      3.) You probably feel better and less tired not eating carbohydrate because you’re extremely insulin resistant and likely exhibit diabetic-like symptoms. A diet rich in carbohydrate makes you insulin sensitive. You probably have a physiological condition very similar to type 2 diabetes.

      All these things would likely be solved if you just ate carbs and stuck with it.

      • OH MY GOSH! This is me to a tee! Funny thing is that my Endocrinology Dr. who treats my hypothyroidism and borderline diabetes, has been telling me for years to cut out gluten, processed foods and sugar. So 4 mos. ago I finally did for fear of being put on yet another medication and felt better then I had in years, but I think I took it too far cuz now I don’t feel so good anymore. In my case, I don’t think I’m eating enough calories yet I’m still fat! I hate feeling like I can’t eat anything anymore in fear of the consequences. Thank you for your comments they had been very enlightening and helpful. My recent bloodwork came back with my LDL-P number at 1950 so she wanted to put me on Statins STAT!!! Funny but not funny! I said no, and am doing large doses of fish oil and red rice yeast. Hoping for the best…

  32. Chris:
    Excellent Article! I went on a Ketogenic diet. After 5 weeks my blood pressure spiked and I had to add more Carbohydrates, which helped. Now my energy level has dropped so I will gradually increase my Carbohydrates as you have discussed in this article. Keep up the good work!

  33. As a Type 1 diabetic I have been following Dr Bernstein’s diet (30 grams of non starchy veggies per day) for 7 years which reduced my HA1C to 5.6. In that time I have developed fatigue, low thyroid, high LDL, adrenal dysfunction (low cortisol am, high cortisol pm) and insomnia. 9 months ago I added 20 grams of carbs per day from fruit and/or starchy veggies. HA1C came up to 6.0, LDL is almost normal, TSH is normal but fatigue and insomnia remain the same. It’s tough to figure out what to do, I am still considered VLC by this chart but afraid to add more. I can cover more carbs with insulin but more carbs/insulin equals more variation in blood sugar, I take 14-16 units daily. Any recommendations? Thank you….

  34. It appears that you treat a lot of diseases but you don’t seem to mention cancer. Is this due to legal/liability reasons? You mentions a lot of other chronic diseases so I am curious. Your low carb articles have really peaked my curiosity. While I am now cancer free, I am being advised to maintain a low carb (25g to 50 g depending on doctor/naturopath). I would love your opinion regarding cancer and carbohydrates in your diet.

  35. Hi Chris,

    I’m increasingly a believer in food being the best medicine (and vice versa), and am trying to figure out some gut issues. Think stress from starting a business and planning a wedding while husband went back to school spiraled me into regular diahrrea a couple years back, not helped by an irregular diet and too much wine. Currently going through a battery of tests with GI doc (blood work and abdominal CT scan were normal last week), colonoscopy tomorrow. Reading this article makes me realize that I’m really not eating many carbs. Do you think an extreme lack of carbs could be causing/contributing to my issue?

    Many thanks. Big fan 🙂 Angela

  36. I am just wondering how increasing carbs can be done with sibo?
    I have all the symptoms of a vlc diet- insomnia, lack of energy etc, but struggle worse every time I add in carbs?

  37. My daughter is a highschool swimmer who swims about 11000 yards/day. She was on a ketogenic diet for about half a year and it did get her out of the pre-diabetic range, but her swimming performance suffered. She is now adding some potato salad (resistant starch), green bananas, tomatoes and some more fruit to her diet and her energy has increased a lot. No more bonking and times for 100 freestyle improved by 5 seconds in one week. I’m hoping her blood sugar won’t go up too far again. We are also considering adding super starch (slow-release carb).

  38. Hi Chris,

    Great article! I am wondering what a good starting point would be for me if I am a mix of categories. I am very active (running and weight training 6 days a week), which would put me around 25% but I also want to lose body fat so that would put me around 15%. I’ve had other macro calculations suggest 40% carbs and then 30% protein and fat. It’s all very confusing!!

  39. I had the same experience as the man in the article. I’m female, 42, Hashimoto’s. My version of low carb was trying to stay around 75 g/day. And boy, did I feel like crap. Totally exhausted — and the insomnia! I started adding some rice or potato with dinner, and my energy rebounded instantly, as did my sleep. I firmly believe Chris on this issue. No fast weight loss is worth feeling like that.

  40. It took about a year of paleo for me to handle 25-30% of carbs and -before- even fruit disrupted my blood sugar. Then after a year of paleo and lots of probiotics I handle paleo carbs 25-30% very well now and enjoy them more too.

  41. All this talk about too low carbs might be okay for the average person but some like myself have to have low fat & low carbs… I have Hashimoto’s and my body doesn’t metabolise carb or fat very well.. in fact it stores both at the drop of a hst. There is way too much carb in our western diet if you ask me. After 20 years with this condition I am the same weight as I was at 34 ( though the sand has shifted a little due to being in my 50’s now). If you ask me everybody would be better off with alot less carb-especially to svoid Type 2 diabetes-the next scourge of our society as a result of obsession with too much food!!

  42. Hi,
    I have been following a low carb primal/paleo diet for over a year and initially lost weight, I have been gluten free for 3. I carry my fat in the middle…I have about 20-30 pounds to lose, according to my bmi. I run about 12-18 miles per week and lift weights 3x per week. I also do HIIT training in addition on a treadmill. I am a female, 37 years old, hypothyroid and some hormonal imbalances (pcos, fibroids)and have not lost weight in a year. There is no evidence of adrenal fatigue. My doctor suggested that I change my macronutrients to 40/30/30 with carbohydrate being 40. I am currently tracking this with my fitness pal and weighing everything. I am getting close to those ratios about 50F/25/25. I would really like this weight to come off. What do you think?

  43. It seems many people are associating their ailments or fixes to carbs. Be careful these are just associations. For weight loss which is the number one problem in the Western world stay under 30g of carbs per day. Also very important is to eat heaps of fat and moderate protein. I suggest your client was not eating enough fat.

  44. Louise,

    I eat 25-30-40 grams of carbs daily.

    Are you taking in enough salt? How is your water intake? I love a glass of salt water (make it myself) with the juice of one lemon. Helps immensely with any sight fatigue in mid-afternoon. Often a 10 minute nap is all that is called for too.

    Everyone on low-carb needs salt! Very commonly addressed in the research and literature.

    • Yes agree with salt issue. Stephen Phinney discusses this. Need to have 1-2 cups of broth. I add nice pink salt to all my food. Love it

    • Anne and Alien,
      Thanks for the salt idea.. I haven’t been restricting it .. I eat very little of processed foods, but use the salt shaker at the table. Maybe I could add more salt, as it’s worth a try. I also eat bone broth, about 1/2 cup per day.
      I also struggle with GERD, so would need to try out the lemon idea and hope for no reflux from it.

  45. Hi Chris,

    How might I decide my optimal carb percentage if I am a type 1 diabetic, taking Synthroid for thyroid support due to off the charts antibodies, and I’m exclusively breast feeding an 8 week old baby!

    The type 1 diabetes and desire to lose baby weight requires a lower carb intake, but the breast feeding and thyroid issues require more.

    Thanks for your insight!
    Kori

  46. Hi Chris,

    For someone with a mix of issues which carb category should be chosen? I have less than 5 pounds to lose to be in the upper end of the healthy range for my height. And, I have PCOS, Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism and a tendency for hypoglycemia. I’ve been gluten free for more than a year and am roughy following an autoimmune paleo protocol (with the addition of nuts I can tolerate). Going to a new doctor at the end of October but was hoping to hear your advice prior to if possible. Thanks!

  47. Hi Chris.
    Great article, and it’s made me realise I am not eating enough carbs. I’m 27 male, 220lb and train 4-5x a week as a sprinter.
    I’m also suffering low cortisol as from years of excessive training.
    I struggle to get in enough carbs in a day, so what are your thoughts on using dextrose powder to get my carb count up? Obviously timed around training?

    Cheers

  48. This article describes my last year perfectly. I thought
    I was doing everything right and I couldn’t understand why I was getting more and more hypothyroid. I had heard that more carbohydrate might be the key but I guess I was being stubborn about it until I started reading this series of articles.

    Just started adding carbohydrate back about two weeks ago. I’ll let you know how my numbers look in a few weeks

  49. It seems I only get about 10g of carbs a day. I had no idea it was so low. Based on the numbers above I really need to add some carbs to my food routine. I don’t do it on purpose, I just don’t enjoy carbs much. I’ll be curious if it helps with my mild fatigue.

  50. Thank you! That would have to be the single most informative article I have ever read to help me understand carbs on a paleo style diet.

    I have struggled with exhaustion and brain fog and just haven’t been able to shift the last few kilos for some time now and I think with your help I just figured out why.

  51. If I (49 years old female, celiac (silent, brain type) very light activity, almost sedentary) increases carbs form a ketogenic diet, should I increase protein or fat, decrease protein or fat? Not sure how to precede but very interested in adding carbs. Any advice, I am grateful.

  52. Hey, what about our beloved buckwheat? Seems that should be considered a good source of carbs no? Nutritionself.com says 1 cup of roasted has 33.5 carbs (29 without fiber). And wouldn’t sprouted have more that’s bioavailable?

    Someone also mentioned legumes (cooked in the careful way of course!, ie soaked and sprouted).

  53. I have been following the recent Carb articles and really appreciate this detailed information! I have one question that I haven’t seen addressed, and it comes up a lot in my practice…are we looking strictly at total carbs, or total sugars? How much do we take into account foods (like unsweetened cacao) which have carbs but low or no sugars? Thank you!

  54. I ate a VLC diet for several years, experienced the same symptoms mentioned above with low energy, insomnia and inability to recover from exercise. Whenever I added some carbs back I put on “weight” instantly. It turns out it’s gut dysbiosis and SIBO that I was controlling with the VLC diet. Adding carbs back and getting treatment for SIBO has helped tremendously. I feel so much better!

  55. Hi Chris,

    I have been trying to lose weight for over a year now and I cannot go under 140…. I tried a juice diet to help me with the elimination diet and lost 13lbs but then I started to gain weight so I tried to count my calories, then I reduce my carb intake, my sugar intake but I kept gaining weight and now I’m back to 140 and whatever I do it stays there. I suspect that I have thyroid problems because I have a low libido, I lost my hair due tu remicade but maybe my thyroid made it worse, I also had my period a week before to stop my pill for the past months. I don’t really know what to do should I increase my carb intake or lower it? I also exercise everyday I alternate power walks and strength training everyday and on Sunday I take rest.

    Help, please!

  56. I absolutely love this kind of information! I tried the paleo diet and wound up with heel pain. I am now eating vegetarian and feeling no pain in my heels. It took a few months to get rid of the pain.

    I need to figure out how many carbs I need to get in a day but with this info I will know how to figure that one out!

    Thanks!

  57. Very interesting and may explain my fatigue every afternoon. I eat 40 to 60 gms carb per day: no grains, no starches, no dairy, almost no fruit. Finally succeeded in getting prediabtes under control..A1C now 5.5 and LDL 125 (yay!). Do I dare add in carbs? Won’t this mess up my blood sugar control which took me a few years of low carb diet to achieve?

  58. I made this mistake. I was counting weight in grams of the starchy veg/fruit etc not the actual carb content.

    I am now using MyFitnessPal to log my carbs, but I have to admit I’m finding it hard to hit target.

    And eating more carbs means less protein and veg which takes some adjustment.

  59. Great article – but the link you post for an online calculator doesn’t allow for inputting exercise, and suggested a caloric intake frighteningly below anything you would recommend (1200-1400 calories a day for a 5’9″ woman in her early 30s?!).

    • I found the same calorie calculator to be very frightening! I am a 5′ 9″, moderately active woman with a high muscle mass – it recommended 1350 – 1550 calories per day for me to lose weight which is below my basal metabolic rate.
      Can anyone recommend an accurate calorie calculator in which the user can choose lifestyle + exercise frequency?

  60. THANK YOU for this article. This information was very timely. I’ve been plateaued in my weight-loss adventure for the last 3 months (frustrating!). Like others on this site I kept upping my fat to lose weight and it wasn’t working. I’ve also had a lot of trouble sleeping.

    Looks like Chris Kresser once again came to the rescue. I’m not eating enough carbs!!! Thoroughly enjoyed adding some potato to my bacon and eggs breakfast this am.

    I would have said I was medium carb, too, but appear to actually been eating VLC!

  61. Hi Chris, awesome article, explains a lot and mirrors the symptoms I’ve been having.

    I initially tried keto 2 years ago and have been on it 90% of the time. For me it was for weight loss and it worked.

    For everyone out there who might read this, Chris I agree and can’t thank you enough for previous articles on this… It really is personal about how you feel and cope on keto diets.

    I have been playing around with the amount of carbs, and for a long time I strived to be under 20 grams per day, and felt brilliant on it. I lost 10 KGS, told everyone about it, refused to go over my ‘carb limit’, then one day just crashed. Same symptoms as ‘Frank’ no energy, no appetite, and struggled even with mental lethargy as well as physical. The one thing for me when I know I’ve been too low for too long is nausea, and I’ve found simple things help massively. Even a single piece of fruit or a mochachino helps with the energy levels a lot.

    It really is an experiment for everyone, but even though I thought I was being careful and doing the right thing, I was often going too low carb and feeling rubbish as a result.

    Funnily enough one symptom people don’t talk about : when I go too low carb, and I’m just about to crash, I don’t necessarily crave carbs, but I feel emotionally drained and down. Does anyone else get this? I’ve learned that for me it’s one of the triggers, that I can watch out for quite easily. (Or I ask my wife if I’ve been more of a pain in the are than usual (that’s normally a yes!)

    Of I add a portion of starchy veg to my meals in the evening, I feel like I’ve been good all day and the small amount of carbs resolves all my symptoms really quickly, but more than that – it actually make me happier! Just wondering if anyone else had experienced this?

    • I can relate to your experience exactly as you state. For me its a mental, somewhat depressive feeling, and although I feel great 90% of the time on low carb, I know I can lift my mood with a sweet potato from time to time.

  62. Thank you, Chris! I’ve been looking for a chart like this. Very cool to see sweet potatoes coming in at 37g vs. white potatoes at 64g. Seeing concrete info like this is awesome. Super helpful!!

  63. Thank you so much for this I am currently breastfeeding and have 3 very active children until I read this and did the calculations I realised I am not eating near enough carbs! I get very tired in the afternoon and after dinner I crave bread and other bad refined carbs and often end up over indulging and feeling terrible the next day. I am overweight from my pregnancy and would like to lose weight but do not want to affect my milk supply. I am very busy and often need to pre prepare my meals otherwise I end up skipping meals or eating too late. I will be very interested to see the change when I try to eat the amount of carbs per day I am meant to be eating. Hopefully I see a change in my energy levels and less cravings !?? Thank you

  64. When I did this calculation, I was eating less than I thought. I added some legumes (about 3-4 servings a week) and it helped a lot. My meals now last me several hours.

  65. Hey Chris,

    I noticed that you might — depending on other factors as well — recommend a lower carb diet for someone with mood disturbances. Can you elaborate a little on this?

    I think that popular opinion is carbs increase mood, yet I definitely notice I’m edgier when I have more carbohydrate in my diet, so this caught my eye.

    Thanks,
    Stu

    • As is often the case, it depends on the patient and the cause of the mood disturbance. In some cases, VLC helps. In others, boosting carbs helps.

  66. Great article! This really resonated with me. Several years ago, I started having unexplained periods of exercise intolerance. Since exercise intolerance is often associated with a failing heart or heart disease, I was concerned, to say the least. Stress made this condition worse. I have become more and more convinced that this is due to a carbohydrate deficiency. Who knew. I have come to Paleo from the low-carb community and this is something that is still not readily accepted.

    How this brings up an important question. Do you have any advice for people who have blood sugar issues and who might be diabetic or pre-diabetic but do not do well on low-carb.

  67. “Very low-carb diets were extremely rare during the course of our evolution and are not the “default human diet” (as some have claimed).”

    HUH!!!??? WHA’!!!???

    Frankly, Europeans MUST have experienced extended very-low-carb periods during their evolution, because of both harsh winters and the last ice-age, which occurred during the upper paleolithic, from approximately 110,000 to 12,000 years ago. Humans were there during that whole time! And so I can’t imagine how you can possibly say that!!??

      • Homo Sapiens… with basically the unchanged (or only moderately changed) DNA, that paleo adherents like to point out, have only been around for 200,000ish years. Earlier than that were not Sapiens and so, by definition, had a different DNA (and diet). This has always been a point of contention with me. :-/

        So, I stand by my statement.

      • I guess the homo sapiens that came from more equatorial regions would be different again i.e. eating more starch than their northern co-species.

        • One of my ancestresses was still living in Africa 50,000 years ago as my maternal haplotype is L1b and that’s when this mutation occurred. Most people in the world with this haplotype are living in around Nigeria.

  68. I can relate. Low-carb paleo has thrown my thyroid out of whack. I am on 60 mg of Armour to get my TSH down from 9.0. Also have low T and high LDL.

    Any thoughts on beans? I really enjoy them and the ease of a can of beans, refried, chili or properly soaked and cooked beans are my go to vs. taters and rice. Any issues with them as a carb source that seems to stick to my bones more (i.e. doesn’t elevate my blood sugar and leave me hungry a few hours later)

  69. After several years of success on paleo but still being ~20 lbs from my goal weight of 140 (the high end of being healthy for my height of 5′ 3″), I decided to go low carb paleo. Spent about 4 months at about 25 g carb/day, with occasional treat meals. Low-carb, compounded with professional stressors have given me about 6 months of insomnia. It’s like my head hits the pillow and suddenly I am awake. I have gone 48 hrs without sleep on many occasions. My friend’s mom, who works in naturopathy, said it sounded like adrenal fatigue. I’m trying to add carbs back in. I’m doing a banana and either white potato or sweet potato towards the end of the day, because I find I sleep better if I carb-load towards the end of the day. I sleep like a baby after occasional servings of white rice…not exactly paleo, though! Is there any recommendation for optimal times to consume carbs?

  70. Hey Chris-
    Great article. I find myself relating to the story. I’m a 23 year old graduate student. As a college baseball player I had trouble maintaining my weight as well as a clean diet as it is hard with travel. I started Paleo about 2 years ago and for the first time it was easy for me to stay lean. I was having a very hard time sleeping, however, like the problems you said before as well as a lack of sex drive. When I would binge on a pizza, similarly I would sleep great. I read The Perfect Health Diet and Your Personal Paleo Code and decided to eat sweet potatoes and white rice.

    When I tried the sweet potatoes I got a terrible pain below my navel. After trying yuca as well the same thing. The white rice not so bad but I still feel, the best way to describe it, is weird and not right after I eat all of these starchy carbs. The GI doc described it as IBS but it only happens with certain foods. I never had any problems with these before I started cleaning up my diet.
    I have no trouble with fruits like apples and berries however or nuts, which I now find myself eating a lot of. I want to include more carbs in my diet and I feel like the couple years of low carb as thrown my system off.

    I was wondering if you had any insight on what may be happening here? Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Andrew

  71. Hi there Chris I love what you do and am an ardent fan of your podcasts and the whole paleo thing, your version of it at least.

    However I’m getting into a bit of a spin about this whole carb thing. I’d sort of taken on board that with paleo you didn’t need to restrict calories in order to lose weight just eat nutrient dense foods. I’ve just pumped in the relevant stuff into the calorie calculation stuff of your point 2 … I’m supposed to be restricting my calories to 1350 per day (I’m a 52yr old 5’5″ moderately active female) and eat 50g of carbs… more to the point that’s 200 calories of my precious 1350 in carbs! So, I’m really back to restricting calories again, right?

  72. Chris – This is a great article – and describes me exactly. I’ve been low carb for quite a long time now but I still have cravings that sometimes I just have to give into. When I do end up indulging – its the wrong stuff because that’s what happens to be available. Just this week I have been trying to force myself to at least eat more vegetables. I’ve been afraid of fruit for a long time now – but using the charts above I’m going to make myself a little food plan and see what happens.

    Thanks!!!

  73. Thank you for these recent articles – they have really helped me gain perspective and I am already starting to feel better after adding more carbs back into my diet.

    I have stage 3 adrenal fatigue and struggle with getting to sleep but more carbs are making such a positive difference. I now see how potentially damaging the anti-carb crew can be, and even whole food carbs are demonised for causing diabetes and other health issues.

    Thanks again for your balanced, evidence based approach!

  74. I’ve been trying to stabilize Hubby’s blood sugar for months with lower and lower carbs (his diabetes is generation-old genetic). I’ve even tried increasing fat, fiber, lowering protein, putting 12 hours between meals, increasing chromium intake, all to no avail.

    Last night, we had taco wraps for dinner: 1/4 c. of shredded London broil, 1 T. Sabrosa salsa, about 1/4 c. grated pecorino cheese, and a good handful grab of shredded lettuce on Julian Bakery’s coconut wraps–he had 1. His numbers never went above 100, and stayed in a tight 94-98 range pre-meal, post-meal, and FBG the next morning.

    Could it be that he needs more veggie carbs than I realized? It could be. Tonight’s experiment is with 24-hour cold potato salad, and some sort of other salad that’s meatless (an N=1 to see if it works again). Meat + potato salad always equaled trouble in the past, since Hubby is a hyper-carnivore.

    If I end up having to feed him taco wraps the rest of his life just to achieve this kind of progress, I’ll do it–he’ll gladly eat them as long as I keep adequate salsa supplies handy.

  75. Fantastic article. I have been tracking my carbs for a little while now, and the tool I use tracks net carbs rather than total carbs, based on the argument that the fibre or sugar-alcohol content off-sets some of the carb content. So I would be interested to know if the tables and advice above is related to total carbs or net carbs? Many thanks

  76. Interesting article. Thanks Chris. I can’t help but wonder – is it possible that Frank’s issue was caused by a massive calorie deficit rather than a lack of carbs? And by getting him to increase carbs you increased his calories which solved the problem? I wonder what would have happened if you increased Frank’s calories by getting him to eat more fat instead….

    • As I said in my answer to a similar question above, increasing calories as fat does not have the same beneficial effect in most of these patients. I tried that early on.

  77. Great article
    I have two questions which diet or eating style would suit a person with very sore knees and joint issues ? I tried vegan it made no difference ? Maybe I wasent strict enough or did it for long enough ?
    And which is the best way to loose stomach fat about 6.5lbs to go , it’s a old beer stomach , have lost lots of weight just trying to shift the last lot
    Thanks

  78. I’ve spent the last nine months on an ultra-low carb diet (12 g carbs per day) because of a serious cancer, after being paleo for about 18 months. I’ve gotten the extreme fatigue, and it actually has a pretty easy solution. From various sources I’ve learned that VLC ketogenic diets deplete your body of sodium very easily, and that this leads to a feeling of extreme fatigue. I’ve learned to solve the problem by having about a half cup of bone broth (reasonably salty) every day. When I’m out of bone broth for a few days, I sometimes get serious fatigue symptoms. I drink a small glass of salt water (yuck) and I’m a new person in about an hour.

    I do think that VLC diets can probably cause long-term negative health outcomes. The only other symptom I notice is that my cortisol seems higher – I startle a bit more easily, for instance. On the other hand, I’m hoping that the diet will significantly slow tumor growth (the date is quite preliminary), which would be a reasonable trade. The silver lining is that I have lost a lot of weight with seemingly no effort (due to diet, not to medical treatments). I feel excellent, and after being moderately overweight my whole adult life am now at my slim high school weight at 44.

  79. Chris, what are yours thoughts on lactose (milk arbs) counting? When I dial in just non-starchy vege, I am at very low carbs for the day. Mostly under 20g. When I add in two cups of coffee filled with milk my my daily lattes the count goes up to 35g carbs or higher. I have been including this and seeing no weightloss. Should I eat more veggies and not count milk carbs?

  80. I did a 30-day reset in July and was about to start adding things in when I got slammed with 3 days of vomiting followed by what is now 2 months of fatigue, insomnia and exercise intolerance, among other symptoms. Have tracked down C.diff. as an underlying pathogen, but I now believe that I’m on an unplanned VLC diet as well. Have begun an antibiotic and probiotic regimen, but will also start keeping track of my carbs. I mean, one can never have too many plantains, right?

  81. I just wanted to mention another issue that I’ve seen in myself and other post menopausal women – and that is a massive increase in LDL cholesterol on very low carb, moderate – to high saturated fat diets. My LDL freaked my doctor out as it went up to 7.5 – that is 285. I worked out I was only eating about 40 grams of carbs a day – not intentionally, just by default. I increased it to 120 or so, cut out the coconut oil, cream and butter, had slightly leaner meat, and switched out to monounsat fat sources like olive oil on salads. Within a few weeks it had dropped back down to 155. It is not just the low carb – it seems to be the combo of low carb and high saturated fat, combined with menopause. I also find my sleep is more solid, and satiety so much better with the higher carb meals.

    • The high LDL can often happen on LCHF but the lDL is usually the soft fluffy stuff not dangerous. It is the small dense oxidised LDL that is the dangerous one. You need to get your doctor to measure the LDL particles to see what your composition is. LCHF is a very healthy way to live. The higher fat is great for satiety and great for the brain. It is sugar and processed carbs that are atherogenic not fat

      • I did have them measured – I had mostly large fluffy – but a lot of it, slightly too much small dense and high oxidised LDL. Not a good picture. My Triglycerides are low and HDL very high too.
        Similar to a couple of other people that I know were tested. See Thomas Dayspring, high LDL is not necessarily safe even with low TG and high HDL

  82. Great! Thanks Chris – this explains my recent lack of energy.
    I was definitely under 10% carbs. Been having a mostly FODMAP diet for gut issues which meant only a handful of types of vegetables, almost no fruit and only sweet potato 2-3 times per week.

  83. I’ve seen exactly the same with my paleo clients. In females often crossfitters, they are doing fine until they do a paleo challenge at the gym, or they go on a low carb paleo diet to low body fat and increase the intensity and lengths of workouts. Their carbs go down to about 20 per day, with accidentally or by choice. They start getting menstrual issues, insomnia, cravings for carbohydrates, fatigue, reduced performance, slow recovery.They add more fat – because that is what everyone tells them to do. Their weight plateaus or increases. I have them eat at least 100 grams of starchy carbs a day, and a decent amount after workouts and problems reverse.

    • I think white rice is fine in moderation if it’s well-tolerated and doesn’t replace more nutrient dense foods. It’s mostly starch, which humans have a long history of eating.

  84. I really appreciate the tools and charts provided here to help calculate MY appropriate carb intake – I have terrible Hashimoto’s brain fog so this made it really easy for me!

    I don’t wanna gush Chris, but I just want you to know that your blog (along with Paleomom and a couple others) has become my “go-to” if I want well-rounded, BALANCED information with current science to back it – for me, I get the final word here on any topic with a lingering question mark. Thanks for all the myth busting and making all our healing journeys much less stressful, and much more doable!

  85. Great, informative and helpful article ( as always 🙂 thank you! It’s always somewhat challenging to balance carb intake when dealing with the common combination of dysbiosis and adrenal/thyroid issues. Could cycling between the two recommended ratios be enough to stimulate thyroid function/ unload adrenals while not feeding microbes too many carbs?

  86. Thanks for the great article. I’ve been on paleo diet for a year but haven’t been able to gain weight on it, so recently started eating grains again (no gluten as I have Celiac). I do feel more energized and stronger at the gym. My question is if grains like brown rice, and corn are ok- in terms of acceptable carbs that won’t necessarily make you gain fat. I understand white and processes starches do that- so really curious about whole grains, which you didnt mention in the article. Thanks!

  87. Hi
    So what is the best way to loose belly fat from a old habit of beer drinking ! ( dont drink now) cant shift the last 6.5lbs ?
    LCHF ? Paleo ?

  88. I do not lose weight. I am thirty kgs over. I live on green salad, protein and pretty much nothing else due to massive food reactions. If I follow the steps given I am only allowed to eat 12 gms of carb a day. I don’t think I would even get a meal if that is right. Can someone tell me if I got it wrong.
    55yr old, 86kgs, female, 50 to 75gm carb goal due to health issues, 1450cal daily intake required for me to lose any weight theoretically. 1450 x .034 = 49.3 divide by 4 = 12.32 gms of carb to eat = a cup of lettuce and an asparagus for the day!!!!

    • Bronwen think you have mixed up your maths. If your total cals is 1450 for weight loss and wanting to eat 34% carbs (assume this is where you got the 0.034 from). You need to multiply 1450 x 0.35 which is 507.5. If you divide this by 4 that is 126g of carbs. Think this is too high now. I think if you went for 20% carbs that would be 1450 x 0.2 divided by 4 would be 72g. Chris suggests 10-15% for weight loss so 10% would be 145.0 divided by 4 would be 36g carbs. 15% would be 54. Personally i stick to about 40g carbs for weight loss. I am 50 and weigh 78 kg. I have lost 2 kgs so far. Hope this helps

  89. I had an odd thing happen I was eating more carbs than I though 100g when I thought I was on a low carb diet. I increased them to 150g using sweet potato and such and my carb cravings got worse. I decided to formulate my low carb diet better dticking to less than 30g and after 3 days my carb cravings went away and I started losing weight again. Chris why am I like the opposite to normal people? If I eat carbs from sweet potato I get hungry and try to eat 5000-8000 calories. If I go ultra low carb I can stick to my 2000 calorie diet and lose 1lb per week with ease?

  90. Chris,

    Great article! One question though. Based on your book and previous articles, I thought carbs from non-starchy vegetables shouldn’t count towards total carb intake? In this article you made it seem like they do, in fact, count.

    • Hi Vlad,

      I do still think that nonstarchy veggies don’t make much of a contribution overall. The research on that isn’t bulletproof, and I wanted to make this article as clear as possible. As you can see, even if you count nonstarchy veggies, it’s likely you’d end up on a VLC diet if you only eat a small amount of starchy plants and fruit.

      • Hi Chris, I figured out my ideal grams of carbs from the equation you provided; I should eat about 63.75 grams of carbs (15%) to lose weight. If I eat an apple and a banana as my main carbs and then non-starchy veggies (adding the garbs from them too) for lunch and dinner with protein I easily go over the 63 grams. So I seem to have the opposite problem… eating more grams of carbs than I thought. How important is it to count the non-starchy veggies in the total count. I feel like if I do add them in I will be hungry (as I already am doing what I have been doing). I eat healthy fats, but can’t eat too much of them otherwise I seem to get a dull ache in my gallbladder. A bit lost as to how to lose weight and not be starving. Thanks for the great article!

        • I have the same issue as Therese. I can easily get to 100+g of carbs a day (and over 20% of daily calories) from non-starchy vegetables and a piece of fruit and a few nuts/seeds. I restrict starches to avoid fuelling my SIBO condition, gut parasite and ibs. And inspite of eating adequate carbs, I also have the issues you discuss in the article (hypothyroid, brain fog, very low energy). If I eat more calories, I put on weight. Any thoughts Chris? Thanks for a great series of articles on this topic!

  91. Although I see the merit in what you’re writing here, I am embarking on a keto journey, so to speak to a few conditions I struggle with…I believe that the high-fat diet of a keto diet will help rebalance my hormones (I have amenorrhea) and strengthen my immune system. For the last 4 years, I’ve had consistently low white blood cells, possibly as a result of previously being infected the Epstein Barr Virus. I believe and my naturopath believe that the lack of glucose, which is feeding this virus, might help to get rid of it “once and for all” (knowing that EBV doesn’t ever really go away)…but it does keep manifesting itself as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in me…

    Any thoughts?

        • Hope you don’t mind me making a suggestion. I’ve had chronic fatigue issues for a while with terrible immunity. Much improved once I found my zinc and copper were not balanced optimally. The naturopath should be able to help you assess this and treat if applicable (usual testing is plasma zinc and serum copper – easy to test, need to be off these supplements if you’re on them for 4-5 days before testing). Even being on a Paleo diet one can have an imbalance. Take care.

          • According to a hair mineral analysis, my copper is low and my zinc is normal (normal zinc is also confirmed with blood work); however, my ratio for Zn:Cu is off. It should be between 4-20 (that is the reference range) and mine is 22.5.

            Any thoughts?

            and THANK YOU for your comment. I appreciate it.

    • Sophie,

      please reconsider your keto idea to get rid of EB virus. There has been said a lot about dangers of ketogenic dieting for women. You have amenorrhea and despite that you like to experiment on yourself, with the risk of candida setting in and making your symptoms even worse.

      Why don’t you eat healthy carbohydrate rich diet instead and address your EB virus with herbal remedies, and foods that help to heal?

        • Chris had info on one of his podcasts with another doctor that talked about evidence that candida can be fed by ketones. Most stories I read about people in keto say that their battle with yeast has been helped with keto. My chronic itching from yeast infections was cleared up by keto and taking interfase.

        • Sophie,

          Candida thrives on ketones. This is why I don’t recommend a ketogenic diet as a treatment for fungal overgrowth. I wouldn’t suggest a keto diet for treatment of chronic viral infections typically, either.

          • It’s funny. Being keto for much of year before re experimenting with carby foods again was the only thing that totally rid me of all candida finally after years of having it on and off. Even though candida can consume ketones (because like us, it is a eucharyotic organism), like us, it also has to adapt to that when it is used to feeding on glucose, and seems to be less efficient on ketones and cannot reproduce as fast, at least for a while….so keto with lots of coconut oil and including bone broths, adequate protein, combined with antifungals like berberine, and all at time of relative immune strength….I think that was the combo that did it for me.

          • You have to be careful with “scientific studies”. Many do not have proper test parameters especially ones about ketogenic diets. Most don’t even get the clients into ketosis (2 week study and ketosis take 2-4 weeks, that type of thing). In my practice I find the opposite to be true. Also, that study you site doesn’t mention beta hydroxybutyrate anywhere that I can see.

          • You have to be careful with “scientific studies”. Many do not have proper test parameters especially ones about ketogenic diets. Most don’t even get the clients into ketosis (2 week study and ketosis take 2-4 weeks, that type of thing). In my practice I find the opposite to be true. Also, that study you site doesn’t mention beta hydroxybutyrate anywhere that I can see.

    • Try reddit.com/r/xxketo and ask if anyone has experience with your issues. I’ve read some great success stories, but keto is not for everyone. I agree with Chris with self experimentation. I went keto, but then broke it for a cruise. I was feeling great on it.

  92. Love this carb series you are doing Chris! I was very low carb for 10 months and about 3 months in started experiencing terrible hypoglycemia like symptoms (although when i would check my blood sugar it would be normal), constant hunger, and what felt like reactive hypoglycemia. I never had BS issues before going LC! I am now at about 100 grams a day, have been for about 3 weeks. I’m still experiencing these symptoms to some degree although i think they have improved a bit. Have you ever heard of this happening on LC?? How long should it take for these symptoms to go away? Thanks so much for any insight!!!

    • Hi Christina,

      Yes, I’ve seen that happen before and it’s not entirely uncommon. Give it a few more weeks; I imagine the symptoms will resolve after eating more carbs for a while longer.

  93. Very useful information! Would you consider migraines as an “neurological issue”? I am on a ketogenic diet which seems to improve my migraines but wonder if I should up my carbs a little…

    • Have you read Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet? He addresses jhow to stay in ketosis while eating enough carbs. Basically, it requires supplementing MCT oil and/or BCAAs. He has an article on the migraine issue too on his website.
      Best wishes 🙂

    • I heard a fabulous talk at the 2014 Ancestral Health Symposium by a neurologist from Atlanta, Dr. Joshua Turknett, who is having great success treating migraines with diet and other environmental changes. I really recommend you check out his talk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kii64XwKXac) and his Web site (http://www.dekalbneurology.com/meet-the-doctors/), which has stunning reviews of his book, The Migraine Miracle, and gratitude filled testimonials from the formerly afflicted.

  94. Great article Chris. Those charts are very helpful, thanks for sharing those as well.

    I think framing the whole piece around Frank’s story was really helpful. It’s easier when we have a reference to compare to. I’m a cyclist and I love experimenting with nutrition so I of course have tried a lot. I saw some great results when I eliminated a lot of bad carbs but at the same time I made the the mistake of not replacing the bad carbs with enough good carbs. After few months of low carb eating I added up one day’s worth of common meals that I eat and saw that I was eating far too little. I’ve since added more good carbs back into my diet.

    After some trial and error I’ve found that rotating through LCHF days, moderate to high carb days, and a 12-16hr. fast once a week works well for me.

    I think athletes, especially, are prone to having issues with going too low carb. If you don’t know how many carbs you are actually eating it’s a lot tougher, which is why I think those charts are so helpful.

    This series of articles has been great, so thanks again!

    • This is quite similar to me, keto with carb cycles for high intensity exercise (in my case HIIT and heavy lifting), And intermittent fasting for apoptosis and keeping lean.

      One thing I only realised lately is that glycogen storage is rate limited…I always assumed that I could fill the muscles with a big carb fest once or twice a week, but it never seemed to work. Now I am trying more regular refeeds, and so far so good. There is some evidence to suggest that few people can take up more than 60-80g of carbs in one meal and convert this to glycogen, which means if you are highly athletic and training every day and using that glycogen, you need to restock it pretty much daily and probably even more than 1x a day….it also means that if you eat bucketloads of carbs in one meal you will just store most of it as bodyfat.

      Check our Suppversity, a great blog written by a very clever German physicist who devours mountains of scientific articles constantly on exercise physiology, nutrition, muscle gain and fat loss. I have learnt a lot from him lately.

  95. I think you mean “…multiply that number by your target percentage of CARBOHYDRATES” (not calories)

    2.Once you have your daily calorie intake, multiply that number by your target percentage of calories. So, if your daily calorie target is 2,000 calories and your target carb intake is 20%, multiply 2,000 by 0.2.

  96. I’ve really enjoyed these carb info posts and I’m enjoying being able to contextualize the carb debates into my own experiences. I’m entering my final few weeks of pregnancy and have noticed that I’m craving more carbs. I’ve been trying to be careful about how many I eat while fully recognizing that I need more than I would if I wasn’t carrying and/or nursing a child. Even as I’ve increased potatoes and even had rice a couple of times a week (and I enjoy plenty of fruit in general), I had to idea I was consuming so little! My pregnancy is going very well, but now that I think of it, I realize that since I’ve added in these things, more out of cravings than anything, I’m not exhausted like I was a few weeks ago, and I’m still not gaining the crazy amount of weight I expected to when I started ‘letting’ myself eat these things. Processed versus whole food carbs sources make such a difference!

  97. Thanks for all you do Chris.

    Was wondering if most of your patients that are eating less carbohydrate than they think are coming to you on an eating strategy that is heavily hypocaloric.

    I know in Frank’s case it was probably better to get him on more starch due to the nature of his work, but for your other patients do you find that they are just not eating enough.

    My experience with ketogenic eating ended up horrendous.
    The knee jerk response for me was to put starch back in my diet which resolved the issues.

    However, when I look back at what I was eating I found I just wasn’t eating enough (ketogenic eating killed my appetite). Most days 600-800 calories under what I figure was my basal requirement.

    I’ve been experimenting with ketogenic eating again this time ensuring I get enough calories… primarily from coconut fats, but also avocados, egg yolks, and heavy cream. So far so good.

    • Yes, that is certainly a factor. Though in many cases just having them add more calories as fat will not solve the problems they’re experiencing.

  98. Great information! I wonder how resistant starches should be counted. I take about 20 grams of resistant starch, plus a green banana, each day. Do I include those carbs in my daily total?

  99. Thanks for this article — I’m so glad you’re doing these. I accidentally went *too* low carb after switching to a paleo diet, and didn’t realize it for months. I was losing weight (and wasn’t that big to start), and lost my period, but my energy levels were always high and I didn’t have any other symptoms. For a long time, I attributed the loss of period to something else. Finally, I actually counted up how many carbs I was eating in a day and my jaw almost dropped to the floor! I added a serving of plantain chips, sweet potatoes, or white rice to every meal, and started eating fruit more consistently, and in a couple of months my body returned to normal.

      • I had the same problem, except with the addition of “Frank’s” symptoms of insomnia, fatigue, exercise intolerance and failure to recover. I also found out when I looked into it, that not only was I VLC, I was in an EXTREME calorie deficit. I was always full due to the meat and large quantities of non-starchy vegetables I was eating. Thanks again for this article, it helps me feel supported in my new adventures in higher carb eating!

  100. hi Chris,
    great article! I constantly read your blog, truly enjoyed your book and listen to your podcast every week as your nutritional advice has helped me immensely to overcome ulcerative colitis and have a healthy pregnancy.

    I have a question regarding carbs: you suggest >30% for pregnant and breastfeeding women and since I’ve gotten pregnant I’ve followed that advice (I was craving for starchy veggies anyways!) however, I also suffer from PCOS and I’m worried that once I give birth (I’m now 8mths pregnant) my PCOS symptoms will return if I don’t go back to low-moderate carbs to manage the blood sugar issues. what is your opinion? I’d obviously rather give my baby all the nutrition possible thru healthy carbs but i’m worried that PCOS is also linked with low milk supply so wouldn’t want to have it unchecked.
    ps: I really enjoyed Laura & Kelsey’s podcast on how to deal with conflicting carbs recommendations (sibo vs adrenals) but i’m still at loss on the breastfeeding vs pcos one.
    pss: you HAVE to visit the Dominican Republic!!! we LOVE plantains to the point of adoration, and other starchy veggies such as yucca and sweet potatoes are also a big part of the traditional diet. we even have a stewed dish called “sancocho” with 7 types of meats and 5 types of starchy veggies that i’m certain you’d like. sorry for the long comment, first time I ever ask a question and I really wanted to thank you for all the good work you do. all the best,

    • Hi Maria,

      Probably best to wait and see what happens after you give birth. When you’re nursing your dietary requirements are often different than they were prior to conceiving and being pregnant, so you may do well with more carbs during that time as well.

      I’d love to come to the Dominican Republic at some point. I’m planning an article about 9 different ways to eat plantains soon. Perhaps you can leave your “sancocho” recipe in the comments section!

      • Thanks for replying Chris!!
        Ah, 9 ways of eating plantains in Dominican Republic is like asking an Irish for 9 ways to eat potatoes 🙂
        – “Mangú” is the traditional breakfast of boiled green plantains, later mashed with olive oil and butter and toped with sauteed onions. It’s usually eaten with bacon and scrambled eggs.
        – “Tostones” is fried green plantains, you slice them thickly, fry them and then squash them before doing a second fry.
        – “Mofongo” is fried green plantains that are then mashed and mixed with bacon and fat and served for dinner.
        – “Sancocho” is the stew typical of important events that’s served with white rice and avocados (here’s a good recipe: http://www.dominicancooking.com/125-sancocho-de-7-carnes-7-meat-hearty-stew.html I’m sorry to post someone else’s recipe but my grandma’s idea of giving me her recipe is to simply say “add plantains, herbs and meats”.
        – “Pastelon” is ripe plantains mashed with a bit of butter and milk and then used to put together a Pyrex dish with meat like a cottage pie or shepherds pie.
        – “platanos al almibar” is a dessert of really ripe platains sauteed in butter and then sugar added with cinnamon sticks until they cook in a syrup.
        – “platanitos” is green plantains sliced so thinly that when you fry them once they taste like crips.
        – “platanos al horno” is when you wrap the ripe plantains in aluminium foil and stick them in the oven to bake.
        – “pasteles en hoja” is the classic Christmas side dish (and my all-time favourite) but it’s extremely complicated to make as you boil the plantains, then grate them into a paste, make a pastry that will wrap a filling of seasoned meats and then wrapped again by plantain tree leaves. After wrapped they are left to rest for a day or so and then boiled before serving.
        What can I say… You have to visit the Dominican Republic! 🙂
        Ps: the sad thing is that on the late 80s when import duties were lifted on imported goods American corn flakes became popular and suddenly the traditional diet changed… But still now plantains are such a big part of the culture that we even have phrases such as “platano power” to refer to physically strong men.
        Best wishes,

        • Maria,
          Thanks for the wonderful list of plantain recipes! We LOVE plantains and they are so kind to a frazzled digestive system too!

        • Maria, speaking of plantains, I was in Jamaica recently and had a lovey porridge made with them. It was served for breakfast, very creamy. Since I miss hot cereal due to a lower carb diet..I was wondering how they make it so creamy like that? It could of been a mix, through I’ve never seen a plantain (flour) or mix…any ideas?
          Thanks, Carrie

      • The Institute of Medicine of the The National Academy recommends a minimum 135 carbohydrate grams for all adults with the exception of 175 for pregnancy and 210 for lactation in order to meet the needs of the central nervous system including the brain.

        http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Macronutrients.pdf

        Their recommended daily carbohydrate range is 45% – 65% which is much higher than what Chris recommends.

        It’s important to understand that The Institute of Medicine, The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association all follow these general guidelines.

        This means in comparison to mainstream medicine, even Chris’s “high carb” recommendation is considered “low carb.”

        I think Chris has it just about right. While some people have done well on extreme low carb diets, (including me) the pendulum may have swung too far for people who are not overweight, diabetic or prediabetic.

        When you are in the middle like Chris, you get attacked from both sides.

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