Confused About How Many Carbs You Should Be Eating?
Over the years, many people have turned to low carb diets as a way to lose weight and improve health, but a recent Canadian study published in the Lancet Public Health discovered that replacing carbohydrates with higher intakes of animal-based protein and fat may actually do more harm than good. The observational study, which tracked more than 15,400 adults in four U.S. communities, found those people who ate less than 40% of their calories from carbohydrates increased all-cause mortality. Researchers projected that subjects on these low-carb diets could expect to live four fewer years than those following a moderate (50-55%) carbohydrate diet. On the other side, people who consumed more than 70% of their calories from carbohydrates also had a shorter lifespan with a projected life expectancy one year less than those eating moderate amounts of carbohydrates. The results suggest there is a “sweet spot” between the two extremes – 50 to 55% carbohydrates.
The USDA recommends that carbohydrates make up for 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. In addition to amounts, however, quality of the diet is also important. Those people consuming high levels of animal source protein had a much higher mortality rate than those people who had the same amount of carbohydrate and ate mostly plant-derived proteins.
“When it comes to good nutrition, moderation, balance and variety is essential – but so is type of carbs, fats and proteins,” explains Pasta Fits RD, Diane Welland. “Carbs are the body’s main source of energy,” notes Welland, adding “but it’s just as important to eat the right kind of fats, right kind of carbohydrates and right kind of protein. That is true no matter what diet you follow.”
As we know, pasta, a staple of the Mediterranean Diet, is an excellent source of complex carbohydrate and can easily be combined with other nutritious food components, such as olive oil, cheese, lean meat, chicken and fish as well as vegetables, beans and legumes — all healthy macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and proteins). This makes pasta a great option for getting a hearty carb intake, coupled with healthy diet quality when paired with other healthy foods. Bottom line: A healthy diet is one of moderation, balance and versatility across all food groups.