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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

How much carbohydrate should I be having in my meals?

I was wondering whether you could help me please. I know that Carbohydrates are a problem for me.. if I eat a high amount I bloat and ALWAYS put on a lot of weight, I'm not sure whether this is down to my PCOS & Insulin but I am avoiding them as much as possible. I do try to have a balanced healthy dinner and chose from books or sites that give me a full breakdown of what is included in the meal. Could you tell me what a good/healthy amount of carbohydrates in a meal (especially one pots - they're my favourite :-) ) For instance my meal tonight a chicken and bean spicy stew, has 30g carbohydrates is this high? what is the average carbs you should have per day? Sorry, its probably a really obvious question, appreciate your help. Many thanks

A.

Our expert says...

Carbohydrates are an important part of any healthy balanced diet, and the general recommendation is that they should account for around 40-50% of our calorie intake. In your case, being on a 1,400 calorie allowance, this would mean between 560 - 700 calories coming from carbohydrate throughout your day. In weight, this is between 140-175g of carbohydrate. This is a recommendation so what we're not saying is that you have to have this much in your diet - it's just a guideline to help you to see how your intake fits with 'normal' recommendations.

The important thing about carbs isn't necessarily the total amount you have, but more about the type you have. You should be aiming for the more complex carbohydrates which take longer to digest such as wholegrains, wholemeal breads, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, porridge etc, rather than the more simple carbs such as sugary drinks, biscuits and cakes.

Aim to go as complex as you can for every carb you choose. This is particularly important if you suffer from PCOS and have issues with insulin control. The more complex the carb, the better effect it will have on your blood sugar levels.

There is nothing wrong with trying to reduce your overall carbohydrate intake, however I wouldn't advise going on a very low carb diet. Cutting out carbs too much can lead to issues with weight control (over time), and can lead to a lack of energy.

If you were to look at what a 'healthy' level of carbohydrate is per meal, you need to think about your day overall and how you eat your carbs. For example, if you tend to have most at dinnertime, then I would expect a good proportion of your carbs at this meal occasion - say 50% for example. In terms of your recommended intake, this could mean up to 70-80g in a meal. An average serving of pasta is usually around 75g (dried) so you can see how this is possible.

With regards to your bloating, this may be nothing to do with the carbs themselves but could be a reaction to an ingredient within carbohydrate rich foods such as wheat or gluten. It might be worth speaking to your GP about this, as there may be tests or investigations that they can do to find out more.

I hope that this helps and please don't hesitate to get back in touch if you have any further questions.

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