Loading... Please wait...

Setting Reasonable Limits: How much carbohydrate can you eat and lose weight?


While protein intake varies with size and physical demand, carbohydrate intake is a function of metabolic fitness, regardless of size or (except at very high levels) activity. In people who are overweight or who have weight related metabolic conditions they are working to resolve, to set the metabolic stage for weight loss, in our experience, incoming carbohydrate (starch and sugar) should be restricted to keep blood sugar and insulin controlled. Only then can fat loss and metabolic healing take place.

The total effective carbohydrate intake (total carbohydrate grams in the serving of food minus fiber grams) should not exceed 15 grams per meal, in each of three meals per day during weight loss.

  • This daily carbohydrate total should come (individually or in combinations) ideally from such low starch vegetables and low sugar fruits as:

artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, celery root, chard, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, onions, peppers, plums, scallions, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, turnip greens, zucchini.

As a ballpark, about 1/2 cup of any two of these sources will fit within the 15 gram per meal carbohydrate limit.

  • Be more careful with denser, sweeter or starchier sources of fruits and vegetables.  They are permitted, but only in amounts within the 15 effective gram total limit per meal during weight loss, which means a much smaller serving (about 1/4 cup) of higher sugar fruits such as:

apples, bananas, guavas, mangos, papayas, peaches, pineapples, dried beans, carrots, field peas, potatoes, turnips, yams

  • Be very careful with concentrated starches. Only very tiny portions of grains (and things made from them) will fit within this restriction of 15 grams, making them problematic during weight loss as the temptation will be to eat a much larger serving that what would be allowed within this limit. (You should consult a carbohydrate gram counter to determine appropriate serving sizes of these foods.)

We've done some of the work for you to get you going; check out these typical bundles of carbohydrate-containing foods that would fall within the 15-gram limit. This will offer plenty of variety to get you started and there’s something there for nearly every taste. Armed with a good carbohydrate gram counter, you will soon be making many more bundles of your own with low-starch and low-sugar foods you enjoy.