Nutrition FAQ #5 – Should I Cut Out All Carbohydrates to Lose Weight?

By Michelle Donovan, MS, RD, LDN, ACSM-CPT

As a registered, licensed dietitian and American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, I have gotten a lot of questions over the years and there’s a good chance that you may be curious about some of these as well. In this ten-part series, I’ll address the questions I have received the most over my almost 30 years in the field of nutrition and wellness.

I would be willing to bet that either you have been on a Low Carb diet at some point, or know someone who has. Just walk down an aisle at the grocery store and you will see a Low Carb option of something. So the question is, do you really need to avoid carbs to lose weight?

Should I cut out all carbohydrates to lose weight?

These days, it seems like everyone is trying to manipulate their intake of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein). However, removing all carbohydrates is not the answer. Carbohydrates are present in just about all foods that we eat: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and plant-based protein sources. Really, the only place you will not find it is in animal protein sources.

So, what is the deal with carbs? Eat less of them. Most people have too many servings of carbohydrates and that is how we get in trouble with carbs. We measure grain servings in ounces, weight not volume. This sometimes makes it difficult to figure out how much you should be eating. Most people need somewhere between 5 and 8 ounces a day.

Wondering what an ounce of grain looks like? A plain Panera bagel is 280 calories and about 3.5 ounces of grains. That can be more than or almost half of what you need in an entire day. If you like spaghetti, 1 ounce is a ½ cup.

It is not about cutting out all carbohydrates, it is about eating the right kind of carbohydrates – whole grains, fruits, vegetables – and watching our portion sizes.

Michelle Donovan, MS, RD, LDN, ACSM-CPT
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