Carbohydrates are crucial in bodybuilding. While you might have thought protein is an essential macronutrient for bodybuilders because of its muscle-building properties, carbs are equally vital. The primary purpose of carbs is to provide energy for your sessions. Carbs also support your muscles, central nervous system, kidneys, and brain. It is worth noting that high carb intake makes you sluggish and results in fat gain.
Conversely, consuming a few carbs causes sub-par workout performance and muscle loss. Knowing the calories, you should consume daily to lose, maintain, or gain weight is essential. The carbs you consume daily depends on your activity level, body size, genetics, and fitness goals. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest a 55% calorie intake from carbohydrates. Bodybuilders typically take 50% of calories from carbs, while low carb advocates go as far as 15%.
The main question you are asking yourself is how to measure your daily carb intake. Well, there are many ways to go about it. This article unpacks some of the best methods to count carbs for muscle gain or cut.
1. Using Nutritional Calculators
Any serious individual about their health keeps track of their nutrition, whether to train, improve their diet, or lose weight. One of the best ways to keep track of your nutrition is by using a nutrient value calculator. There are many calculators on the internet, and they all track the macronutrients and calories in the food you eat.
A nutrient value calculator helps you track your food intake. You get to look at and keep track of the nutritional label on most foods. Also, you get to look for nutritional information for foods without labels. You can use the information about your food to ensure you eat a balanced diet.
Some individuals note down their food information using pen and paper, yet that is time-consuming and requires much effort. Online calculators make your food tracking easier by storing the food trends in an account to look at previous recipes and see trends. You get to know the calories and macros you need to achieve your nutritional goals.
2. Using Labels
Using labels is a relatively straightforward approach with minimal calculations needed. In addition, you need different equipment depending on what food you want to measure. For instance, you need a pump with a built-in carb factor and a spoon to calculate the calories in a yogurt container.
Food labels have all the information you need for carb counting. Be sure that the serving size equals the serving on the label. You can also calculate on the amount basis that you are eating. For instance, you may want to eat an eight-ounce low-fat carton of yogurt. The label indicates that an 8-ounce serving has 18 grams of carbs. You will weigh your actual serving and use the information on the label to determine the carbs you take.
3. Cookbooks and Software
Nutritional books contain information about food eaten in restaurants and at home. They are an easy way to look at brand-name foods. Cookbooks and meal planning software with a food database provide carbohydrate information, making counting easier when preparing meals.
Software and healthy cookbooks list the carbs amount in a food serving. If the amount you eat differs from the serving, measure the actual serving and calculate to convert the serving into grams of the carbs taken.
4. Using a Scale
A scale is convenient for measuring foods that are odd-sized such as casseroles, unsliced bread, and fruits. You will need carb percentages, a scale, and a calculator. To get the carbohydrate amount in a food serving:
- Get the total weight of the food in grams. Remember, the entire food weight in grams is not the number of carbs in the food.
- Go to the food’s Appendix A to find the carb percentage.
- Multiply the total weight by the carb percentage.
- The result you get is the number of carbs the food contains.
5. The Harris-Benedict Formula
The is one of the methods used to determine your BMR (basal metabolic rate). BMR is the rate at which you convert calories into energy. The Harris-Benedict formula assists in weight loss by ensuring your intake of calories is below what you need to maintain weight.
The formula helps you describe your BMR as a numerical value. You determine your BMR by body size, age, and sex. With the information, you can determine the calories you burn.
6. Calculating Your AMR
Your active metabolic rate is calculated by multiplying BMR by a number representing the activity you take. The number ranges between 1.2 and 1.9, with the lowest value representing being sedentary and the highest representing a high activity level.
AMR will help you determine the calories you need to maintain your current weight. You can reduce your caloric intake or increase your activity to lose weight.
It is vital to keep track of your macronutrient intake when you are in the bodybuilding sport. While all the methods mentioned above are effective, a nutrient value calculator offers an easy way to measure your carb intake.
There are plenty of online calculators that make the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to get their calories under control. You will determine the calories you burn and keep checking your carb intake. As a result, you will have an easier time achieving your body goals.