Use this carb calculator to easily calculate your daily carbohydrate intake, based on the desired proportion of your overall diet. Estimate carbs in diet to lose weight, maintain or gain weight.
* where the calculator states "calories" it is actually "kCal", or kilocalories. Common usage, however, shortened "kilocalories" to "calories" so we are adhering to that convention.
How to use the carbs calculator?
This carbohydrates calculator uses an estimate of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and based on it calculates how much carbohydrates (carbs) you have to east in ounces or grams (and calories), according to your preferred percentage of carbs from your overall food intake.
The information our online carb intake calculator requires consists of your age, gender, height, weight and level of physical activity. We use scientific studies and well-established formulas to arrive at a fairly accurate estimate of your total daily energy needs. At this point the last thing you need to input is the percentage of total calories you want to derive from carbs. For reference, you can check a list of carbs in common diets below. When you click "Calculate" the carbohydrate intake calculator will show you the amount (in ounces or grams) and caloric equivalent of the carbs you need to eat on a daily basis. Using this information, you can better determine your diet. For those wanting to lose or gain weight, we provide guidance on the approximate amount of reduction or increase in carb intake that would be needed.
What are carbs?
Carbohydrates, or carbs are a building block of all living cells in the human body and most of dietary carbs come from plants - fruits and vegetables. A major subset are the monosaccharides, which come from fructose and glucose and are used directly by cells for energy. When not used, they are stored as glycogen in the muscle fibers and the liver, or converted to fats for longer-term storage. Monosaccharides also participate in the synthesis of non-essential amino acids (amino acids the body can produce itself).
Disaccharides are another type of simple sugar and all of them contain glucose as a principal component. The three macros of this type of nutritional value are sucrose (glucose + fructose), which occurs in beet sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, bee honey and maple syrup. Lactose is found naturally in milk and therefore often called "milk sugar". Maltose is found in beer, cereals and germinating seeds.
Finally, there are polysaccharides which include starch and fiber. Starch is consumed through bread, cereal, spaghetti and pastries, as well as beans, peas, potatoes. Fiber is found in foods containing plant leaves, stems, roots and seeds. The recommended daily fiber intake is 38 g for men and 25 g for women up to age 50, and 30 g for men and 21 g for women older than 50. If the diet you specify is low-carb, make sure it still includes the required amounts of fiber.
Carbohydrates are a key macronutrient. They are an excellent energy source in the form of bloodborne glucose and muscle glycogen, and especially for high-intensity physical efforts. Having enough carbs also spares protein in your tissues, which is otherwise used as an energy source during prolonged exercise or series of intense training sessions. Carbohydrates are also a "primer" in the body's utilization of fat to produce energy, which is why you sometimes hear that fat burns in a carb flame. Without enough carbs you may not be able to burn fats as efficiently, which is yet another reason to use a carbs calculator to estimate your recommended daily carb intake.
Carbs are also used by the central nervous system, with the liver serving as regulator of normal blood glucose levels. If you train hard and long, glucose in the blood drops below normal levels leading to hypoglycemia. Symptoms of its moderate form include weakness, hunger, dizziness, and neurologic fatigue and can be alleviated if you stop the effort and by consumption of carbohydrates. Starvation has the same initial symptoms.
Foods with high carbohydrate content
As with any other macronutrient, different food contains different proportions of carbohydrates. Here are some whole foods with high carbs content:
|Whole food||Carbohydrates (%)|
|Apple Jacks cereal||90%|
|Sugar Corn Pops cereal||90%|
|Onion, dehydrated flakes||83%|
|Bread sticks, no salt||75%|
Carbohydrate content varies between foods, but foods containing sugar and flour top the list. Pizza is heavy on carbohydrates, but depending on the toppings and cheese used it can be rich in fats as well. Vegetables and fruit are low on the list due their high water content, but are otherwise excellent sources of carbs. Eating dry fruit such as dry grapes is an excellent way to increase your carb intake.
How much carbs do you need? Recommended carbohydrate intake
Eating enough carbs as a part of your overall daily diet is important. Typically, 40-55% of a person's diet consist of carbohydrates in one form or another, which is about 300 grams (10 ounces) daily for an average 70 kg (154 lbs) person. Using our carbs calculator, you can easily estimate the amount of carbohydrates required by you.
For more physically active people 60% of daily calories is the recommended proportion of carbs. During periods of intense training the percentage can be as high as 70%. This is because carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that can provide large amounts of energy using the anaerobic metabolic process. This is why during intense aerobic exercise glycogen stored in the muscles is the preferred body fuel.
You should avoid consuming carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (that are rapidly absorbed) too frequently or in excess, as it may alter your metabolic profile. This carries an increased risk of type II diabetes, and coronary heart disease, especially if you are obese (see BMI).
Not all carbs are equal, with those having a higher glycemic index (usually low in fiber content) posing more long-term health risks. Slow release carbs should be preferred, and carbohydrates should be consumed in foods rich in fats (lipids) when possible, as they slow digestion and minimize surges in blood glucose levels, resulting in lower insulin demand. Make sure that the percentage of carbohydrates in your macro mix is adequate as our tool makes no recommendations either way.
Carbohydrates in common diets
Our calculator allows you to specify any percentage of carbohydrates from your total daily calories. Here are some references from popular diets that can be useful as reference.
Obesity and carbohydrate intake
There is a link between weight gains and excessive insulin production as a response to rapid carbs. In such cases glucose oxidation takes place at the expense of fatty acid oxidation, and it also stimulates fat storage in adipose tissue. Alternating between high and low blood sugar levels is especially dangerous for sedentary obese people. Physical activity is highly recommended, as even low-to-moderate one can improve insulin sensitivity, stimulates fatty acid oxidation and results in weight loss.
Drastically reducing the amount of carbs in your diet is not recommended, and you should consult a nutritionist or physician who is familiar with your health condition and medical history, before significant dietary interventions. Note that our carbohydrates intake calculator does not make any recommendations for the portion of carbohydrates in your dietary mix, it only estimates the calories you need to consume in carbs in different scenarios.
Cite this calculator & page
If you'd like to cite this online calculator resource and information as provided on the page, you can use the following citation:
Georgiev G.Z., "Carb Calculator", [online] Available at: https://www.gigacalculator.com/calculators/carbohydrate-calculator.php URL [Accessed Date: 07 Mar, 2021].