What does 50g of carbs look like?
Carbohydrates play a crucial role in our diets, providing the body with much-needed energy and essential nutrients. However, understanding what 50g of carbohydrates actually looks like can be challenging, especially given the abundance of food choices available. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at various food sources that make up 50g of carbohydrates, and explore the significance of knowing your carb intake.
Whether you're aiming for better weight management, improved athletic performance, or enhanced overall health, gaining a clear understanding of your carbohydrate consumption is essential. By learning how to visualize 50g of carbohydrates and recognizing how different food sources contribute to your daily carb intake, you can make more informed dietary choices that support your individual goals and preferences. Join us as we dive into the world of carbohydrates and discover the key to unlocking a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.
Why understanding your carbohydrates can help with your goals
Understanding your carbohydrate intake can significantly help you achieve your health and fitness goals for several reasons:
Energy management: Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy for any high intensity exercise. Knowing the types and amounts of carbohydrates you consume can help you manage your energy levels throughout the day, fuelling workouts and aiding recovery.
Weight management: Carbohydrate intake can impact your weight goals. Eating the right amount and type of carbohydrates can help you maintain, lose, or gain weight, depending on your goals.
Nutrient balance: Different carbohydrate sources contain varying amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. By understanding and selecting nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources, you can improve your overall nutrient intake and support optimal health.
Performance optimisation: Athletes and physically active individuals can benefit from understanding their carbohydrate needs to fuel performance and enhance recovery. Consuming appropriate carbohydrates before, during, and after exercise can support optimal training and competition outcomes.
Satiety and appetite control: Different carbohydrate sources have varying effects on satiety and appetite. Understanding how carbohydrates affect your hunger levels can help you make informed choices, prevent overeating, and support weight management.
Digestive health: Some carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are rich in fibre. Consuming an adequate amount of fibre can promote digestive health and prevent constipation, while also reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases.
Personalised diet plan: Understanding your carbohydrate needs can help you create a personalised meal plan that supports your goals and preferences, leading to better adherence and long-term success.
Is 50g of carbohydrates the right portion?
For many individuals, 50g of carbohydrates can be considered as a rough estimate for a single carbohydrate portion in a meal. However, the actual carbohydrate requirements for an individual may vary depending on factors such as age, gender, weight, activity level, and specific health goals.
For example, a physically active person or an athlete may require more carbohydrates in their meals to support their energy needs and optimise performance. In contrast, someone following a low-carb or ketogenic diet may consume fewer carbohydrates per meal to achieve their weight loss or health goals.
It's essential to personalise your carbohydrate intake according to your needs, goals, and preferences. Consulting with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you determine the appropriate amount of carbohydrates for your specific situation.
50 grams of carbohydrates can come from various food sources, and the amount of each food required to reach that value will differ. Here are some examples of what 50g of carbohydrates might look like in different foods:
White rice: Approximately 150g of cooked white rice contains around 50g of carbohydrates.
Whole wheat pasta: About 100g of cooked whole wheat pasta provides around 50g of carbohydrates.
Bread: Around 2 to 3 slices of white or whole wheat bread typically contain around 50g of carbohydrates.
Oats: Approximately 50g of dry oats (about 1/2 cup) provides around 50g of carbohydrates.
Fruits: Consuming around 2 medium-sized bananas or 3 medium-sized apples can give you close to 50g of carbohydrates.
Starchy vegetables: Eating around 250g of cooked sweet potatoes or 330g of cooked white potatoes provides around 50g of carbohydrates.
Quinoa: Around 185g of cooked quinoa contains around 50g of carbohydrates.
Couscous: Approximately 160g of cooked couscous provides around 50g of carbohydrates.
Breakfast cereal: About 1 to 1.5 cups of breakfast cereal (depending on the type) typically contains around 50g of carbohydrates.
Legumes: Consuming around 225g of cooked chickpeas or 175g of cooked lentils can give you close to 50g of carbohydrates.
Popcorn: Approximately 80g of air-popped popcorn provides around 50g of carbohydrates.
Crackers: Around 50g to 60g of crackers (depending on the type) typically contain around 50g of carbohydrates.
Pretzels: Eating around 50g to 60g of pretzels can give you close to 50g of carbohydrates.
Rice cakes: Consuming around 5 to 6 plain rice cakes provides around 50g of carbohydrates.
Corn: Eating around 290g of cooked sweet corn (about 2 cups) provides around 50g of carbohydrates.
Granola: Approximately 60g to 70g of granola (depending on the ingredients) contains around 50g of carbohydrates.
How many carbohydrates should I be eating?
With so much information surrounding carbohydrates, it can be challenging to understand how many carbohydrates you should be eating.
Unfortunately, there's no easy, single answer.
Your type of exercise and training, goals and preference will all dictate your carbohydrate needs. Adequate carbohydrates are needed to perform well when training at a high intensity, moderate to high volume for sessions shorter than 2 hours. For low intensity and low volume sessions, they are not quite as important. See low carbohydrate training for athlete. Preference will also play a part, so don't feel the need to cut carbs if you enjoy them.
Totals matter more
Your overall carbohydrate intake for the day considerably outweighs the importance of timing. That is why your personal preference and your work/social schedule should form the basis of when you eat and how many meals you eat per day.
OK, but how many?
I like to start with a macro split of: -
3g per kg of target bodyweight of carbohydrates per day
2g per kg of target bodyweight of protein per day
1g per kg of target bodyweight fat per day
Your goal and training will then dictate how I would adjust these figures. For weight loss, I could reduce fat and or carbohydrates. Depending on the activity, I would change your carbohydrates too. Endurance athletes will need more than strength sport athletes.
To help calculate your overall carbohydrate requirements for the day
Fuelling your workouts
If your session lasts less than 60mins, you won't warrant any acute fuelling strategy, where your overall carbohydrate totals for the day will be enough. However, to maximise performance, a good starting point is to aim for 1gram per kg of target bodyweight (g.kg.tbw) before exercising.
If your target body weight is 80kg, multiply your 80 x 1 to give your pre-workout carbohydrate totals = 80g of carbohydrates.
Again, the session's type (intensity vs length) and the goal will factor in how many carbohydrates you consume after your session. I recommend that you have another 1g.kg.tbw serving of carbohydrates after you exercise, especially if you are training again within 12hrs. If your goal is weight loss and you don't have many carbohydrates to play with, you may need to reduce this number to fit in with your overall carbohydrate totals.
See more about the Box Nutrition's 4 R's of Recovery here.
Once you have ticked off your fuelling and recovery needs, you can then split up your remaining carbohydrates' across your main meals and snacks.
But what does a portion look like? What does 50g or 80g of carbohydrates look like?
The best way to understand portion sizes is to track your food on an app like MyFitnessPal. You don't need to track forever; however, tracking your carbohydrates will quickly highlight how big your portions should be. I find using measuring cups and kitchen scales the easiest and quickest way to do this.
Let's say you need 50g of carbohydrates before you exercise. We can establish that 1/2 a cup of dry pasta or 75g gives you 50g of carbohydrates from tracking. Once you know this, you're not going to need to track again!
I appreciate this does take a little time and practice, but if you're looking to become more intuitive with what you eat, tracking is one of the best ways to help you do this.
Below are a few familiar sources to highlight what 50g of carbohydrates looks like. Then all you need to do is adjust the portion size to suit the number you've worked out.
Nutrition is a fluid subject where your progress, energy levels and performance will dictate if you need to adjust your carbohydrate portions moving forward, so stay flexible and be ready to make any changes where necessary.