Carbohydrates: How To Calculate How Much You Need

What Are Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates main graphic

Carbohydrates are biomolecules that contain Hydrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen atoms. Carbohydrates are also classified as a macronutrient along with fats and protein.

Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

There are many different classifications for carbohydrates. The most common ones are simple, complex.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simply Carbohydrates can be summed up in one word “SUGAR”. Simple Carbohydrates include disaccharides and monosaccharides.


Monosaccharides are carbohydrates with one sugar unit. There are two monosaccharides that are found in foods; glucose, fructose.

Glucose (also known as; Dextrose, Grape Sugar): Commonly found in fruit, honey, sweet corn, and corn syrup

Fructose (also known as; Laevulose, Fruit Sugar): occurs freely as part of sucrose in honey and fruit.


Disaccharides are carbohydrates with two sugar units. Disaccharides include; sucrose, lactose, and maltose.

Sucrose is a naturally occurring sugar that can be found in plants.

Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar that can be found in milk products.

Maltose (also known as Malt Sugar or Maltobiose), is a product of the hydrolyzed starch.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables.

There are two main types of complex carbohydrates are Polysaccharides and Oligosaccharides.


Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates that have 10 more monosaccharides molecules linked together.

Starch (also known as amylum), is a complex polysaccharide naturally found in plants, and grains.

Glycogen is a complex carbohydrate that occurs only in animals, the form in which glucose is stored in the body.


Oligosaccharides are complex carbohydrates containing 3-10 sugar units.

How To Calculate How Much Carbohydrates You Need

To calculate your carbohydrate needs, you first need to know your daily caloric needs.

To calculate your daily caloric needs here is a great Calorie Calculator.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 45-65 percent of your daily caloric intake be carbohydrates. Therefore take your daily caloric needs and multiply that number by 45%. I recommend consulting with a nutritionist to find out what macronutrient split works best for you and your lifestyle.

Generally, If you are more active, especially in endurance activities and sports then your intake should be at the higher percentile.

Ensure you are placing emphasis on intaking complex carbohydrates over simple carbs.

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