BuzzFeed Life consulted two experts for this story: Dr. Holly Lofton, director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, CSCS, director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition.
1. First let's talk about what carbs actually are.
2. You should eat carbs (and be wary of advice to avoid to them).
3. If you're interested in weight management, have most of your carbs earlier in the day.
4. And if you exercise, time your carbs around your workouts for optimal energy.
5. There are two kinds of carbs: simple and complex.
6. Carbohydrates should make up about half of your daily calories.
7. And most of those should be complex carbs.
8. Identify complex carbs by checking the label for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
9. The other super-important thing to know about carbs is how processed they are.
10. To determine just how processed something is, simply look at the label.
11. Beware of anything that is "enriched" with fiber and vitamins.
12. If you don't want to deal with running the numbers when it comes to carbs and fiber, you can guesstimate.
St. Pierre explains Precision Nutrition's approach to explaining portions, and it's pretty damn simple: Measure your carb intake with your cupped hand. Basically, men should have two cupped-hand sized portion of carbs with most meals and women should have one. The cupped-hand method is convenient in its portability and its validity — larger people, whose energy needs will probably be higher, have bigger hands, so their cupped portions will be bigger.
Of course everyone's needs are different — a small percentage of people function well with less or more carbs — and will vary based on a bunch of factors.