How many carbs vegetarians and meat eaters should really eat?

HEALTH

Carbs have been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism in recent years, with many people wrongly believing that eating them is an unhealthy course of action. However, a major study conducted in the US has found that following a low carbohydrate diet can drastically reduce your lifespan, particularly if you’re substituting carbohydrates for meat and dairy products. So, what does ‘low carb’ actually mean, how does a low carb diet actually affect your wellbeing if you’re a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan and how many carbs should you actually be eating? Low carb diets shorten your life ‘unless you are mostly vegetarian.’

According to Kirsty Bamping, registered dietitian and media spokesperson for The British Dietetic Association, carbohydrates are a necessary component in all people’s diets, regardless of whether they eat meat or not. “The government’s healthy eating advice recommends that just over a third of your diet should be made up of starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta, and another third should be fruit and vegetables,” Bamping says. “This means that over half of your daily calorie intake should come from starchy foods, fruit and vegetables. This applies whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan.” The NHS recommends that individuals eat at least 260g of carbohydrates a day.

However, according to Perfect Keto, a website that promotes the controversial ketogenic diet, a person following the low carb keto diet would usually attribute five per cent of their daily calorie intake to carbohydrates, which can lead to a daily carb intake of 20 or 40g. This is evidently far less than the daily carb intake recommended by the NHS. Bamping explains that carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy as part of a nutritious, balanced diet, as they’re broken down into glucose when eaten before being absorbed into the bloodstream.

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