How many calories are in one gram of carbohydrate? Calories are the fuel for the body, and you can get them with protein, carbohydrate or fat. Every day your body uses and burns a certain amount of energy from the food that you consume throughout the day. The more active you are; the more calories you burn.
Carbohydrates are the macronutrient groups that we eat the most. Pasta, rice, bread, pizza, vegetables, sweets, etc. are all carbohydrates that we consume usually in every meal. If you are on a diet; you wonder how many calories a gram of carbohydrate has.
How Many Calories are in One Gram of Carbohydrate?
More lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn, remember this. The more intensively you workout, the more calories you will need. Logical right? These are factors that you should count in when planning a calorie intake. As we have already said, calories come from proteins, carbohydrates and fats. One gram of protein contains 4 calories, a gram of carbohydrate also contains 4 calories, and one gram of fat contains 9 calories.
You can see that carbohydrates have the same caloric value per gram as proteins. But you should know that different kinds of carbohydrates have also different caloric amount. We will show you types of carbohydrates and their caloric values.
The Importance of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the main fuel for optimal functioning of our body, and the most important nutrients for the muscle activity. Sufficient amount of carbohydrates is not only essential for the functioning of muscles, but also for the central nervous system.
The primary function of carbohydrates is:
- They serve as the primary source for muscle work;
- They are the only source of energy for anaerobic metabolism (metabolism without oxygen present), and the only energy source for red blood cells in the blood (red corpuscles);
- they ensures the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system;
- they provide an external protection of the cells;
- It helps the body to efficiently use the fat …
The major part of carbohydrate is used for the consumption for the muscle functioning in the form of glycogen. Some physical systems are tied exclusively to the carbohydrate metabolism, so it is necessary to restore glycogen for a normal body functioning. The lack of carbohydrates is even more noticeable in physically active people as fatigue. The daily requirement of carbohydrates varies between 60 to 130 grams.
If you eat a higher amount of carbohydrates; you will increase the formation of saturated fatty acids. They are stored in adipose tissue, and thus contribute to the creation of additional fat.
What Happens if You Lack Carbohydrates?
If you have insufficiency of carbohydrates; your skeletal muscle, liver and heart will use fatty acids as a fuel. This increases the decomposition of fatty acids, leading to the formation of ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are produced in the liver and travels with the blood.
The brain cells begin to use these ketone bodies to get energy due to a lack of glucose (brain can’t function in the complete absence of glucose). This lack of ketone bodies can lead to physiological disorders such as dehydration, problems with concentration, disturbance of electrolyte balance in the body, bad breath, kidney stress, etc. In addition, the uncontrolled degradation of muscle protein occurs.
Which Carbohydrates Should You Choose?
Carbohydrates are an important link in the food pyramid, and it is important to choose the right ones. Therefore, we must be able to distinguish between good and bad carbohydrates. Good carbohydrates should take up about 40 % of the daily food intake. Include them in your meals mainly in the morning and till the noon. Replace them with protein and vegetables in the end of the day.
Natural unprocessed foods and foods that aren’t processed industrially are made up of good carbohydrates. Therefore, you should include them in the nutrition every day. Such foods have a low glycemic index, which means that satisfy us for a long time. Moreover, the body burns these foods quicker, which prevents the accumulation of fat reserves. We recommend that you include next carbohydrates in the nutrition:
- brown rice,
- sweet potatoes,
- whole-wheat pasta,
- whole grain rye bread,
- vegetables, such as fresh peas, carrots, eggplant, soybeans, zucchini, onions, green vegetables, cabbage, tomatoes, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
- fruits such as apricots and pears
Bad carbohydrates food has a high glycemic index. These are so-called modern, industrially processed foods, artificial food preparations, chemically derived concentrates (corn syrup, processed starches) and genetically modified food.
They will satisfy you for a short time, and the body will accumulate the unused calories as the body fat. Foods that you should avoid are:
- savory snacks (potato chips, popcorn, salt sticks, …) and sweet biscuits, chocolate bar, cakes from one dough and similar,
- pre-cooked and industrial food (lunch reheated in the microwave)
- sweet carbonated drinks, beer, and spirits,
- fried, baked or boiled potatoes,
- sweetened and processed corn flakes,
- sugar and sweets,
- raisins, bananas, melons, watermelons (allowed in small quantities in the morning)
- corn, pumpkins
- long grain rice,
- pasta flour noodles, ravioli
Watch out for the High Glycemic Index
How many calories are in one gram of carbohydrate? One gram of carbohydrate has 4 kcal. But you should take care of calorie intake, and also on glycemic index of the food. Many carbohydrates have high glycemic index that will rise your blood sugar and cause fat deposits. We did a list of foods with low, medium and high glycemic index. Choose low glycemic index foods (<55) to stay healthy and fit. Also avoid white grain products.
A List of Glycemic Index of Foods
Low GI <55
Medium GI 55 – 79
High GI 79>
plums (53), fruit muesli (67), white bread (95)
oranges, berries (40), pineapple (66), wheat (90)
barley (27) Dates (62), boiled rice (89)
grapefruit and cashew nuts (25), bananas (58), sucrose (82) peanuts (13), apricots (57), watermelon (80)