Finding the carbohydrates you need

The most important sources of carbohydrates are plant foods — fruits, vegetables, and grains. Milk and milk products contain the carbohydrate lactose (milk sugar), but meat, fish, and poultry have no carbohydrates at all.

In the fall of 2002, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report recommending that 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories come from carbohydrate foods. The Food Guide Pyramid (see more about that in Chapter 17) makes it easy for you to build a nutritious carb-based diet with portion allowances based on how many calories you consume each day in l 6 to 11 servings of grain foods (bread, cereals, pasta, rice), plus l 2 to 4 servings of fruit and l 3 to 5 servings of vegetables

These foods provide simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, and the natural bonus of dietary fiber. Table sugar, honey, and sweets — which provide simple carbohydrates — are recommended only on a once-in-a-while basis.

One gram of carbohydrates has four calories. To find the number of calories from the carbohydrates in a serving, multiply the number of grams of carbohydrates by four. For example, one whole bagel has about 38 grams of carbohydrates, equal to about 152 calories (38 x 4). (You have to say "about" because the dietary fiber in the bagel provides no calories, because the body can't metabolize it.) Wait: That number does not account for all the calories in the serving. Remember, the foods listed here may also contain at least some protein and fat, and these two nutrients add calories.

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