The Very Latest Science on the Powers of Carbs

Carbohydrates aren’t evil. They’re essential.

Consuming the right amount of the right kind of carbs can help improve your athletic performance, exercise recovery, and body composition (meaning you look goooood). Also know that there’s nothing magical about carbs (or insulin) that causes excess fat gain or hunger.

We digested the past 25 years of nutrition knowledge, talked to the smartest experts about the latest science, and sorted through a lot of nutrition B.S.—all to provide you with the most up-to-date information about carbohydrates right now.

How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need?

Try for six to eight cupped handfuls of quality carbs every day. What are “quality” carbs? Fruits, legumes, whole grains, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Basically, anything vegetal you can pull out of the ground or pluck from a tree.

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Research shows you should eat six to ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day to help fight disease and maintain a healthy weight.

Within the larger picture of your daily diet, that means you’ll want to consume 4- percent of your daily 2,600 calories from carbs, ideally those high in fiber.

Wait, So Fruits and Vegetables Are Carbohydrates? Are There Other Types of Carbs Too?

Ohhhhh, yeah. Check this out.

Men’s Health

Wait, the Sugar in Fruit—Is That Bad for Me?

No, don’t stop eating fruit. You’d have to eat four apples in order to ingest roughly the same amount of sugar as in one large Coke. Plus, fruit has vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

—Mike Roussell, Ph.D., Men’s Health Nutrition Advisor

So How Do You Eat More Quality Carbohydrates?

Your strategy: Spread out the produce over the course of the day. For example…

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Breakfast: Bowl of Greek yogurt topped with ½ cup blueberries and 1 sliced banana (2 servings)

Midmorning Snack: 1 pear, 1 apple, or 2 clementines (1 serving)

Lunch: Salad with 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes and 1/4 cup cubed roasted sweet potatoes (3 servings)

Midafternoon Snack: Handful of nuts or seeds and 2 large carrots (2 servings)

Dinner: Protein plus ½ cup cooked quinoa, farro, or brown rice with a double portion of sautéed greens (2 servings)

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