About Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

Carbohydrates Sources & Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

Written by Dr. Shalini Aul, MBBS, DND | Article Reviewed by Dietitian julia samuel, M.Phil on Jul 18, 2018
Font : A-A+

Carbohydrates Sources & Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

Carbohydrates are the commonest source of energy in living organisms with glucose being the simplest and most easily absorbable source. Grains contain both complex and simple carbohydrates. Foods containing maximum simple sugars are fruits, sweets and soft drinks. Complex carbohydrates are present mainly in whole grains such as cereals, rice, potatoes, bran, beans, breads and pastas. The most complex carbohydrate is starch present in rice and potatoes.


Each carbohydrate unit of one gram comprises 15.8 kilojoules or 3.75 kilocalories. Proteins make up 16.8 kilojoules or four kilocalories per gram, while fats contain 37.8 kilojoules or 9 kilocalories per gram.

The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, jointly recommend the national dietary guidelines. They recommend that carbohydrates should give us 55 to 75 percent of the total energy requirements out of which only 10 percent should be directly from sugars or simpler carbohydrates.

A general recommendation of most dietary guidelines suggests that complex carbohydrates and simpler carbohydrates, which are “nutrition rich”, should make up the majority of carbohydrate consumption. Examples are fruits (glucose and fructose), milk, and milk products (lactose). The recommended foods do not include sugary drinks, added sugary high calorie foods and candies.

Similarly, foods high in glycemic index also need to be avoided since they are responsible for sudden increase in blood sugar which ultimately is converted to fat.


Glycemic index is the measurement used to detect how quickly food glucose is absorbed, while glycemic load is ascertained by the total absorbable glucose in foods.

Glycemic index and glycemic load is used to characterize food behavior during the process of digestion. They rank carbohydrate-rich foods based on the rapidity of their effect on blood glucose levels.

The insulin index is calculated by the effect of various foods, such as glucose or starch, and some amino acids in food, on blood insulin levels.

Grains and sugars that increase the insulin levels of the blood curb other essential hormones like glucagon and growth hormone. These two hormones play an important role in muscle development and the metabolism of fat and sugar.


Glycemic Index of Some Carbohydrate Foods:

White Bread69
Whole Wheat Bread72
Puffed Rice90
Shredded Wheat70
Brown Rice66
White Rice72
Mashed Potatoes72
Refined Sugar64
Corn chips72
Oatmeal cookies57
Potato chips56

A Note on Atkins Diet: Robert Atkins instituted the “Atkins Diet” and he is considered to be the father of modern “low carbohydrate diet”. According to him, carbohydrates should be restricted, especially carbohydrates which have a high glycemic index, if you would like to lose weight. This restriction of carbohydrates begins at the induction stage (start of the diet) itself and continues throughout. Dr. Anastassios Pittas, assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine says that “subjects on the low-carbohydrate diet had lost more weight than subjects on the conventional diet at three months”. However, the problem of obesity can reoccur once they get off this diet as people tend to re-gain the unwanted weight. However, in a systematic review of low-carbohydrate diets, Astrup and colleagues found that “the weight loss achieved is associated with the duration of the diet and restriction of energy intake, but not with restriction of carbohydrates”.


  1. Lanfer A, Hebestreit A, Ahrens W. Diet and eating habits in relation to the development of obesity in children and adolescents - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20631972)
  2. Guerreiro S, Alçada M, Azevedo I. Sugary drinks and glycemia - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20687984)
  3. Astrup A, Meinert Larsen T, Harper A. Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets: hoax or an effective tool for weight loss? Lancet. 2004;364(9437):897–899. [PubMed]
  4. Wurtman RJ, Wurtman JJ. Brain serotonin, carbohydrate-craving, obesity and depression. Obes Res. 1995 Nov;3 Suppl 4:477S-480S - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8697046)
  5. van Dam RM, Seidell JC Carbohydrate intake and obesity. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;61 Suppl 1:S75-99 - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17992188)
  6. Drewnowski A, Kurth C, Holden-Wiltse J, Saari J. Food preferences in human obesity: carbohydrates versus fats - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1510463)
  7. Foster GD, Wyatt HR, Hill JO, McGuckin BG, Brill C, Mohammed BS, Szapary PO, Rader DJ, Edman JS, Klein S A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity.
  8. Crapo, P. A., Reaven, G., Olefsky, J. (1976) Plasma glucose and insulin responses to orally administered simple and complex carbohydrates. Diabetes 25: 741–747.
  9. Jenkins, D. J., Wolever, T. M., Taylor, R. H., et al (1981) Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange. Am J Clin Nutr. 34: 361–366.
  10. Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation (1998) Carbohydrates in human nutrition (FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 66) FAO Rome, Italy.
  11. Bell, S. J., Sears, BS. (2003) A proposal for a new national diet: a low-glycemic load diet with a unique macronutrient composition. Metab Syndrome Rel Disord. 1: 199–208.
  12. Bell, S. J., Sears, B. (2003) Low-glycemic-load diets: impact on obesity and chronic diseases. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 43: 357–377. | Article | PubMed | ISI |
  13. Brand-Miller, J. C., Holt, S. H. A., Pawlak, D. B., McMillan, J. (2002) Glycemic index and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 76(suppl): 281S–285S. | PubMed | ISI | ChemPort |
  14. Sandrou, D. K., Arvanitoyannis, IS. (2000) Low-fat/calorie foods: current state and perspectives. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutrition. 40: 427–447.
  15. Ludwig DS. The glycemic index - Physiological mechanisms relating to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. JAMA 2002; 287: 2414-2423
  16. Ludwig DS. The glycemic index - Physiological mechanisms relating to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. JAMA 2002; 287: 2414-2423
  17. Das SK, Saltzman E, Gilhooly CH, DeLany JP, Golden JK, Pittas AG, Dallal GE, Bhapkar MV, Fuss PJ, Dutta C, McCrory MA, Roberts SB. Low or moderate dietary energy restriction for long-term weight loss: what works best?Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Nov;17(11):2019-24. Epub 2009 Apr 23.
  18. Atkins, Robert (2003-09-25). Dr. Atkins'' New Diet Revolution, Revised Edition. .Evans. ISBN 978-1590770023.

Citations   close

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Dr. Shalini Aul. (2018, July 18). Carbohydrates Sources & Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Medindia. Retrieved on May 20, 2022 from https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/carbohydrates-and-its-role-in-obesity-sources-and-rda.htm.

  • MLA

    Dr. Shalini Aul. "Carbohydrates Sources & Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)". Medindia. May 20, 2022. <https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/carbohydrates-and-its-role-in-obesity-sources-and-rda.htm>.

  • Chicago

    Dr. Shalini Aul. "Carbohydrates Sources & Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/carbohydrates-and-its-role-in-obesity-sources-and-rda.htm. (accessed May 20, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Dr. Shalini Aul. 2021. Carbohydrates Sources & Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Medindia, viewed May 20, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/carbohydrates-and-its-role-in-obesity-sources-and-rda.htm.

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.

Health Topics A - Z

    What's New on Medindia
    Prevent Hacking of Medical Devices: FDA Sounds Alarm
    Black Water: Benefits and Uses
    World Hypertension Day 2022 - Measure Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer!
    View all

    Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

    Most Popular on Medindia

    Blood Pressure Calculator Blood - Sugar Chart Calculate Ideal Weight for Infants Sinopril (2mg) (Lacidipine) Noscaphene (Noscapine) Diaphragmatic Hernia Indian Medical Journals How to Reduce School Bag Weight - Simple Tips Hearing Loss Calculator Vent Forte (Theophylline)

    Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

    © All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2022

    This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use