While some diets may paint carbs as the enemy, this isn't the case. You need a certain amount of carbs each day to provide you with energy. Your brain and nervous system rely on carbs as their main energy source, so without them you may feel tired and cranky. Both carrots and lettuce contain some carbs.
Aim to get 40 to 60 percent of your calories from carbs. If you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, this means 200 to 300 grams of carbs or 800 to 1,200 calories per day from carbs. A 1-cup serving of chopped carrots contains about 12 grams of carbs, providing 48 of the 52 calories in the serving, and the same-size serving of shredded green leaf lettuce contains 1 gram of carbs, which provide 4 out of 5 calories.
Carbs by Weight
Although most of the calories in carrots and lettuce come from carbs, these veggies are actually made up of only a small percentage of carbs by weight. Green leaf lettuce consists of about 95 percent water, 3 percent carbs, 1 percent protein and trace amounts of fat, and carrots consist of 88 percent water, 10 percent carbs, 1 percent protein and trace amounts of fat. When you eat these foods, you are mainly consuming water.
Type of Carbs
Some types of carbs are healthier than others. The three main types of carbs are fiber, starch and sugar. Fiber is particularly beneficial, potentially lowering your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, constipation, diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. Try to consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day. Each serving of green leaf lettuce provides 0.5 grams of fiber, along with 0.3 grams of sugar, and each serving of carrots provides 3.6 grams of fiber as well as 6 grams of sugar and 1.8 grams of starch.
Vegetables are one of the healthiest sources of carbs since they tend to be low in calories and high in fiber. Avoid eating foods that contain a lot of refined grains or added sugars, since these are the more unhealthy sources of carbs, providing calories without necessarily providing a lot of nutrients. Choose whole grains, fruits and vegetables most often when eating carbs.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.