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Ask the Dietitian is not a substitute for a consultation with a professional who can inform you of all the facts of your particular situation. We answer questions in general terms only, to give you information that may used as a starting point.
TOPIC - Dietary Allowances
Question
How much carbohydrates are we allowed in one day?
Answer
The Singapore Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Adults specifies 250 - 350 grams of carbohydrate per day depending on your calorie intake. It should be about 55-60% of your total calories and complex carbohydrates (such as cereal grains, potatoes, legumes, starchy vegetables) are recommended.
Question
Does taking a bit less of RDA e.g 70% over a long period have very harmful effects?
Answer
The RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowances levels for each nutrient are meant to meet the needs of 98% of the population. A few people need more than the recommended levels, most people need less. However, since you do not know where you are the range, it is recommended that you aim to meet the RDA levels over time (not necessarily everyday). The RDA committees state that "....there is little evidence that small surpluses of nutrients are detrimental, whereas consistent uncompensated deficits, even small ones, over a long period of time can lead to deficiencies". Thus if you consistently fall below the recommended levels, you may find yourself deficient in some nutrients over time especially ones that turn over quickly like iron, calcium, and thiamin. I would suggest trying to get your average intake levels up closer to 80-90%.
Question
How much carbohydrates should a young female adult take per day? How much carbohydrates can one have to refrain from putting on weight?
Answer
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) provides guidelines for the average daily intakes of nutrients over a period of time for the majority of the adult population. It includes guidelines for the amount of carbohydrate for the different age groups. Note, however, that the amounts given are only rough estimates, they are not absolute daily dietary requirements. It is your average intake over a period of time that is important, thus it is not a problem if you are below or above that amount on any particular day. Also the amount recommended is intended for the overall population; your individual requirement may be different and will vary depending on your physical activity and body needs.

The amount of carbohydrate you eat is not the only determinant of weight gain. Many other factors affect weight gain such as how active you are, your total daily calorie intake, your metabolic rate, etc. If you are concerned about gaining weight, make an appointment with a dietitian for a full nutritional assessment at your nearest hospital.
Question
What is RDA? What is the difference between Singapore RDA and US RDA? How can I use it to reduce weight?
Answer
RDA stands for Recommended Dietary Allowances. In the US, it is defined as the level of essential nutrients (based on scientific knowledge) adequate to meet the the known nutrient needs of the practically all healthy persons. What this means is that there is a recommended level for about 19 nutrients that the experts feel is necessary to keep 98% of the population healthy.

The Singapore RDA is adapted from the US RDA and is known as the Average Daily Dietary Recommendation for Singapore Adults. There are some differences between the US and Singapore RDAs, such as the US RDA for calcium is 800 mg per day for women aged 25 years and above, while it is only 400-500 mg per day for all age groups in Singapore. Both RDAs generally follow the same guidelines however.

The tables given on this website is the Singapore RDA. If you want the US RDA, go to our US site at: www.nutritionwerks.com.

The RDA is not commonly used in weight management as the recommendation for calorie/energy is not precise enough to effect weight loss. It only provides broad ranges of calories for different activity levels for men and women of various age groups. If you are looking for guidelines to reduce weight, use the Healthy Diet Pyramid as a guide.


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