The Simple Test That Works Out How Many Carbs You Should Eat

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Everyone knows someone who gobbles vast platters of pasta yet never puts on a pound; while others swear blind they can’t even look at carbs without putting on weight. These differences might just be due to genetics. In his book The DNA Restart, neurogeneticist Dr Sharon Moalem argues that people’s diet should be based on their genes. Furthermore, finding out about your genes need not be more complicated than picking up a pack of crackers, according to Dr Moalem’s very simple test to discover your carb type.

The Cracker Test

As genetics-revealing procedures go, the cracker test is disarmingly dull. Grab an unsalted cracker, set a timer for 30 seconds, take a bite of said cracker and chew. DO NOT SWALLOW. Although if you do accidentally swallow, it’s not the end of the world, as unless that was your last cracker it’s a pretty easy test to start again.

While chewing, pay close attention to the taste. As soon as it turns from bland to sweet, stop the clock. Repeat the test at least twice and get an average of the times. Then check out your carb type and recommendations based on that time (see below).

Test Results

0-14 seconds: Full carb type. Congrats, you’re a carb breaking down machine. Your genes allow you to have up to 50% of your calorie intake from carbs, with 20% from protein, and 30% fat.

15-30 seconds: Moderate carb type. The man in the middle. Aim for 35% of your calories from carbs, the same again from fats, and 30 per cent from protein.

30+ seconds: Restricted carb type. PUT DOWN THE BAGEL. Keep your carbs restricted to 25% of your calories. Bulk up your diet with 40% from fats, and 35% from protein.

RECOMMENDED: Low-Carb Diet Tips

Does It Work?

If this all seems a little too easy to you, you’re not alone, as Coach also wondered how much can really be discovered about genetics from a cracker. Fortunately dietitian and BDA spokesperson Mariette Abrahams was on hand to appraise the cracker test.

“Whilst research in the Amylase gene indicates that individuals with lower number of copies tend to have a higher body mass index and, therefore, don’t use carbs well, the exact amount of carbohydrate you should eat relative to that number is just not (yet) known. So the cracker test is probably fun to do, but you’d be better off with a good dietitian to fine-tune a plan that works for you.”

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.