How To EASILY Eat 400 Grams of Carbs A Day (With Meal Plan)

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If eating 400 grams of carbs daily feels daunting, you’re not alone.

It’s a challenging target to reach day after day, but it’s far from impossible if you do it right.

Let’s break it down.

Key Takeaways

  • If you’re a bodybuilder in a bulking phase, around 55-60% of your total calories should come from carbs. If your calorie target is 2,900-3,000 per day, your carb intake will be around 400 grams.
  • The best way to hit 400 grams is to plan each meal around carbs with a clear target. For example, aim for 90 grams of carbs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have two snacks with 65 grams.
  • Drinking some of your carbs (e.g., having high-carb smoothies and protein shakes), eating higher-carb foods (e.g., bagel instead of whole-wheat bread), and having a bit of junk food will make it easier to eat 400 grams consistently.

What Does 400 Grams of Carbs Look Like?

What does 400 grams of carbs look like?

The following are examples of 400 grams of carbs:

From a Supplement (Weight Gainer)

Approximately seven scoops (698 grams).

  • Calories: 2814
  • Carbs: 400 grams
  • Protein: 191 grams
  • Fats: 50 grams

From Common Grains

Approximately two cups of rice (cooked), four slices of whole wheat bread, two cups of oats (cooked), two cups of quinoa (cooked), two cups of sweet corn, and 1.5 cups of bulgur (cooked).

  • Calories: 1891
  • Carbs: 400 grams
  • Protein: 57 grams
  • Fats: 7 grams

From Common Fruits

Approximately two small apples, 11 medium-sized bananas, two medium-sized oranges, a cup of grapes, and 1.5 cups of strawberries.

  • Calories: 1725
  • Carbs: 401 grams
  • Protein: 19 grams
  • Fats: 5 grams

From Potatoes Only

Approximately 12 potatoes (2350 grams).

  • Calories: 1901
  • Carbs: 404 grams
  • Protein: 66 grams
  • Fats: 2.3 grams

From Junk Food

Approximately one medium bag of potato chips, a 3.5-ounce serving of churros, two average-sized candy bars, one large milkshake, and three cans of sugary soda.

  • Calories: 2922
  • Carbs: 405 grams
  • Protein: 42 grams
  • Fats: 126 grams

Who Should Eat 400 Grams of Carbs?

While a seemingly high target, many active individuals must eat 350-400+ grams of carbs daily for optimal performance and post-workout recovery.

First, we have the popular recommendation from the Journal of Sports Medicine, stating that endurance athletes should be eating:

“6–10 g/kg of bodyweight depending on gender and physical fitness level of the individual, total training load, energy expenditure, type of physical activity and environment.”

Based on this recommendation, an athlete or recreationally active person weighing 88lbs (40 kg) to 145 lbs (66 kg) would need 400 grams of carbs.

However, those who are not endurance athletes (i.e., bodybuilders and strength-oriented athletes) should aim for 55-60% of their total calories from carbs, 25-30% from protein, and 15-20% from fat instead.

Example Macronutrient Calculation

For example, let’s take an 176-lb (80kg) bodybuilder looking to do a controlled bulk who needs 2,700 calories daily to maintain their body weight.

Add another 200 calories for a moderate calorie surplus (necessary for muscle gain), and the calorie goal rises to 2,900.

Protein and carbs have four calories per gram, and fats have nine, so let’s calculate how much of each macronutrient our hypothetical bodybuilder would need to eat.

First, carbs:

  • 2900 x 0.55 = 1,595 calories to carbs; 1,595 / 4 calories per gram = 399 grams
  • 2900 x 0.60 = 1,740 calories to carbs; 1,740 / 4 calories per gram = 435 grams

So, we have 1,595 to 1,740 calories for carbs or 399 to 435 grams.

Next up, protein:

  • 2,900 x 0.25 = 725 calories to protein; 725 / 4 calories per gram = 181 grams
  • 2,900 x 0.30 = 870 calories to protein; 870 / 4 calories per gram = 217 grams

So, 725 to 870 calories for protein, or 181 to 217 grams

The lower end aligns with the recommendation of up to a gram of protein per pound, but the higher end would be more than required for this individual).

Finally, we have fats:

  • 2,900 x 0.15 = 435 calories to fats ; 435 / 9 calories per gram = 48 grams
  • 2,900 x 0.20 = 580 calories to fats ; 580 / 9 calories per gram = 64 grams

So, 435 to 580 calories for fats, or 48 to 64 grams.

8 Tips On Hitting 400 Grams of Carbs

tips on hitting 400 grams of carbs

My top tips for hitting 400 grams of carbs are:

1. Eat Carbs For Every Meal and Snack

Focus on building your meals around your carb source so that you use each meal as an opportunity to increase your intake.

Including at least one serving of some carb sources for each meal and snack will make it far easier to reach the goal for the day without feeling overwhelmed. 

Here are some examples of carbs you could include in your meals:

  • Breakfast: four slices of whole-grain bread with jam (up to 75-80 grams of carbs)
  • Lunch: two medium-sized potatoes (roasted) and a cup of green peas (75 grams of carbs)
  • Afternoon snack: a cup of cooked oatmeal with an ounce of dried fruit (50 grams of carbs)
  • Dinner: three servings of crackers topped with honey and banana slices (as much as 70-80 grams of carbs, depending on the honey and banana quantities)

You need more carb sources, but this hopefully shows you that 400 grams of carbs are not out of reach as long as you’re consistent with your intake.

2. Break it Up Into Mini Goals

Eating carbs at each meal is an excellent first step, but setting precise goals is better once you’ve mastered that. That way, you can calculate how much you would need to eat to cover each mini-goal.

For example, let’s say you eat three meals and three snacks. It could look like this:

  • Meal 1 – 80 grams of carbs
  • Snack 1 – 60 grams of carbs
  • Meal 2 – 80 grams of carbs
  • Snack 2 – 50 grams of carbs
  • Meal 3 – 90 grams of carbs
  • Snack 3 – 40 grams of carbs

I’ve included two meal plans below that you can reference for meal inspiration to hit these mini-goals.

3. Drink Some of Your Calories

Drinking some of your daily carbs is an excellent way to reach 400 grams, especially if you’re often on the go or have a smaller appetite.

One of my favorite options is smoothies because they offer more nutrition.

For example:

  • Medium-sized banana
  • A cup of mango chunks
  • A cup of pineapple chunks
  • Half a cup of orange juice
  • Half a cup of Greek yogurt
  • Ice cubes
  • Total: 85 grams of carbs

Mixing oats, honey, and bananas can add carbs to your protein shakes. You can even stir some table sugar into it for extra carbs.

Sports drinks like Gatorade are also an option when you struggle to get enough carbs. For instance, a 600-ml (20.2-ounce) bottle of regular Gatorade has 36 grams of carbs.

You can also opt for freshly squeezed fruit juice. For instance, a cup of fresh orange juice has 112 calories and 26 grams of carbs.

4. Cover Only Your Bare Minimum Fiber Needs

Fiber is necessary for proper digestion and regular bowel movements, but it also delays gastric emptying, which means food leaves the stomach more slowly.

As such, fiber can make you feel fuller longer and reduce your overall calorie and carb intake for the day. I recommend getting the necessary fiber from fruits, veggies, and grains without going overboard. 

The standard recommendation is to consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories. For example, if you eat 3,000 calories daily, aim for 42 grams of fiber. 

Some lower fiber carb options include:

  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Bagels
  • Cereals
  • Rice cakes

5. Extend Your Eating Window

Intermittent fasting is based on the idea of narrowing your eating window, which means being allowed to eat for fewer hours of the day.

Here, you may have to do the opposite to reach 400 grams of carbs without having to eat four servings of 100 grams of carbs and struggling to walk afterward.

To do that, start eating earlier and finish later (as late as 9 to 11 PM if necessary). 

For example:

  • 7 AM: breakfast, 80 grams of carbs
  • 10 AM: snack, 60 grams of carbs
  • 1 PM: lunch, 80 grams of carbs
  • 4 PM: snack, 60 grams of carbs
  • 7 PM: dinner, 80 grams of carbs
  • 9 PM: snack, 40 grams of carbs

This approach gives you more time to hit your carb goal and allows you to have smaller meals and snacks that are more manageable.

6. Choose Higher-Carb Alternatives

Carbs are found in many everyday foods, but some have more carbs per serving, making it easier to reach a higher carb intake.

Here are a few substitutions to boost your carb intake:

  • Cornflakes instead of oats (17 extra grams of carbs per 100 grams)
  • Sweetened Greek yogurt instead of plain Greek yogurt (10 extra grams per container)
  • Chocolate milk instead of plain milk (5-6 extra grams per 100 ml)
  • Bagel instead of two slices of bread (25 extra grams)
  • Two ounces of dried fruit instead of a large pear (15 extra grams)

When shopping, always read the nutritional labels of everyday foods and snacks to see which options help you more easily reach your target. Foods high in carbs but low in fiber and fats are ideal because they digest quickly and don’t keep you full for as long.

7. Track Your Carb Intake

As the saying goes, “what doesn’t get measured can’t be improved, ” which applies to nutritional goals like eating 400 grams of carbs daily.

Estimating your carb intake will never be as accurate; you might end up undereating without realizing it, especially if you have a naturally low appetite. 

So, rather than leaving things to chance, download a nutrition-tracking app like MacroFactor and log your food.

Tracking your intake helps you be more consistent and teaches you which foods are helping you meet your goal and where you can improve.

8. Consider Having Some Junk Food

Relying solely on junk food to get 400 grams of carbs is not a good plan, but having some junk food is helpful if you struggle to hit your daily calorie and carb goals.

I recommend aiming for 80 to 90% of your calories to come from whole foods and leaving 10 to 20% for junk food.

For example, if you’re eating 3,200 calories and 400 grams of carbs, try to get 2,600-2,900 calories and 320-360 grams of carbs from whole foods and get the rest from your favorite treats.

As one Reddit user wrote in response to someone struggling to eat 400 grams of carbs daily:

“Apparently, you’ve never had Ben and Jerry’s.”

Speaking of that….

Is It Possible To Eat 400 Grams of Carbs A Day From Healthy Sources?

Eating 400 grams of carbs daily from whole food sources (those that have gone through little to no processing) is possible, though it can be more challenging because whole foods are more filling. 

If you have a naturally smaller appetite, eating 3,000+ calories and 400 grams of carbs may be more difficult without reaching for some junk food.

In contrast, someone with a larger appetite may find it easier to get 400 grams of carbs on a whole-food diet, even if they eat multiple servings of high-fiber foods during the day.

If you feel that getting 400 grams of carbs from healthy sources alone is impossible, try some of the tactics mentioned above:

  • Eat carbs at every meal and snack
  • Drink some of your carbs (e.g., smoothies and protein shakes)
  • Don’t eat too much fiber
  • Extend your eating window from early morning (e.g., 7 AM) to later in the evening (e.g., 9-10 PM)
  • Track your carb intake with an app to ensure accuracy

Sample Meal Plans For 400 Grams of Carbs


Meal Plan #1

This sample menu offers 412 grams of carbs, 147 grams of protein, 87 grams of fat, and 3,019 calories.

Breakfast (87 grams of carbs)

  • Three large whole-grain pancakes (carbs: 60g, protein: 12g, fats: 8g)
  • Two scrambled eggs (carbs: 1.2g, protein: 12g, fats: 10g)
  • A cup of orange juice (carbs: 26g, protein: 1.7g, fats: 0.5g)

Snack #1 (37 grams of carbs)

  • A large apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter (carbs: 37g, protein: 8.5g, fats: 16.5g)

Lunch (161 grams of carbs)

  • Turkey sandwich (two slices of whole-wheat bread) with tomato and lettuce (carbs: 40g, protein: 30g, fats: 9g)
  • A cup of baked beans (carbs: 55g, protein: 14g, fats: 13g)
  • Side salad with half a cup of corn and ¼ cup of cooked quinoa (carbs: 26g, protein: 5g, 2.5g)

Snack #2 (56 grams of carbs)

  • A container of Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of honey and half a cup of mixed berries (carbs: 33g, protein: 18g, fats: 1g)
  • An ounce of dried fruit (carbs: 23g, protein: 0.3g, fats: 0.8g)

Dinner (71 grams of carbs)

  • Seven ounces of grilled salmon (carbs: 0g, protein: 40g, fats: 26g)
  • Two medium-sized sweet potatoes (carbs: 46g, protein: 4g, fats: 0g)
  • Two servings of steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower (carbs: 25g, protein: 2g, fats: 0 g)

Meal Plan #2

This sample menu offers 401 grams of carbs, 198 grams of protein, 55 grams of fat, and 2891 calories.

Breakfast (103 grams of carbs)

  • 3.5 ounces of oats with six ounces of milk and a medium-sized banana (carbs: 102g, protein: 24g, fats: 7g)
  • Two boiled eggs (carbs: 1g, protein: 13g, fats: 11g)

Snack #1 (46 grams of carbs)

  • Fruit salad with one medium-sized apple, one medium orange, and a cup of grapes (carbs: 46g, protein: 3g, fats: 0.7g)

Lunch (75 grams of carbs)

  • A cup of cooked rice with half a cup of baked beans (carbs: 72g, protein: 8g, fats: 6g)
  • Seven ounces of grilled chicken breast (carbs: 0g, protein: 60g, fats: 7g)
  • Three cups of mixed greens (carbs: 3g, protein: 3g, fats: 0g)

Snack #2 (53 grams of carbs)

  • Two slices of whole-grain bread with jam (carbs: 30g, protein: 8g, fats: 2g)
  • An ounce of dried fruit (carbs: 23g, protein: 0.3g, fats: 0.8g)

Dinner (70 grams of carbs)

  • A cup of cooked quinoa with a mix of roasted veggies (carbs: 44g, protein: 10g, fats: 4g)
  • Five ounces of baked cod (carbs: 0g, protein: 30g, fats: 1g)
  • One candy bar of around 1.5 ounces (carbs: 26g, protein: 3.5g, fats: 13g)

Snack #3 (54 grams of carbs)

  • Protein shake with a scoop of protein powder, seven ounces of milk, a medium-sized banana, and an ounce of oats (carbs: 54g, protein: 36g, fats: 3g)

Still feeling overwhelmed and looking for personalized nutritional guidance? Check out our coaching services and apply today.


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About The Author

Philip Stefanov

Philip Stefanov is a certified conditioning coach, personal trainer, and fitness instructor. With more than nine years of experience in the industry, he’s helped hundreds of clients improve their nutritional habits, become more consistent with exercise, lose weight in a sustainable way, and build muscle through strength training. He is passionate about writing and has published more than 500 articles on various topics related to healthy nutrition, dieting, calorie and macronutrient tracking, meal planning, fitness and health supplementation, best training practices, and muscle recovery.

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