Carbohydrate Counting and Diabetes


Healthy eating recommendations for persons living with diabetes are quite similar to recommendations for the rest of-the population. Foods which contain carbohydrate are a vital source of fuel for the body. Carbohydrates are sugar-based molecules often found in many foods, from cantaloupes to cookies.

Background Information.

For many years it was considered that foods containing sugar would result in a rapid rise in the levels of glucose in the blood for persons with diabetes while complex carbohydrates (starchy foods) would cause a slower rise. It is now known that this isn’t the case. All foods with carbohydrate are converted to glucose within 2 hours of eating. The cells of the body utilize glucose for-energy. Therefore, it’s important to focus on the amount of-carbs in meals and snacks one ingests to predict how a meal will impact glucose (sugar) levels in the blood.


There are several different ways persons with diabetes can manage their food-intake to-keep their blood-glucose within their target range. One such method is known as ‘carbohydrate counting’. Counting carbohydrate serves can help you manage blood glucose levels and consequently, your diabetes. It can also help reduce portion sizes so as to attain gradual weight loss.

What is carbohydrate-counting?

Carbohydrate counting, or “carb-counting,” is a meal-planning tool or technique for people with type-1 or type-2 diabetes to use in managing their blood-glucose levels. Carbohydrate-counting does involve keeping track of how much carbohydrate in the you eat each-day by calculating grams of carbs consumed.

If you’ve diabetes, planning your intake of carbohydrates – and sticking to the plan – is crucial to keep blood sugar levels on an even keel and to also cut your risk of diabetes-related issues like stroke and heart disease. Foods that-contain carbs have the biggest effect on glucose levels in the blood compared to foods that contain fat or protein.


You can set a limit for-the maximum amount of-carbohydrate to consume for a meal. With the correct balance of exercise (physical-activity), and medicine, if need be, can help to maintain your blood glucose levels within your target range. Whether or not you’ve diabetes, you can aim to-get about half your calories from starchy foods (which are high in fiber), 20 to 25% from protein, and not more than 30% from fat.

However, it is important to-note that before you start any new treatment or eating plan, you need to always consult with your diabetes healthcare professional. Your physician can refer you to a diabetes educator or dietitian who can help you in developing a healthy meal-plan based on carbohydrate counting

How much carbohydrate do I require each day?

How much carbs you consume is very person. Finding the right carbohydrate amount will depend on many things such as what, if-any, medicines you take and how active you-are. Besides, the daily amount of carbohydrate, fat, and protein for persons with diabetes is yet to be defined – what is best for one individual may not be best for another. Everybody needs to get adequate carbohydrate to meet the needs of the body in terms of energy, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.

Finding the-balance for yourself is imperative so you-can feel your best, do the-things you enjoy most, and lower the risk of-diabetes complications. Experts suggest that intake of carbohydrate for most people is between 45-65% of total calories. A good place to begin is carbohydrate intake of about 45-60 grams at a meal and 15-30 grams for snacks. One gram of carbohydrate will provide around 4 calories, so you will have to divide the-number of calories you want to obtain from carbohydrates by 4 in order to get the-number of grams

People who are physically inactive, and people on low-calorie diets may want to aim for the-lower end of that range. Moreover, you may require more or less amounts of carbohydrate at meals depending-on the way you manage diabetes. You will need to spread out your intake of carbohydrate throughout the day.

main-diabetes-complicationsYou and your diabetes care team (dietitian or diabetes educator) can figure-out the right amount of-carbohydrate for you. You may need-to work with a diabetes care team to fine-tune your carbohydrate requirements, based on your level of activity, whether or not you use insulin, and whether you want to lose weight.

Checking your blood-sugar levels before and after meals is also crucial as you test-drive your carb counting plan. If particular foods – like pasta or fruit juice – cause your blood-sugar levels to spike, you will have-to consume these in somewhat smaller portions. Once you find out how much carb to-eat at a meal, select your meal and the portion-size to match.

*The author of this blog is not a medical professional and this article does not contain professional medical advice. This blog is not intended to substitute for medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the contents of this article. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.