How to Count Carbs Medically Reviewed by on February 07, 2021 Carbohydrates are a great source of energy for your body, but they affect your blood sugar too. If you have diabetes, keep track of how many you eat with a few simple tricks. Know your carbs.
- It’s a lot more than just pasta and bread.
- All starchy foods, sugars, fruit, milk, and yogurt are rich in carbs, too.
- Make sure you count them all, not just the obvious ones.
- Put together a meal plan.
- Figure out the amount of carbs, protein, and fat you can eat at meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels steady.
Most adults with diabetes aim for 45-60 grams of carbs per meal and 15-20 grams per snack. That number may go up or down, depending on how active you are and the medicines you take, so check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. Look at labels. They make counting carbs easy.
Find the “Total Carbohydrate” number listed on a package’s “Nutrition Facts” panel. Then, check the serving size and confirm the amount you can eat. Repeat this step with other foods you plan to eat. When you add all the grams of carbs, the total should stay within your meal budget. Starch, fruit, or milk = 15.
Fresh foods don’t come with a label. You may have to guess the number of carbs they have. A good rule of thumb: Each serving of fruit, milk, or starch has about 15 grams. Vegetables don’t have a lot, so you can eat more of them. Two or three servings of veggies usually equal 15 grams of carbs.
Pay attention to portion sizes. The size of one serving depends on the type of food. For instance, one small (4-ounce) piece of fresh fruit, 1/3 cup of pasta or rice, and 1/2 cup of beans are each one serving. Buy a pocket guide that lists carb counts and portion sizes. Or download an app on your smartphone.
Measuring cups and a food scale when you eat at home will help you be accurate. Adjust your insulin. Your doses may change, depending on the amount of carbs you ate at a meal and the difference between your target blood sugar level and your actual reading.
- You’ll need to know your “insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio,” or the number of carbs one unit of insulin will cover.
- Generally, one unit of fast-acting insulin covers 12-15 grams of carbohydrates.
- Your body can also be more sensitive to insulin changes throughout the day.
- Stress or how much you exercise also has an impact.
It’s important to work out a plan with your doctor for how to change your treatment if you need to. Make healthy choices. Carb counting focuses on the number of them you eat at every meal, not what types. Still, pick healthy options when you can. Foods and drinks with added sugar are often high in calories and low on nutrients.
How many carbs should a Type 2 diabetic have per meal?
Most people with type 2 diabetes should stick to eating around 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal. For foods that have nutrition labels, add up the grams of carbohydrates per serving and, generally, stick to one serving size.
How many carbs can a Type 1 diabetic have per meal?
If you have type 1 diabetes, it is important to know how many carbohydrates you eat at a meal. This information helps you determine how much insulin you should take with your meal to maintain blood sugar (glucose) control. Carbohydrates are the main type of food that raises blood sugar.
The starch, fruit and milk groups of the Food Group Pyramid for Diabetes are high in carbs. Foods in the Other Carbohydrates and Combination Food groups are also high in carbs. The vegetable group has a small amount of carbohydrates. The meat and fat groups have few or no carbs. The amount of carbohydrates you eat at each meal will determine how high your blood sugar rises after the meal.
The other two major nutrients, protein and fat,also have an effect on blood glucose levels, though it is not as rapid or great as carbohydrates. Most people with diabetes can control their blood sugar by limiting carbohydrate servings to 2-4 per meal and 1-2 per snack.
A delicate balance of carbohydrate intake, insulin, and physical activity is necessary for the best blood sugar (glucose) levels. Eating carbohydrates increases your blood sugar (glucose) level. Exercise tends to decrease it (although not always). If the three factors are not in balance, you can have wide swings in blood sugar (glucose) levels.
If you have type 1 diabetes and take a fixed dose of insulin, the carbohydrate content of your meals and snacks should be consistent from day to day.
How many carbs can type 2 diabetic have per day?
– Studies have shown that many different levels of carb intake may help manage blood sugar, and the optimal amount of carbs varies by individual. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) used to recommend that people with diabetes get around 45% of their calories from carbs.
However, the ADA now promotes an individualized approach in which your ideal carb intake should take into account your dietary preferences and metabolic goals ( 7 ). It’s important to eat the number of carbs at which you feel best and that you can realistically maintain in the long term. The typical American diet provides around 2,200 calories per day, with 50% of them coming from carbs.
This is equivalent to 275 grams of carbs per day ( 8 ). A severely restricted intake of less than 50 grams of carbs per day appears to produce the most dramatic results and may reduce or even eliminate the need for insulin or diabetes medication. This represents 9–10% of daily calories on a 2,000–2,200-calorie diet ( 9, 10, 11 ).
When tracking carb intake, experts sometimes recommend focusing on your net carbs instead of the total amount of carbs you eat. Net carbs is total grams of carbs minus grams of fiber ( 11 ). People with diabetes can also benefit from diets that allow up to 26% of their daily calories to come from carbs.
For people who eat 2,000–2,200 calories a day, this is equivalent to 130–143 grams of carbs ( 12 ). Since carbs raise blood sugar, reducing them to any extent can help you manage your blood sugar levels. Therefore, figuring out how many carbs to eat requires some testing and evaluating to find out what works best for you.
How many carbs should diabetic avoid?
Grams of Carbs per Day for Prediabetics 130 grams : ‘Adequate Intake’ (the amount considered adequate for most people).150-200 grams per day, or 30-40% of total calories on a 2,000-calorie diet: the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) description of a standard ‘low-carb’ diet.
What is the danger zone for diabetes?
In general, a blood sugar reading of more than 180 mg/dL or any reading above your target range is too high. A blood sugar reading of 300 mg/dL or more can be dangerous. If you have 2 readings in a row of 300 or more, call your doctor.
What is a good diabetes score?
Tests for type 1 and type 2 diabetes and prediabetes –
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test, which doesn’t require not eating for a period of time (fasting), shows your average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you’ll have with sugar attached. An A1C level of 6.5% or higher on two separate tests means that you have diabetes. An A1C between 5.7% and 6.4% means that you have prediabetes. Below 5.7% is considered normal. Random blood sugar test. A blood sample will be taken at a random time. No matter when you last ate, a blood sugar level of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) — 11.1 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) — or higher suggests diabetes. Fasting blood sugar test. A blood sample will be taken after you haven’t eaten anything the night before (fast). A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it’s 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes. Oral glucose tolerance test. For this test, you fast overnight. Then, the fasting blood sugar level is measured. Then you drink a sugary liquid, and blood sugar levels are tested regularly for the next two hours. A blood sugar level less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) is normal. A reading of more than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) after two hours means you have diabetes. A reading between 140 and 199 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L and 11.0 mmol/L) means you have prediabetes.
If your provider thinks you may have type 1 diabetes, they may test your urine to look for the presence of ketones. Ketones are a byproduct produced when muscle and fat are used for energy. Your provider will also probably run a test to see if you have the destructive immune system cells associated with type 1 diabetes called autoantibodies.
Can not eating enough raise blood sugar?
When you first found out you had diabetes, you tested your blood sugar often. Doing so helped you understand how food, activity, stress, and illness could affect your blood sugar levels. By now, you’ve got it figured out for the most part. But then—bam! Something makes your blood sugar zoom up. Do you know all these blood sugar triggers? Knowledge is power! Look out for these surprising triggers that can send your blood sugar soaring:
Sunburn —the pain causes stress, and stress increases blood sugar levels. Artificial sweeteners—more research is needed, but some studies show they can raise blood sugar. Coffee—even without sweetener. Some people’s blood sugar is extra-sensitive to caffeine. Losing sleep—even just one night of too little sleep can make your body use insulin less well. Skipping breakfast—going without that morning meal can increase blood sugar after both lunch and dinner. Time of day—blood sugar can be harder to control the later it gets. Dawn phenomenon—people have a surge in hormones early in the morning whether they have diabetes or not. For people with diabetes, blood sugar can spike. Dehydration—less water in your body means your blood sugar is more concentrated. Nose spray—some have chemicals that trigger your liver to make more blood sugar. Gum disease —it’s both a complication of diabetes and a blood sugar spiker.
Watch out for other triggers that can make your blood sugar fall. For example, extreme heat can cause blood vessels to dilate (widen). That makes insulin absorb more quickly and could lead to low blood sugar. If an activity or food is new, check your blood sugar before and after to see how you respond.