Counting carbs is keeping track of all the carbohydrates a person takes in his or her meals, snacks, or drinks. Carb counting makes management of blood sugar easier for a diabetic patient; along with:
- a long healthy life,
- improvement in the quality of life,
- preventing the risk of diabetes complications including eye problems, heart disorders, or kidney diseases.
Read further and get to know what are healthy carbs for a diabetic and how many carbs per day for a diabetic is good to eat.
What are Carbs or Carbohydrates?
Carbs are sugar-based molecules commonly present in food items such as sweets, starches, or dairy products. Any diabetic person must plan his or her carb consumption and stick to the plan. This is vital so that blood sugar level remains controlled and also the risk of diabetes-associated complications gets minimized. Whether the person is a diabetic or non-diabetic, the major aim should be: consuming half of the calories from complex carbs (rich in fiber), 25% from protein, and not more than 25-30% from fat.
How Many Carbs Per Day For a Diabetic?
In case, the person is taking 2000 calories a day, he or she must take 250gm of complex carbs (fibers) per day. Initially, a diabetic person must start with having about 45-60gms of carbs per meal and 15-30gms for snacks. Every diabetic person has one query in his or her mind: how many carbs should a diabetic have for a snack? Snacking is the key for diabetics who are on insulin or anti-diabetic medications that increase insulin production.
Thus, the key for any diabetic person (whether or not they are on insulin), is to maintain their sugar levels under normal limits. Also, he or she must aim at increasing their consumption of nutritious carbs and lessening the less healthy ones.
Managing Diabetes & Counting Daily Carbs
When carbs get digested (carbs from drinks or foods), they break down into glucose. This glucose acts as a fuel for body cells. This way, the blood glucose or sugar level rises in the body. In a non-diabetic person, similar way blood glucose levels rise after food intake. But insulin responds in a non-diabetic person and keeps the blood sugar levels from rising too high.
In the case of a diabetic person, the whole process doesn’t function as it should be. Insulin hormone fails to work and thus, blood sugar levels keep on rising if the person takes carb-rich foods all the time. That’s why; carb count greatly helps in blood sugar management.
People with Type 2 Diabetes develop insulin resistance and are not capable of producing a sufficient amount. Thus, the person must be mindful of his or her carb consumption. A constant quantity of carbohydrates can be taken at meals during the day rather than taking them altogether. This would help in avoiding the blood glucose spikes considerably. Diabetics on oral drugs can take help from a more basic form of carb counting in comparison to people on insulin.
Benefits of Carb Counting: The Carb Goal!
The benefits of carb counting are keeping the blood glucose levels steady together with:
- maintaining the overall well-being of people with type 2 diabetes.
- improving the energy levels.
- preventing diabetes-associated complications because of excessively high or low blood glucose.
Also Read: What is normal sugar level by age?
Fine-tune The Diabetic Carb Intake
Here, a dietician or diabetes educator plays a key role in adjusting the carb prerequisites. And this depends upon the person’s activity level, whether he or she wishes to lose weight, and whether or not insulin is being used. Before test driving the carbohydrate counting plan, it is also vital to keep a check on the blood glucose levels before and after meals. If food items such as pasta or fruit juice spike the blood glucose, then it is better to take them in smaller portions.
How to Count Carbohydrates for Better Glucose Control?
Every diabetic person should count his or her carbohydrates and take a healthy or balanced diet by:
- Checking with some good nutritionist or a diabetes educator. They assist them in planning the number of carbs to incorporate in each meal and snack. The count is done either in grams or carb servings.
- Having standard portions of carb-rich diets. Each serving size consists of approximately 15 grams of carbs. These are the maximum carbs for diabetics.
- Having standard portions of protein-rich meals. It is very important to include protein (eggs, beans, cheese, or meat) in the diet.
- Consuming less saturated fats and trans fats. A diabetic balanced diet plan must include only healthy fats. It’s essential to check with a healthcare provider to know about the fat content permissible in the diet plan.
Also Read: Blood sugar level conversion chart
Top 10 Common Foods With Carbs Value For Diabetic Person
How many carbs should a diabetic eat? Here is a guide to making out the carb content present in 10 foods that a person haves daily. Take help from this list of recommended carbs for diabetics. Get your measuring cups ready!
1 bread slice = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
Whole wheat bread is best for diabetics than white-wheat bread (even though both contain similar carb content). Whole wheat bread has over two times more fiber than white bread. This means that the person can digest it gradually and his or her blood glucose would rise more slowly after its intake. A diabetic person must aim to have 30 gm of fiber each day.
Also Read: Best Bread For Diabetics
3/4th cup of dry cereal = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
Having a morning meal is a vital part of every day’s life. But this is particularly true for individuals with diabetes. A balanced breakfast kicks start the day actively. A cereal bowl together with skimmed milk can be an ideal first meal of the day. Remember to avoid sugary, low-fiber cereals (like cornflakes). Oat bran cereal is found to be a better option to substitute cornflakes.
1 small piece = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
Fruit should be taken by diabetics in measured portion size. A diabetic person can have fruits like apples, peaches, pear, berries, musk melon, etc. Chiku or grapes contain excessive sugar; thus these can be avoided. A medium banana can be taken which contains 15 gm of carbs, plus it fills the stomach and is rich in minerals like potassium. Berries are choke-full of fiber and antioxidants. All that is important is to take care of the amount of fruit a person is eating. This should be the maximum daily carb intake from fruits.
Also Read: Fruits For Diabetics
1/3rd cup of pasta = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
One should choose whole-wheat noodles than white pasta. It is a healthier choice for diabetics. But it’s important to measure the portion size. One-third cup must be taken; and if the pasta bowl is overloaded, then the person will get enough carbs in a single meal.
½ cup fruit juice = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
Every diabetic should opt for fruit instead of fruit juice, as fruit is rich in fiber. And fruit juices, whether sugar-free or natural juices – are quite high in calories. 3 glasses deliver 300-400 calories approximately according to nutritionists.
1 cup fat-free skimmed milk = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
Dairy products are rich in key nutrients such as proteins, calcium, and vitamin D, etc. So, if a person likes them, these can be included in the diet. Remember to skip full-fat milk and replace it with skimmed milk or low- or no-fat dairy products. High cholesterol and high triglycerides levels often accompany diabetes, hence avoiding dairy fats is important.
1 cup of plain yoghurt = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
Yogurt must come from a non-fat source so it’s a great, healthy choice for diabetic people. Flavoured yogurt must be avoided as it’s packed with sugar. So it’s better to check the carb content. The person can make his or her recipe by adding chopped fruit and nuts to nonfat yoghurt and this comes out to be really tasty.
3-5 Saltines = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
While snacking on crackers, it is important to check the label for sodium and trans fat content. As a watch on both are important just like watching for carb content. Even low-carb crackers are found to have unhealthy fats and an excess of salt. Thus, one must opt for crackers with less than 200 mg of sodium per serving of carbs. Also, it’s preferable to leave out the cracker containing trans fat.
½ cup of ice cream = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
Diabetics must stay away from ice creams and go for some low-fat options such as frozen yogurt or can take even sugar-free popsicles.
2 cookies = 15 gms of carbs or 1 serving
A diabetic person should always say good-bye to cookies, sweets as they are high in calories. He or she can take one or two cookies that too sugar-free before or after their meals.
Importance of Carb Counting in People With Type 2 Diabetes
- A study was conducted in type 2 diabetic patients who consumed a high protein; high fiber diet. It was found that there was a 29% decrease in their fasting blood glucose levels, on average.
- Another 12-month research study was conducted on 259 people with type 2 diabetes, who had a Mediterranean diet. This diet offered 35% or fewer calories from carbs. A significant decrease in HbA1c was seen that ranged from 8.3% to 6.3%.
Thus, there are a lot of studies that depict that restricting carbs benefits diabetics to a major extent. The lower their carb consumption is, the higher is the effect on their blood glucose levels and other health markers.
Also Read: HbA1c normal range chart
Other Helpful Implications for Every Diabetic
Here is a list of some useful suggestions that helps considerably in counting on the carbohydrates:
- It is a must to read the product label carefully for carbohydrate content. Read the serving size mentioned on the package.
- Keep track of blood sugar levels. Doing this before and one-two hours after having meals, a person can see how food affects blood glucose levels.
- A food record or a diary can be kept along. This should keep a note of what the person is eating and his or her blood sugar results. This helps in discussing with the concerned dietician whether the meal plan needs to be adjusted or not and he or she can review the patient’s food record.
- Find a diabetes education program: The diabetes care team helps in tracking food intake and blood glucose levels and provides the patient with useful facts about how different meals impact their blood sugar. This greatly helps in determining the right amount of carbohydrates for the person with type 2 diabetes. Breath Well-being offers a well-research digital program that guides people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. Through this plan, people can see a remarkable change in their blood sugar levels, weight changes, their fitness levels, and eventually can notice “zero medication” in their prescriptions. And company’s health experts assist users to formulate the required modifications in their diet or daily routine.
The bottom line is, the fewer carbs a person consumes the less blood glucose rises and the less anti-diabetic drug or insulin will be required to stay within a healthy range. Diabetes management aims at determining the recommended dietary intake for diabetics. And regular testing of blood sugar levels and making amendments as per the needs is also determined.
Several research studies have found that a recommended daily carbs for diabetics of 20-150 grams, or 5 to 35% of calories, not only improves the blood sugar level but also promotes healthy weight loss plus other health benefits. Thus, paying attention to different carbohydrates helps in optimal diabetes control along with improving the standard of living.
Also Read: Can you get an ulcer on your foot?
Which foods, low or high GI beneficial in preventing the risk of diabetes complications?
Diets with a low GI assist in preventing diabetes from developing and helps to prevent the incidence of complications.
What do you mean by Glycemic Index?
According to ADA, Glycemic Index (GI) is a key in the diet planning of diabetic people for better blood sugar control. GI is a ranking system comparing carbohydrates to demonstrate their impact on your blood sugar. Each carb is allocated a GI ranking from 0 to 100. This ranking depends upon how much a particular carb raises the blood glucose after being eaten.
Is calorie-counting also beneficial in diabetes management or are calories good for diabetes?
There is no direct correlation between calories and type 2 diabetes. However, being obese or overweight is a risk factor. Some dietary habits such as consuming healthful foods in moderate portions and low glycemic fruits and veggies greatly help.
How many carbs are good for diabetic person like me?
There’s no magic number when it comes to counting the ideal carbohydrate intake for diabetics per meal. The amount of carbs each person needs is largely determined by his or her body size and activity level. Also, hunger and appetite play a major role.
To make out how many carbs are good for your health, it’s good to schedule an appointment with your diabetes educator or nutritionist. They will create an eating plan for you.
Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.