The Importance of Counting Carbs If You Have Diabetes
Life with diabetes can seem complicated with glucose levels to monitor, medicines to remember, and meals to plan. It can feel like your condition consumes your whole life. Complicated meal planning strategies only add to the confusion. But a simpler meal planning solution may work for you. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) considers counting carbohydrates (“carbs”) to be a key strategy for meeting glucose level goals.
When you eat foods that contain carbs your blood glucose levels increase. By eating the right amount of the right kind of carbs, you can keep your glucose levels in your desired range. Carbs come in three varieties: starches, sugars, and fiber.
- Starches (complex carbohydrates) are foods like grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables (eg, potatoes, corn).
- Sugars can be natural (like those in fruit and milk) or added (like the sugary syrup in canned fruit).
- Fiber can be found in foods like fruit (especially fruits with edible skin, like apples), vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
Knowing the number of carbs you need to eat each day is very important to make carb-counting work for you. It will be based on several factors, including your activity level and any medicines you take to control your glucose levels. Work with your doctor or dietitian to learn how many carbs you need to eat at each meal and snack. For example, you may have a goal of eating about 45-60 grams of carbs at each meal.
Last reviewedMay 2011by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.