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How Many Carbs Is A Diabetic Allowed Per Day


Labels On The Front Of Packaging

How Many Carbs Should A Diabetic Have Per Day?

There are labels containing nutrition information on the front of some food packaging.

This includes labels that use red, amber and green colour coding, and advice on reference intakes of some nutrients, which can include sugar.

Labels that include colour coding allow you to see at a glance if the food has a high, medium or low amount of sugars:

  • red = high
  • amber = medium
  • green = low

Some labels on the front of packaging will display the amount of sugar in the food as a percentage of the RI.


RIs are guidelines for the approximate amount of particular nutrients and energy required in a day for a healthy diet.

The reference intake for total sugars is 90g a day, which includes 30g of free sugars.

For more information, see Food labels.

How Many Carbs Should A Type 2 Diabetic Eat Per Day

How many carbs should a diabetic patient eat? A type 2 diabetic should eat anywhere between 15-60 gr of carbs per meal to control and manage blood sugars effectively depending on their age, caloric needs, activity level and diabetes duration. Individual goals can very. You need to understand what your individual needs are. How many carbs should you eat a day personally is a decision between you, your endocrinologist, and your diabetes coach.

We will go over the basics of the carbohydrate needs of any diabetic.


Yes, it is a common question, and we are going to try to reply to this question. Its not going to be one single answer, but I think at the end of this article you will have an idea about how many carbs you should eat.

How Do Diabetics Count Carbs

Carbohydrates are measured in grams. Carb counting is simply counting how many grams of carbs are present in whatever food you are eating. Mealtime insulin should be consistently dosed on an insulin-to-carb ratio. Usually, people who are using insulin through shots or pumps employ an advanced method of carb counting. This is primarily for people with type 1 diabetes, but some people with type 2 can also do it.

Usually, people with type 2 diabetes do not need to track the exact number of carbs in each meal. Instead, they can do a more traditional, generalized version of carb counting to maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day.

A specialized method for this is the carbohydrate choice method, in which each type of choice has 15 grams of carbs. Another method for carb counting is the plate method. This is a guide for how to structure the types of foods you choose for each meal.

The best method for carb counting, of course, is the method that works to treat and manage your own illness. Whichever method you choose should address your specific case of diabetes, be tailored to your body, and work in conjunction with your life and schedule.


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Common Sources Of Added Sugars

There’s lots of added sugar in cookies, sodas, jams, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Yet plenty of “healthy” foods have sugar, too. They may even contain more sugar.

Here are a few examples:

  • Flavored yogurt: 26 grams per 6 ounces
  • Granola bars: 7 to 12 grams per 70-gram bar
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce: 11 grams per half-cup
  • Peanut butter: 5 grams per tablespoon
  • Protein bars: 23 to 30 grams per 80-gram bar
  • Russian salad dressing: 3 grams per tablespoon
  • Sweetened apple juice: 39 grams per 12 ounces
  • Vanilla almond milk: 14 grams per cup

Luckily, many of these foods have sugar-free versions so you can enjoy them without worry. But don’t confuse the terms “low fat” with “low sugar” or “no sugar added.” Low-fat foods and natural ingredients can still have added sugars.

Verywell / JR Bee


Great Now Which Foods Have Carbs

How Many Carbs Allowed On Diabetic Diet

Generally, the foods with the highest carbohydrate counts are grains, starchy vegetables, sugar, and processed foods.

Low-carb foods include leafy vegetables, lean meats, dairy, oils, nuts, and seeds. These foods wont spike your blood sugar and will help your energy levels feel more even throughout the day, especially when eaten consistently at every meal.

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How Many Carbs Are Right For You

To determine the right amount of carb grams to aim for in your eating plan, choose one of the categories below that best matches your stature, weight status, weight goals and activity level.

Consider the targets a starting point. Get a referral from your primary care provider or endocrinologist to meet with a dietitian and diabetes educator, and/or to attend a diabetes self-management education and support program to determine the best goals for your health.


Category 1: A Woman of Small Stature Who Wants to Lose Weight

You’re a woman who wants to lose weight, is small in stature and/or gets limited exercise. Consider the following:

Height: 4’10” to 5’2″

Daily calorie range: 2,300â2,800

Carb grams/day range*: 259â455 grams


Carb grams/meal range : 86â151 grams

*Based on 45â65% of calories from carbohydrate.

Note: Men who are under 65 years of age, moderate to large in stature, at a healthy weight and get a lot of exercise may need more calories and grams of carbohydrate.

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.

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How Many Carbs Can I Eat Per Day

As we said, it varies by person, but the average person with diabetes gets 40 to 45 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Some very low-carbohydrate diet plans may contain half this amount per day.

Starting slowly and steadily lowering your carb intake will help you avoid feeling fatigued or overwhelmed by the lifestyle change.

How To Read A Food Label

How Many Carbs Should A Diabetic Have In A Day?

The Nutrition Facts label lists the total amount of carbohydrates per serving, including carbs from fiber, sugar, and sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are often used in sugar-free foods, although they still deliver calories and carbs. Sugar alcohols and fiber don’t affect blood sugar as much as other carbs, because they’re not completely absorbed. If food contains sugar alcohol or 5 or more grams of fiber, you can subtract half of the grams of these ingredients from the number of total carbs. (See more details at the

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Planning Your Carb Intake

Mapping out your daily meals can provide a helpful framework for making sure you’re balancing your carb intake.


Goals to keep in mind:

  • 45 to 60 grams of carb per meal
  • 15 to 30 grams of carb per snack

When planning your meals, pair any carbs with a protein and fat to slow the uptake of glucose uptake by your bloodstream.

Added Sugar In The Diet

Your body doesnt need to get any carbohydrate from added sugar. Thats why the Healthy Eating Pyramid says sugary drinks and sweets should be used sparingly, if at all, and the Healthy Eating Plate does not include foods with added sugars.

An important fact to keep in mind when reading nutrition labels:4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon

The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which amounts to an extra 350 calories. While we sometimes add sugar to food ourselves, most added sugar comes from processed and prepared foods. Sugar-sweetened beverages and breakfast cereals are two of the most serious offenders.

The American Heart Association has recommended that Americans drastically cut back on added sugar to help slow the obesity and heart disease epidemics.


  • The AHA suggests an added-sugar limit of no more than 100 calories per day for most women and no more than 150 calories per day for most men.
  • Theres no nutritional need or benefit that comes from eating added sugar. A good rule of thumb is to avoid products that have a lot of added sugar, including skipping foods that list sugar as the first or second ingredient. However, the growing use of alternative sweeteners can make it difficult to determine which ingredients count as sugar, because there are multiple sources of sugar with different names.

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Reducing Sugar In Food

  • Rather than spreading high-sugar jam, marmalade, syrup, chocolate spread or honey on your toast, try a lower-fat spread, reduced-sugar jam or fruit spread, sliced banana or lower-fat cream cheese instead.
  • Check nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar, or go for the reduced- or lower-sugar version.
  • Try reducing the sugar you use in your recipes. It works for most things except jam, meringues and ice cream.
  • Choose tins of fruit in juice rather than syrup.
  • Choose unsweetened wholegrain breakfast cereals that are not frosted, or coated with chocolate or honey.
  • Choose unsweetened cereal and try adding some fruit for sweetness, which will contribute to your 5 A Day. Sliced bananas, dried fruit and berries are all good options.

The Food Scanner app from Change4Life can help you check how much sugar you or your child is having. Using your smartphone, the app can scan the barcode on food packets to find out exactly how much sugar is in it. Get it on the App Store and .

What Is Carbohydrate Counting

How Many Carbs Allowed On Diabetic Diet

Carbohydrate counting is a meal planning approach that evenly distributes your carbohydrate calories throughout your day by counting out the right amount of carbohydrate foods for each meal and snack. The emphasis with carbohydrate counting is on how much carbohydrate you eat at any one time, NOT on which type of carbohydrate you choose. Stay away from fad diets that restrict the amount of carbohydrates you can eat.

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What To Know About Weight Loss And Diabetes

Pictured Recipe: Vegetable Weight-Loss Soup


Research shows that losing weight can help you hit your blood glucose targets and control or slow progression of your prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Studies haven’t shown a low-carb diet to be more effective than a low-fat diet for long-term weight loss and maintenance. But you do need to maintain a calorie deficit if you want to lose weight.

Two large, multi-year studies funded by National Institutes of Health-the Diabetes Prevention Program in prediabetes and Look AHEAD in type 2 diabetes-used a lower-calorie eating plan and encouraged people to be more aware of their fat consumption by counting fat grams and calories. They didn’t focus on carbs. Both studies showed that people who lost weight-and kept it off-experienced numerous health benefits over the years. Both studies also encouraged physical activity almost every day.

Joslin also recommends 60-90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. This includes both cardio and strength training. Muscle burns calories, so if you’re only doing cardio, consider upping the resistance training to get more calorie burn throughout the day.

Type 1 Diabetes Nutrition

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 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 levels. Eating carbohydrates increases your blood sugar level. Exercise tends to decrease it . If the three factors are not in balance, you can have wide swings in blood sugar 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.

Children and Diabetes

Meal Planning

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Why Choose Carbohydrates With Fiber Rather Than Sugar

Pictured Recipe: Strawberry & Tuna Spinach Salad


Remember that carbohydrates can be further broken down into fiber and sugar. Research shows Americans eat too much added sugar and not enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Added sugar is anything that’s not plain dairy or fruit. The American Heart Association recommends women eat less than 24 grams of added sugar per day and men consume no more than 36 grams per day .

Instead, try to prioritize carbohydrates that provide fiber. Aim to get 25-35 grams of feel-full fiber each day. Focus on the quality of carbs you eat, aiming to make half your plate nonstarchy vegetables, a quarter of your plate whole grains and a quarter of your plate protein at most meals. Reduce your consumption of low-fiber, sugary foods and beverages, including desserts, muffins, soda, sugary coffee beverages, fruit juice, ice cream and baked goods, which add carbs without much nutrition.

The above recipe for Strawberry & Tuna Spinach Salad provides 20 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber for a healthy, satisfying meal that’s also diabetes-friendly.

How Do Diabetics Find The Amount Of Carbs For Their Food

How Many Carbs Should I Eat Per Day to Lose Weight?

Most food products have food labels, from which you can simply read the number of carbs in them. However, suppose you need to know how many carbs something like a fruit or vegetable has. In that case, there is a wide range of apps, websites, and services from which you can get that information.

Two things that are important to remember when looking at nutrition labels are:

  • Serving size. Serving sizes are always outlined on the nutrition label, and they are estimates of how much a person should or would eat of the product in one sitting. However, this does not always reflect the amount you eat. Therefore, if you eat more or less of that serving size, you will need to reflect that in your calculations.
  • Total carbohydrates. Be sure to look at the number of total carbs in whatever you are eating. This number will also include the carbs from the added sugars and other ingredients, so you dont need to add those into your calculations. However, you should aim to eat food that does not contain added sugar in general.

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Carbohydrate Guidelines For Type 2 Diabetes

    Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. But carbs also raise your blood sugar. When you have , its important to aim for a balanced carb intake. It can seem confusing and a little overwhelming at first, but dont be discouraged. Your doctor, diabetes educator, or can help you find a meal plan that works for you.

    Foods that contain carbohydrates include:

    • Grains, such as breads, cereals, pasta, and rice

    • Fruits and fruit juices

    • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and

    • Dried beans and peas

    • Dairy foods, such as milk and yogurt

    • Sweets, such as cookies, pastries, cakes and candy

    • Snack foods, such as potato chips

    To find the carb content of a food, check the amount of total carbohydrate on the food label. Be sure to look at the serving amount as well. If youre eating twice as much as the listed serving, youll need to double the total carbs. If a food doesnt have a label, there are many apps and books available to help you track carbs. One great free tool is MyFoodAdvisor from the American Diabetes Association. At first, you may need to look up almost everything. But with time, youll start to learn how many carbs are in your favorite foods and dishes.

    Managing Diabetes & Counting Daily Carbs

    When carbs get digested , 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 doesnt 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. Thats 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.

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