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How Many Carbs Per Meal For Diabetes Type 2


T2 Diabetic Carbs Per Day Recommendations

How Many Carbs Do I Need to Eat for Type 2 Diabetes?

Did you know that one of the most commonly asked questions we get is how many carbs per day is best for a diabetic to eat?

And like many other people you may also be totally confused by that question?

Its not surprising because the amount of carbs recommended does vary depending on where you read it or who tells you.

Why is this?


Well, believe it or not, no specific carbs per day recommendation has been set for people with type 2 diabetes thats why there are so many different numbers.

So what we are going to share today is:

  • A range of information
  • Some view points for you to consider carefully
  • The latest scientific research on carbs
  • The experience of other people with diabetes

Here at DMP we use a natural whole foods, lower carb approach and encourage our subscribers and members to aim for around 50-80 g carbs per day.

This is quite low compared to some recommendations, but not so low as others, for instance, a ketogenic diet of just 20 grams/day average.

However, if you find 50-80 grams per day is a little low for you, research shows that anything below 130 grams per day, which is still considered a low carb diet, can provide benefits for managing blood sugar and A1c. But 50-80 grams a day seems to achieve better results.


Its also an attainable and sustainable goal for many, as a super low carb diet is often harder to stick with long term and we do want you to adopt this new healthy eating plan as your way of life, not just as a diet youre on for a short time.

What’s The Connection Between Carbs Insulin And Blood Sugar

You might be wondering why your care team is so concerned about carb counting, and why it’s important to space out the carbs you eat over the day. Here’s why: When you eat foods with carbohydrates, the carbohydrate is broken down into glucose , which enters your bloodstream, raising the amount of sugar in your blood. This signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin then takes the sugar from your blood to your cells to be used for energy. Subsequently, the amount of sugar in your blood comes down. The next time you eat, this process happens again.

If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin properly, making it hard for your body to regulate the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. Because carbohydrates cause your blood sugar to rise, controlling your intake of carbohydrates helps control your blood sugar as well.

But here’s a little tip: While there are three types of carbohydrates-sugar, fiber and starch-they are not all digested the same.

Nonstarchy vegetables contain mostly fiber and little to no sugar, so they don’t raise your blood sugar very high and therefore, not as much insulin needs to be released.


In contrast, fruit juice, soda and refined grains , contain little to no fiber, so they spike your blood sugar and more insulin is released. The glycemic index further explains the effect that different foods have on your blood sugar level, but eating a healthy, low-carb, vegetable-packed diet is a good place to start.

How Many Carbs Per Meal

Some people with diabetes will find they can tolerate a moderate amount of carbs every day, while others need to keep within a tighter range in order to maintain their optimal blood sugar levels.

In general, weve found that the sweet spot is usually around 50-80g of net carbs per day, with 100g per day as the maximum. In terms of total carbs, this would probably be around 70-130 grams per day.

Of course, some people eat a ketogenic diet, which is under 50 grams, but weve found it isnt necessary to take your carbs that low, and you can still achieve the same results with more variety in your eating plan.

If you want to figure out how many carbohydrates you can consume per meal, simply take your daily carb goal in grams and divide it by the number of meals you eat in a day.


For this example, we will aim for a goal of 70g of carbs per day and assume that 3 meals and 2 snacks will be eaten throughout the day.

A total of 70g of carbs per day divided over three meals and two small snacks could look like this:

  • Breakfast: 20g carbs
  • Afternoon Snack: 5g carbs
  • Dinner: 20g carbs

This is just an example. Of course every day and every meal may vary but you can use the model to tailor your menu to meet your personal needs and goals, but generally your carbs should be divided up throughout the day.

If you save all of your carbs until nighttime, for example, and then binge on a huge bowl of pasta, its a guarantee that youll have high blood sugar levels afterwards.

Also Check: Which Pancreatic Cells Release Insulin And Glucagon


Research On Very Low Calorie Diets

Research shows that caloric restriction can help people with type 2 diabetes achieve non-diabetic glucose levels.

One 8-week very low calorie diet study, found that 87% of patients having diabetes < 4 years and 50% of patients having diabetes > 8 years, saw clinical improvements in fasting blood sugar levels, with a 50% chance of eliminating all diabetes therapies, including medication.

A 2017 clinical trial, randomized people with type 2 diabetes to follow either the standard diabetes diet or a very low calorie diet for 12 to 20 weeks.

The results of the study showed a large percentage of the calorie restricted group lost over 30 pounds/15 kg, and 46% achieved complete diabetes remission.

An important thing to note is that the low calorie diet was also a low carbohydrate diet, containing between 122 to 126 grams of carbs per day. Even the diet recommended to participants after the study, was you guessed it low carb!


While the results for very low calorie diets are very impressive, you must have clinical guidance to follow a diet so low in calories .

Beyond needing clinical guidance, very low calorie diets are not sustainable long term. And restricting calories that low will inevitably lead to fatigue, along with the potential for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

The good news is that low carb diets are equally effective for achieving diabetes remission, without the need to restrict calories so low!

A Low Carb Approach For Diabetes

T2 Diabetic Carbs Per Day Recommendations

A low carbohydrate diet generally limits grains, starchy vegetables, breads, and sweets. And of course, the focus is on fresh foods over packaged and processed foods.

While low carbohydrate intake does increase your fat intake, this is still different from a ketogenic diet, which recommends an even lower carbohydrate and higher fat consumption.


Here are some general guidelines for how each diet is classified in terms of carb intake, based on a 2000 calorie diet:

  • Very low carb/ ketogenic diet: 20-50 g per day. Below 10% total energy intake.
  • Low carbohydrate diet: Below 130 g per day. Below 26% total energy intake.
  • Moderate carbohydrate diet: 26-45% total energy intake.
  • High carbohydrate diet : Above 45% total energy intake.

We encourage a low carb diet below 130 g per day, but on the lower side: 50-80 g per day seems to be a sweet spot for most people to comfortably follow.

This gives you ample room to include variety of carbs such as veggies and lower carb fruits, and still get great results with blood sugar and A1c control.

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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.

Are Carbohydrates Good Or Bad For Diabetics

Because the body turns carbohydrates into glucose, eating carbohydrates makes blood sugar levels rise. But that doesnt mean you should avoid carbohydrates if you have diabetes. Carbohydrates are a healthy and important part of a nutritious diet. Some carbohydrates have more health benefits than others, though.

Read Also: What Do You Do If You Take Too Much Insulin


How Many Carbs Per Day

A typical Western diet consists of about 60% of energy coming from carbs up to 300 grams of carbs every day.

In our experience, consuming this many carbs makes it extremely difficult to gain good blood sugar control.

As a contrast, we encourage people to aim for 50-120g of carbs per day, which is about 10-25% of your daily energy needs.

As you reduce your carb intake, youll notice that you naturally steer towards more proteins and fats, which is good for satisfying appetite and blood sugar stability too.

These numbers can be difficult to conceptualize if youre not used to thinking in terms of grams and percentages, so lets take a look at how 50-100g of carbs breaks down over the course of a day. Weve got two examples here, one with a goal of 100 grams of carbs per day, and one with a goal of 50 grams .


50g Carbs Per Day:

  • 2 Snacks: 10 g carbs each

100g Carbs Per Day:

  • 2-3 Snacks: 10 g carbs each

How Many Carbs Should A Type 2 Diabetic Eat Per Day

How Many Carbohydrates(carbs) should a diabetic eat?

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.


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What Are The Different Types Of Carbs

There are 3 types of carbs:

  • Sugars, such as the natural sugar in fruit and milk or the added sugar in soda and many other packaged foods.
  • Starches, including wheat, oats, and other grains starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes and dried beans, lentils, and peas.
  • Fiber, the part of plant foods that isnt digested but helps you stay healthy.
  • Sugars and starches raise your blood sugar, but fiber doesnt.

    Very Low Carb Ketogenic Diets

    Very low carb diets typically induce mild to moderate ketosis, a state in which your body uses ketones and fat, rather than sugar, as its main energy sources.

    Ketosis usually occurs at a daily intake of fewer than 50 or 30 grams of total or digestible carbs , respectively. This equates to no more than 10% of calories on a 2,000-calorie diet.


    Very low carb, ketogenic diets have been prescribed for people with diabetes even before insulin was discovered in 1921 .

    Several studies indicate that restricting carb intake to 2050 grams of carbs per day can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and improve heart health in people with diabetes .

    In addition, these improvements often occur very quickly.

    For instance, in a study in people with obesity and diabetes, limiting carbs to 21 grams per day for 2 weeks led to a spontaneous decrease in calorie intake, lower blood sugar levels, and a 75% increase in insulin sensitivity .

    In a small, 3-month study, people consumed a calorie-restricted, low fat diet or a low carb diet containing up to 50 grams of carbs per day.

    The low carb group averaged a 0.6% decrease in HbA1c and lost over twice as much weight as the low fat group. Whats more, 44% of them discontinued at least one diabetes medication, compared with 11% of the low fat group .

    In fact, in several studies, insulin and other diabetes medications have been reduced or discontinued due to improvements in blood sugar control (

    19 ).

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    Where To Get Started With Carbs

    Since most people usually have to lower carb intake quite a bit, 120 grams per day is often a comfortable place to start and then you can tweak and reduce your own individual intake from there.

    A Word Of Caution!

    If you are on insulin therapy or blood sugar-lowering medication, it is important to discuss your dietary changes with your healthcare team before making any changes. You may need to make adjustments to your medications and a fast rapid change in carbohydrate intake can result in hypoglycemia. Monitor your blood sugar levels closely when making dietary transitions and be aware of symptoms.

    So lets break 120 grams down per meal so you can see what that might look like.

    Carbs per meal

    • Dinner: 30 g crabs
    • 2 x snacks: 15 g carbs each or 3 x snacks 10 g carbs each

    This tends to work fairly well for the majority of people when getting started. And if you find this is a comfortable place for you over the long term, it can still work okay too.

    The idea is you want to be able to sustain a diet, not go on a diet for 6 months and then switch back to old habits. So keep that in mind as you make changes.

    What About Sugar Alcohols

    How Many Carbs Per Day For A Diabetic?

    Sugar alcohols, such as mannitol and sorbitol, are carbohydrates that are absorbed very slowly and therefore affect your blood sugar significantly less than sugars and starches. Because of this, they are often used as sweeteners in sugar-free foods. Sugar alcohols are not “free,” and must still be counted as part of the total carbohydrate content of any food. Too many sugar alcohols can lead to diarrhea.

    Also Check: Can Type 2 Diabetics Eat Bananas

    How Many Carbs Should You Eat In Each Meal

    Half of each meal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you get between 45% and 65% of your calories from carbs. You could think of this as half your plate at each meal can be taken up by carbs.

    Carbohydrates in grams. To be more precise, count the carbs. You can see how many grams of carbohydrates are in packaged foods by reading the nutrition facts labels. For non-packaged foods, you can look this information up online.

    The Recommended Daily Allowance for carbs is 130 grams per day. Per meal this comes to about:

    • 60-75 grams of carbohydrates per meal for men
    • 45-60 grams per meal for women

    Carbohydrate choices. This can help you eyeball the number of carbs youâre going to eat once you know approximately how many carbs are in different foods. Using this method, you have a certain amount of âcarb choicesâ you can have in a meal or snack.

    • Men can have 4 to 5 carb choices per meal
    • Women can have 3 to 4 carb choices per meal
    • Whether youâre a man or woman, snacks should be 1 or 2 carb choices

    So what is a “carb choice” or serving of carbs? A carb choice is an amount of food that has about 15 grams of carbs in it.

    For example, 1 slice of bread is one carb choice. But 1/4 of a large baked potato is also one carb choice. So having a whole baked potato could blow your whole carb choice budget for one meal.

    You can find lists of carb choices for different foods online. You can also ask a nutritionist or diabetes instructor.

    How Many Added Sugars Are Right For You

    Keep an eye on added sugars in packaged foods, which can be the biggest culprit when it comes to empty carbs.

    The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, jointly published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommend that no more than 10% of calories come from added sugar:

    Specifically, that looks like:

    • No more than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of added sugar for adult women without diabetes
    • No more than 9 teaspoons or 37.5 grams of added sugar for adult men without diabetes

    Other expert groups, including the American Heart Association , recommend a lower limit of daily sugar intake. AHA specifically recommends that no more than 6% of daily calories from from added sugars.

    There are no current recommendations for added sugars for adults with diabetes. If you have diabetes, work with your care provider and dietitian, nutritionist, or CDE to determine the daily amount of added sugar that’s right for you.

    Read Also: Can You Get Diabetes If You Re Skinny

    Per Meal Carbohydrate Breakdown

    Different people will feel comfortable with different levels of carbs per day. As you get more familiar with the eating plan, your body will tell you what feels best for you.

    Carbs per meal 120g per day

    • Breakfast: 30 g carbs
    • Dinner: 10g
    • 2 snacks: 10 g carbs each

    In most cases, every meal you eat each day will not be an exact amount at every meal, but your overall daily carb intake would still be considered in a low carb range when you add it all up.

    While some people like to count exactly how much they eat every day, it is not necessary. If you stick to the low carb diet guidelines above, you will find your carbohydrate will naturally fall within the low carb range.

    Your carbohydrate intake may fluctuate daily and thats normal as we all consume different meal combinations each day.

    A Word Of Caution!

    If you are on insulin therapy, it is important to lower your carb intake under close supervision of your health practitioner because you will have to make adjustments to your dosage and a fast rapid change can result in hypoglycemia. Monitor your blood sugar levels closely when making dietary transitions and be aware of symptoms.

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