What Is Carbohydrate Counting?Carbohydrate counting is a method of keeping track of the number of carbohydrates you eat at each meal. Carbohydrates from your food get digested and absorbed as a sugar, known as glucose. Counting carbohydrates allows you to be aware of how food will affect your blood glucose. This is important if you need to manage your blood sugar levels.
Why Should I Use the Carbohydrate-Counting Method?Carbohydrate counting is particularly useful for people who take insulin shots since it allows you to balance food intake with insulin. The more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your blood sugar will be, and the more insulin you will need. Of course, always ask your doctor before adjusting insulin doses on your own.
Carbohydrate-Counting BasicsWhen you eat carbohydrates, your body turns them into glucose. The foods that raise blood glucose the most are those that contain carbohydrates. Foods like starches, milk, fruit, and sweets are considered carbohydrates.Carbohydrates are often classified as simple or complex:
- Simple carbohydrates , or sugars, include table sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, and the sugars found in milk and fruit. These raise blood sugar very quickly.
- Complex carbohydrates , or starches, include whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes.
|Types of Carbohydrates||Healthy Choices||Foods to Limit or Avoid|
|Simple Carbohydrates|| || |
|Complex Carbohydrates|| ||Refined starches like white flour, white flour products, and white rice.|
How Much Is One Serving of Carbohydrates?One carbohydrate serving is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate. This is about the amount of carbohydrate in one slice of bread, 3/4 cup dry, unsweetened cereal,1/2 cup of pasta, one cup of milk, or one small piece of fresh fruit.Since they have similar effects on your blood sugar, they can also be exchanged. This is because these foods are generally considered carbohydrate servings. For example, you may trade one starch serving for one fruit or milk serving.The table below gives examples of foods that have approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
|Food Group||Serving Size and Type of Food|
|Starchy Vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green peas, or green lima beans|| |
|Other||1 medium sugar cookie|
- Dark green leafy lettuce or spinach
- Artichoke hearts
How Much Carbohydrate Can I Eat?Most people with diabetes should consume between 45%-65% of their calories as carbohydrates . The balance can come from fat and protein.There are four calories in every gram of carbohydrate. So, for example, if you are on a 2,000-calorie diet with 50% of your calories coming from carbohydrates, you can have a total of 16 servings of carbohydrate per day.
|Calculating Carbohydrate Servings |
(2,000 Calorie Diet)
|50% of calories from carbohydrates = 1,000 calories|
|1,000 calories divided by 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate = 250 grams|
|250 grams divided by 15 grams carbohydrate per serving = 16.66 servings|