How To Determine How Much Carbs Are In Food
You will need to learn to estimate the amount of carbohydrate in foods you typically eat. For example, the following amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods each contain about 15 grams of carbohydrate:
- one slice of bread
- 1/3 cup of pasta
- 1/3 cup of rice
- 1/2 cup of canned or fresh fruit or fruit juice or one small piece of fresh fruit, such as a small apple or orange
- 1/2 cup of pinto beans
- 1/2 cup of starchy vegetables such as mashed potatoes, cooked corn, peas, or Lima beans
- 3/4 cup of dry cereal or 1/2 cup cooked cereal
- 1 tablespoon of jelly
Some foods are so low in carbohydrates that you may not have to count them unless you eat large amounts. For example, most non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked non-starchy vegetables or a cup of raw vegetables has only about 5 grams of carbohydrates.
As time passes and you become familiar with which foods contain carbohydrates and how many grams of carbohydrates are in the food you eat, carbohydrate counting will be easier.
Before long it will be just a normal part of your day.
If Youre Living With Type 1 Diabetes Carbohydrate Counting Or Carb Counting Is An Effective Way Of Managing Your Blood Sugar Levels It Means That Your Insulin Dose Can Be Individually Matched To The Amount Of Carbohydrate You Eat And Drink
Being aware of the amount of carbs in food and drinks is important for everyone with diabetes, but carb counting is really helpful if you use basal and bolus insulin.
Although carb counting does take up a lot of time and effort, once you’ve got the hang of it, it can lead to better blood sugar control and more flexibility when you eat. It doesn’t mean total freedom but does mean that special occasions and treats can be more easily looked after so you can adjust your insulin to match.
Say Hello To The Carb Counting Bible
Carbs & Cals is nationally recognised as the leading carb counting resource for people with type 1 diabetes. It has been the number 1 bestselling carb counting book on Amazon for 6 years running, and our products have received more than 2,000 five-star reviews.
The Carbs & Cals method is both revolutionary and incredibly simple. We show thousands of food photos with the carb values clearly shown for each image. This visual approach makes it highly effective for learning how to count carbs and manage your type 1 diabetes. Lets get your carb counting skills sorted!
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Tips For Carb Counting With Type 1 Diabetes
Carbohydrates, or carbs, are nutrients found in the food we eat and drink. They are the bodys source of energy when your digestive system, with the help of insulin, breaks them down into glucose. People with type 1 diabetes must balance the amount of carbs they consume with the right dose of insulin. Thats why carb counting is so important. It is often said that to manage type 1 diabetes we have to be doctors, mathematicians, personal trainers, and dietitians, all at the same time. This is definitely true when it comes to counting carbohydrates, but with some basic knowledge and practice, carb counting can become second nature! Here are six ways to improve your carb counting:
How Many Carbs Should A Person With Diabetes Have In A Day
Studies have shown that many different levels of carb intake may help manage blood sugar, and the optimal amount of carbs varies by individual.
The American Diabetes Association used to recommend that people with diabetes get around 45% of their calories from carbs.
However, the ADA now promotes an individualized approach in which your ideal carb intake should take into account your dietary preferences and metabolic goals .
Its important to eat the number of carbs at which you feel best and that you can realistically maintain in the long term.
The typical American diet provides around 2,200 calories per day, with 50% of them coming from carbs. This is equivalent to 275 grams of carbs per day .
A severely restricted intake of less than 50 grams of carbs per day appears to produce the most dramatic results and may reduce or even eliminate the need for insulin or diabetes medication. This represents 910% of daily calories on a 2,0002,200-calorie diet .
When tracking carb intake, experts sometimes recommend focusing on your net carbs instead of the total amount of carbs you eat. Net carbs is total grams of carbs minus grams of fiber .
People with diabetes can also benefit from diets that allow up to 26% of their daily calories to come from carbs. For people who eat 2,0002,200 calories a day, this is equivalent to 130143 grams of carbs .
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My Carb Countin’ Story
For the first ten years of my life with type 1 diabetes, I hadnt a notion about what I was doing or why. I took insulin as directed, checked blood glucose as directed and I had an exchange list of foods I never ate.
Then, I moved to America where I met a diabetes educator who taught me about measuring carbs and adjusting my doses of insulin to match the food I was going to eat but also how to adjust for glucose levels that were too high or too low. Before this point it NEV-ER occurred to me that there may be a way to do this!!!
Also, because this was 2003, I used a sliding scale for correcting high and low glucose levels which I adjusted myself and then once I began using an insulin pump I graduated onto an insulin sensitivity/correction factor.
Fine tuning one of the biggest variables of living with type 1 diabetes made a huge difference in my diabetes management. And the most empowering one! I was doing it by myself, and not waiting on a six month appointment where I was told how much to increase/decrease my insulin doses. My appointments were a bit smoother too as I took more of the control.
How To Read A Nutrition Label For Carb Counting
If we look at our nutrition label, there are two things we want to look at, and only two. First is serving size, and the second is total carbohydrate.
For example, if a food label says a serving size is 1/2 cup, and total carbohydrates equal 13 grams, there are 13 grams for each 1/2 cup eaten. If you eat a cup, youll have consumed 26 grams of carbs.
A few ways people may make errors when reading nutrition labels is to equate the sugar with carbohydrates. Especially when a person with Type 1 diabetes is newly diagnosed, sugar can seem like the scary thing you need to stay away from. However, lets say there are 3 grams of sugar in the food example we just explored. If you eat 1/2 cup and dose for 3 grams of sugar instead of the 13 grams of carbohydrates, youll miss out a large dose of insulin.
Another issue for nutrition label reading for people with Type 1 diabetes is the concept of net carbohydrates. This concept is spread widely through health blogs as well as in the Type 2 diabetes community. Its the idea of subtracting the total amount of dietary fiber from the total grams of carbohydrates. While this is a good technique for people living with Type 2 diabetes, it can cause children with Type 1 to get less insulin than they need for the amount of carbs theyve eaten.
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Why Should I Count Carbs
Carb counting is a flexible way to eat the foods you enjoy while maintaining a low-carb diet. It also helps you learn how certain foods affect your blood sugar so you can match the foods you eat to your insulin dose.
The three types of carbohydrates found in food are:
Sugar is a type of simple carbohydrate, meaning the body breaks it down quickly. This can cause blood glucose levels to rise and fall at very fast rates. Sugar is naturally found in fruits and milk. It’s also frequently added to packaged foods like candy and sodas.
Starches are found naturally in many foods that we eat. This includes bread, pasta, rice, and certain vegetables, like potatoes and corn.
Aim for consuming whole, minimally processed starches. Whole grains provide fiber and other vitamins and minerals essential for good health. Try to get at least half of your daily starch intake from whole grains such as brown rice, oats, and quinoa.
Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that the body can’t digest. It helps you feel full and slows digestion. Foods high in fiber can reduce your risk of heart disease and help to manage blood sugar. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Why Is Carb Counting Important
A study by Barton Center for Diabetes Education Data Center looked at 48 individuals, ages 12 to 18. Participants were given a carbohydrate estimation survey. Only 23% of them were able to estimate within 10 grams the true amount of carbs in a food. This age group may be newly diagnosed, or they just now are gaining their own independence with their care and diet management. The individuals who most accurately estimated their carbs had the lowest A1C levels, a measure of blood sugar. There is a strong correlation between knowing carb counting and overall A1C blood sugar control.
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What’s The Right Amount Of Carbs To Eat
Most adults with diabetes should aim to get 4560 grams of carbs per meal and 1530 grams of carbs per snack.
- 3 cups of raw vegetables
- half of a potato or a similar portion of other starchy vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables, including carrots, asparagus, and leafy greens like broccoli and spinach, are much lower in carbohydrates than starchy vegetables. For instance, one-half cup of cooked broccoli contains just 5 grams of carbohydrates.
Protein and fat sources do not contain enough carbohydrates to count toward your daily allowance. However, they are important to include in each meal to slow the uptake of glucose in your bloodstream and provide you with energy.
How Are Carbs Measured
Carbs are measured in grams. On packaged foods, you can find total carb grams on the Nutrition Facts label. You can also check this list or use a carb-counting app to find grams of carbs in foods and drinks.
For diabetes meal planning, 1 carb serving is about 15 grams of carbs. This isnt always the same as what you think of as a serving of food. For example, most people would count a small baked potato as 1 serving. However, at about 30 grams of carbs, it counts as 2 carb servings.
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What Are The Different Types Of Carbs
There are 3 types of carbs:
Sugars and starches raise your blood sugar, but fiber doesnt.
Measuring Portion Sizes For Carb Counting On The Go
Were not always the best at estimating portion sizes and we dont always carry measuring cups with us when were out and about. But using our hands as a visual portion guide while were out to eat can help us gauge how much were about to eat to start our carb counting. For example, you go to a steakhouse and get a steak with mashed potatoes and broccoli as sides. The size of the steak and the serving size of broccoli and mashed potatoes arent uniform. Your best guess using your hands can help you estimate your portions:
- Front of your closed fist: 1/2 cup
- Clenched fist: 1 cup serving
- Palm of the hand: 3 to 4 ounces, standard serving of meat
- Fingertip: 1 teaspoon
- Thumb: About two tablespoons
Eric Davenport, R.D., L.D., CDE, MLDE, is a is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center.
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Things You Should Consider When Counting Carbohydrates:
- Pay attention to when you are going to eat carbohydrates and what activity you are going to do afterward. This will allow you to choose the best type of carbohydrate according to its absorption. You can use the glycemic index tables as a guide.
- Learning to read labels makes it easy to count carbohydrates on packaged food. A useful recommendation is to measure and weigh the foods that are not labeled to develop an eye. In any case, from time to time you should take up weighing food again so as not to be overconfident since, in the long run, that could lead you to miscalculate.
- Double-check the labels. Many times, we think that a certain product has an x amount of carbohydrates, but over time manufacturers can change the composition of said food and modify the number of carbohydrates on the label.
Diabetes education includes providing tools to develop skills and abilities to learn to make decisions, and these decisions include diet.
Educational Program On Carbohydrate Counting
With the discovery of insulin, researchers recognised that the total amount of dietary carbohydrates should be used to determine the need for insulin at meals. In the 1980s, the conventional insulin therapy imposed very rigid eating patterns with restricted and controlled carbohydrates portions. Subsequently, in the 1990s, the Diabetes Control and Complication Trial was a turning point for the treatment of diabetes. From this study, it was found that intensive insulin therapy, using multiple daily injection or insulin pumps , improved glycaemic control and reduced complications related to the disease. In the DCTT, CC, one of the methods of meal planning, was considered effective in achieving good glycaemic control and allowing more flexibility in food choices .
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What Foods Contain Carbs
There are plenty of foods that contain carbohydrates in varying amounts.
- grains such as bread, noodles, pasta, crackers, cereals, and rice
- fruits such as apples, bananas, berries, mangoes, melons, and oranges
- dairy products such as milk and yogurt
- legumes including dried beans, lentils, and peas
- snack foods and sweets such as cakes, cookies, candy, and other desserts
- juices, soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks that contain sugars
- vegetables, especially starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and peas
Potatoes, peas, and corn are called starchy vegetables because they are high in starch. These vegetables have more carbohydrates per serving than non-starchy vegetables.
Examples of non-starchy vegetables are asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce and other salad greens, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Foods that do not contain carbohydrates include meat, fish, and poultry most types of cheese nuts and oils and other fats.
How To Count Carbs For Type 1 Diabetics
Carbohydrate counting, or carb counting, is a form of meal planning that helps many people living with Type 1 diabetes to manage their food intake and blood sugar. It involves counting the number of carb grams in a meal and matching that to the insulin dose to regulate the blood sugar. Consuming an excess of certain foods might result in persistent high blood sugar that can lead to severe complications, such as nerve damage, vision andhearing loss and cardiovascular disease.
Healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are an important part of a healthy eating plan because they provide energy, nutrients and fiber. Unhealthy carbohydrates are food and drinks with added sugars. They provide energy but have little to no nutrients.
Carb counting can help to control the blood glucose levels as carbohydrates affect the blood glucose more than other nutrients. To count carbs, youll need to estimate the number of grams of carbohydrate in the foods you eat, add them up at each meal , to get your total for the day. The key step in carb counting is identifying which foods contain carbohydrates and how rapidly these carbohydrates will boost blood sugar levels. You can use a system called the Glycemic Index to calculate this. Every food has a GI, with higher scores demonstrating a foods rapid effect on blood sugar. Consuming low-GI foods can lead to a slower, more controllable increase in blood glucose levels.
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Twice Daily Mixed Insulin Regimen
Insulin used twice daily may contain a mixture of shorter and intermediate acting insulin e.g. Humulin M3 Novomix 30 and is taken twice a day at breakfast and evening meal. Individuals who are on this regimen, are unable to adjust their insulin, but carbohydrate counting can be applied to maintain similar amounts at meals.
How Do I Understand More About Carbohydrate Counting
The best way to learn carbohydrate counting is to take part in a carbohydrate counting course.
If you are on insulin, would like to go on a carbohydrate counting course and have not been on one of these courses in recent years, your GP, diabetes consultant or diabetes specialist nurse can refer you onto one of these courses.
Examples of nationwide carbohydrate counting courses include:
Your diabetes health team should also be able to arrange one-to-one guidance on carbohydrate counting if you need help at any time.
The Low Carb Program is an online education program launched by Diabetes.co.uk that explains the impact of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels.
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To Best Control Your Blood Sugar:
- Eat three meals a day, roughly 46 hours apart.
- Do not skip meals.
- Try to consistently eat the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal.
Counting calories might be something youve already done at one time or another in your life. Counting carbohydrates may be something new to you. So why is counting carbohydrates so important when you have diabetes?