How Many Carbs Should a Diabetic Have a Day?

It is important to understand where our nutrients come from in our foods. Each food contains calories, with varying amounts in the carbohydrate, protein and fat categories. The way a food is prepared determines the amount of calories from fat: a potato that is fried has more fat, as does a potato topped with unhealthy toppings. Meanwhile, chicken that is skinless and sautéed or baked are healthy compared to deep-fried or otherwise prepared. Here's dietary recommendation for diabetes, especially the carbs intake.

How Many Carbs Should a Diabetic Have a Day?

For Type 2 Diabetes

The recommended daily intake of carbohydrates varies depending on how an individual's diabetes is managed. Recommendations for carbs when asking how many carbs should a diabetic have a day can be answered with a 2000-calorie diet and its regular recommendations--typically around 45 to 60 percent are carbs. One gram of carbohydrate provides about 4 calories, so you’ll have to divide the number of calories you want to get from carbohydrates by 4 to get the number of grams. This means around 225 to 300 grams each day. This is based on the recommendation from the American Diabetes Association. This can be adjusted depending on the individual's ideal amount of carbs, and therefore appropriate foods and portions can be planned accordingly.

For Type 1 Diabetes

An individual with Type 1 diabetes who is within recommended weight limits does not have to be concerned about carbohydrate intake. This is because an effect on glycemic control has not been shown in numerous scientific studies. Therefore, the best strategy for individuals with this type of diabetes is to match insulin intake with the amount of carbohydrates consumed at each meal. In order to improve quality of life and general well-being, some controlled trials have shown that counting carbs can be helpful. This can occur without increasing body weight or other concerns. This means that a balanced diet comparable to anyone with similar concerns can be appropriate for an individual with Type 1 Diabetes.

Meal Plans for Low Carb Diets

While the amount of carbohydrates in low-carb diets is not predetermined by researchers, certain definitions can be applied to the plans that are made:

  • ŸModerate means roughly 130 to 225 grams of carbs per day
  • ŸLow means fewer than 130 grams of carbs per day
  • ŸVery low means less than 30 grams of carbs per day; considered a ketogenic diet

For most people, this application is a good measure to use for the typical diet. However, for those looking to start with 120 grams of carbs per day, consider the following diet:

  • Ÿ30 grams of carbs for Breakfast
  • Ÿ30 grams of carbs for Lunch
  • Ÿ30 grams of carbs for Dinner
  • ŸSnacks twice a day at 15 grams of carbs each or three times per day with 10 grams of carbs

For those looking for the best results for weight loss and blood sugar control, consider only 50 to 80 grams of carbs per day. This means roughly 15 to 20 grams of carbs for each meal and two snacks at 5 to 10 grams of carbs for each. With this diet guideline, eating 10 grams of carbs before bed is important.

How to Count Carbs: Home or Away

1. Use Measuring Tools

Food scales and measuring cups can be helpful to ensure you are eating an appropriate portion at each meal. This can be extra helpful if you are to have a ½ cup or one-cup serving.

2. Do Some Free Association

For some people, it helps to have a visual comparison for the size of a serving. For a one-cup serving, it could compare to the size of a baseball or an average size fist. Meanwhile, the size of a CD compares to a waffle or pancake. This can be particularly helpful if you are away from home and trying to determine the appropriate sizes.

3. Tablespoon It

Another tip for eating away from home is to use tablespoons to determine the right size. Four level tablespoons are equal to roughly one quarter cup, while eight tablespoons is equivalent to one-half cup.

4. Do Your Homework

Being informed is an easier way to determine portions. Check out the menu of a restaurant you will be visiting online while at home. Compare nutrition and other details before committing to order a certain item.

5. Do the Deep Freeze

For grocery shopping help, check out the freezer section and the comparable sized food items. You can also compare this information with meals at restaurants.

6. Mind the Proportions

For certain dishes, the amount of grains and starches included can mean a higher amount of carbs. A soup with a thicker base and more beans and noodles will account for more carbs in your meal.

7. Use Mobile Apps

Now that dieting and calorie counting are important, the correlating technology of apps is available on mobile phones and other devices. Certain apps not only can help with calorie and carb counting, but also provide nutritional details for foods you might consume at a restaurant or purchase at the grocery store. With an app always available on your phone, you can easily answer how many carbs should a diabetic have a day.

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