|Target blood sugar level 2 hours after eating|
|Non-pregnant adults||180 mg/dL or less|
|Pregnant women with gestational diabetes||120 mg/dL or less|
|Pregnant women with pre-existing type 1 or type 2 diabetes||120 mg/dL or less|
How do you plan your carb consumption?
Planning out your daily meals can help you ensure that you balance your carb intake properly.
Goals to keep in mind:
- 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal or less
- 15 to 30 grams of carbs per snack or less
Nutrition labels on packaged foods always list the amount of carbs per serving. If the food does not have a label, refer to the food magazine application. These apps allow you to enter foods and serving sizes to find the approximate number of carbs they contain.
It is helpful to combine carbs with protein and fat. Doing so will slow the absorption of glucose in your blood.
Some individuals may benefit from eating the same amount of carbs at each meal. This can help take the guesswork out of administering your insulin medication, especially if you’re on a fixed dose.
How do you choose which carbs to eat?
It’s best to choose complex carbs over refined or simple carbs.
Refined carbs are a processed and stripped-out source of important nutrients like fiber, folate, and iron.
Most processed and packaged foods fall into this category. Some examples include:
- white bread
- Crunchy biscuits
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are slower-burning starches like whole grains. They contain more nutrients than simple carbs. They also typically contain more fiber, which can make you feel fuller for longer.
Examples of complex carbs include:
- Brown rice
It’s important to keep portion sizes in mind when eating complex carbs.
Use the glycemic index as a guide
The glycemic index (GI) is a system that ranks foods based on how quickly they cause your blood sugar to rise.
High GI foods, like refined carbs, cause your blood sugar to rise faster than low GI foods, like complex carbs.
If you eat something with a higher GI, pair it with a lower GI food. This will help lessen its effect on your blood sugar.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Studies have shown that eating a low-carb breakfast can help improve weight and blood sugar levels. Other studies show that a high-fat, high-protein breakfast can help lower blood sugar levels throughout the day.
- Eating a high-fiber lunch with lots of vegetables and whole grains will help you stay healthy throughout the afternoon.
- Eat a dinner with plenty of lean protein, green vegetables, and a portion of complex carbs. This type of meal is very complete and rich in nutrients.
- Juice, milk, soft drinks, and alcohol are often high in carbs. If you’re restricting your carb intake, these drinks can count for a lot. Stick to water, carbonated water, coffee and tea.
You don’t have to plan your meals alone. A dietitian can help you choose a plan that fits your budget, preferences, and needs.
Sample meal plan
This sample meal plan provides about 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal and 15 to 30 grams of carbs per snack.
The number of carbs for each item is listed in parentheses.
- 3 eggs with two slices of wholemeal toast, lettuce, tomato (30 g)
- 1 small piece of fruit (15 g)
Total carbohydrates: 45 g
- Salad with lettuce, cucumber, carrot, 1/4 avocado (5 g)
- 1 cup low sodium lentil soup (30 g)
- 3 cups popcorn (15 g)
Total carbohydrates: 50g
- 1 small apple (15 g)
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter (3 g)
Total carbohydrates: 18 g
- Grilled Salmon 4 oz (0 g)
- 1 cup grilled asparagus with 1/2 cup cannellini beans (20 g)
- 1 large sweet potato (35 g)
Total carbohydrates: 55 g
- 1 fat-free Greek yogurt (7 g)
- 3/4 cup blueberries (15 g)
Total carbohydrates: 22 g
Includes sugar, fat and protein
When tracking your carbs, it’s important to pay attention to sugar, fat, and protein.
Sugar can have a place in a low-carb diet. Be aware, however, that it has zero nutrient density. This means it has no vitamins or minerals.
High-quality fats and proteins play a big role in diabetes management. They provide energy and can slow the entry of glucose into the bloodstream.
How much added sugar is right for you?
There are no current guidelines for added sugars for adults with diabetes.
As a point of reference, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults without diabetes get no more than 10% of their calories from added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends a lower limit of no more than 6% of daily calories from added sugars.
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
If you have diabetes, you will need to work with your healthcare provider to find the right daily amount of added sugar. A dietitian or CDE can also help make this decision.
Add fat and protein
Protein and healthy fats help you feel fuller for longer. Adding these foods to your diet can help your body control blood sugar levels.
- Meat, such as poultry, fish and lean red meat
- Beans and legumes
- Soy bean, templesand tofu
- Nuts and seeds
- Butter and avocado oil
- Olive oil and olives
- Nuts and nut butters
- Nuts, such as sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
- High-quality, full-fat, grass-fed dairy products
A dietitian or other professional can help you find the ideal carb intake for blood sugar management. Checking the glycemic index for the foods you’re considering eating can help you make informed choices.
If possible, try to avoid eating refined carbs like white bread and white rice because they lack important nutrients. Instead, choose complex carbs like whole grains and vegetables, which are more nutrient-dense and help you feel full.
Finally, limit your intake of sugar and make sure to eat protein and healthy fats.
A very good word
Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) is an effective tool that provides resources and support to individuals with diabetes. This can be especially helpful if you are newly diagnosed.
DSME has been shown to help improve diabetes. If you have not received this type of education, ask your health care provider where you can find a certified diabetes educator.
frequently asked Questions
How many carbs should a person eat each day if they don’t have diabetes?
Most people should aim to get 45% to 65% of their daily calories from carbs.
What is a low-carb diet considered to be?
There is no exact definition of low-carb. A diet where you get less than 45% to 65% of your daily calories from recommended carbohydrates can be considered low-carb.
Is 100 carbs per day considered low carb?
Right. These can be considered low carb.
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