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Carb Counting For Diabetes: 5 Easy Tips

Carbohydrates a.k.a. Carbs come in three kinds- starches, sugars, and fiber. Found in the food and drinks we consume, Carbs are our body’s source of energy. Insulin is used to break down these Carbs into glucose. But in people with diabetes, there is an imbalance of the number of Carbs they consume with the insulin dose- which is why Carb counting for diabetes is crucial.

Carb counting for diabetes might not be as simple as reading the nutritional labels and is both a science and art and learning the carbs in food can be a little challenging especially given how there are hidden carbs. 

When it comes to counting carbs for diabetes, there are certain parameters you need to keep in mind, and here are a few tips on how to be doing it right, especially if you have diabetes. 

1. How do find out the total grams of carbs in your food?

To count carbs, you need to pay attention to two items mentioned in the nutrition facts label- serving size and grams of total carbs.  It includes all kinds of carbs- sugar, starch, and fiber. You need not worry about adding the grams of added sugar as they are included in the number of total carbs. While you need to choose foods rich in nutrients,  opting for unprocessed foods in a natural state such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is recommended if you have diabetes.

2. Be informed about how to read nutrition labels:

While the serving size tells you the amount of the product, the total carbs tell you the number of carbs based on the particular serving size. And total carbohydrates is the sum of dietary fiber, sugars, and net carbs. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the amount of fiber from the total carbs. 

Net Carbs = Total Carbs - Dietary Fiber

3. Know your Carbs:

Carbohydrates are more than just rice and bread. In fact, all kinds of starchy foods, sugars, milk, fruits, and yogurt all contain carbohydrates. Not only should you count them all but figure out the amount of protein and fat you can eat at meals and all the snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Also, don’t miss out on checking sugar alcohol. 

4. Portion size: Check!

While each serving size depends on the kind of food item, you got to be aware of the portion size to keep your diabetes in control. You can purchase a pocket guide that enlists carb counts alongside portion sizes. Or perhaps even use an online tool or mobile app to keep track of the portion sizes that can make carb counting for diabetes easier. While cooking at home, keep in mind to use measuring cups and food scales in order to be accurate. 

5. How much carbs should you eat?

While there isn’t any magic number, carb counting for diabetes is crucial to managing blood sugar levels. The amount of carbs a diabetic person should eat needs to be determined by their body size and activity levels, taking into account their appetite too. Each person’s insulin response might be different so there is no necessity to make your diet more restrictive than necessary to keep blood sugar levels in check. 

While each person needs the energy and nutrients from carbohydrates, you can decide your carb intake throughout the day. It is important to find out what’s right for you as there isn’t any one-size-fits-all model when it comes to managing diabetes. It is, therefore, recommended to take full-fledged advice to accurately count carbs for diabetes, or consult a dietitian or diabetes educator who can help figure out what to eat, how much to eat, based on your diabetes, lifestyle, and blood sugar targets. 


As a new initiative from Lo! Foods to help people with diabetes, you can avail yourself of a FREE 30 minutes long 1:1 consultation with one of the leading Indian nutritionists who specialize in a diabetes diet.