How many carbohydrates should I be consuming daily?

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How many carbohydrates should I be consuming daily?

Question: How many carbs should I be consuming daily?



Answer: Thank you so much for your question. Perhaps the first thing your doctor said to you when you were diagnosed with diabetes was "cut out the sugar and watch your carbs".  Of the three macronutrients in the diet (protein, carbs and fat) carbohydrates have the greatest impact on your blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the amount of carbs you are eating throughout the day in your meals and snacks. Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) provide the main source of fuel for the body, so people with diabetes should not be on a "carb free" diet.  However, many people with diabetes find it is much easier to control blood sugar levels when they limit the amount of carbs they consume throughout the course of the day. Carbs are found in a variety of foods, such as fruits and some starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans. Dairy products and pasta as well as certain less nutrient dense foods such as cookies and candy (which are also very high in calories) are other sources of carbohydrate as well. Some meal plans (including those recommended through the American Diabetes Association website), suggest eating between 40-60 g of carb per meal, and no more than 10-15 g of carb per snack.  The amount of carbs you specifically require will also depend on your activity level (if you are physically active, you will require more carbs for fuel). Additionally, if you need to lose weight, you may need to eat fewer carbs and calories. Remember that when choosing carbs, you should consider nutrient quality. For example, fruits and vegetables provide a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber while a candy bar has very little nutritional value.

For a comprehensive view of carbohydrate counting, and carb selection, please view this link on the Joslin Diabetes Center Website.

It is very difficult to recommend a "specific" amount of carbs to eat per day, without knowing more about your overall diabetes control and physical activity level. I strongly recommend working with a registered dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator, so that you can devise a meal plan, which specifically meets your nutritional needs (including carbs. protein, fat and calories). Additionally, there are many other factors to consider when planning a diet. The amount of fat and fiber you consume along with your carbs can affect your blood sugar levels.