How Much Carbohydrate Is Right For Diabetics?
The American Diabetes Association doesn’t recommend a certain amount or range of carbohydrate that all people with diabetes should aim for each day. The first step to carbohydrate counting is to figure out how many grams of carbohydrate your body needs each day and at each meal. When you have carbohydrate goals in place, you can begin tracking the amount of carbohydrate you eat to make sure you don’t exceed your goals.
In order to better understand and work toward your carbohydrate goals, it can be helpful to first honestly track the amount of carbohydrate in what you normally eat throughout the day. Many people may find that they’re already within their carbohydrate goals at some meals, but there may be one meal or time of day where what they normally eat exceeds their carbohydrate goals. When they know this, they can focus on meeting their carbohydrate goals for that meal first; this is a good starting point that can provide a lot of benefit in terms of blood glucose management without feeling too overwhelming.
The amount of carbohydrate that is right for you is based on your individual needs. Determining the right amount for you depends on many different factors including your physical activity level; your eating patterns; your culture, lifestyle, and preferences; and what, if any, medicines you take. The amount of carbohydrate you eat per day should also help you achieve your diabetes goals; for example, if you want to lose weight in addition to lowering your blood glucose, your carbohydrate goals should take that into account. Some people can eat more carbohydrate than others and still keep their blood glucose levels in their target range. Finding the right balance of carbohydrate for you can provide you more control over blood glucose levels, potentially lower your risk of diabetes complications, and help you feel your best.
Discuss your personal carbohydrate needs with a registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or your diabetes care team. A diabetes nutrition professional can help you determine how many grams of carbohydrate are right for you per day, how to split those grams between your meals, and if and where snacks might fit in your daily carbohydrate goals.
Your carbohydrate needs may change over time. You may need to adjust your carbohydrate goals if your weight, activity level, or medications change. As your diabetes progresses, it may become more difficult to manage your blood glucose using the same methods you first did and your carbohydrate goals may need to change at certain meals or over the course of the day. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your carbohydrate intake with your healthcare team!