Diabetes carb counting made easy

Diabetes carb counting

Diabetes carb counting can be a wise option for diabetics looking to effectively manage their blood sugar levels. It is not a diet in itself but a means of calculating carbohydrates to get them within an ideal target range.

Diabetes carb counting is the process of calculating the grams of carbohydrates consumed at meal times and in snacks consumed throughout the day. Consulting a diabetes dietician should help you in refining this process. As we know, a successful eating plan is the most effective way of managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes carb counting

First place to start

The first place to start when learning to count carbs is the back of the packet of food you are looking at. Checking the grams of carbohydrates on the facts label gives you an accurate and precise level of carbs entering your body and able you to more accurately forecast your medication required to offset them. This is especially helpful for type 1 diabetics that use insulin to control their blood sugar levels. Note well that the carbs in your system can be offset by the amount of physical activity you undertake on any given day.

Foods that contain simple carbohydrates are –

  • Grains and grain based foods such as rice, bread, cereal and pasta
  • Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas and corn
  • Fruits and fruit juices
  • Milk, yoghurt and other dairy products
  • Sweets and other “junk food” such as soda pop, fruit juice drinks, cakes, lollies, biscuits and chips

Diabetes carb counting made easy

Breaking diabetes carb counting into 3 simple steps –

  1. Get a meal plan. This is a guide where you work out exactly how much protein, carbs and fat you are going to eat each day. Getting help with a dietician can help you device an optimal meal plan.
  2. Work out which foods contain carbohydrates. You can do this by analysing the fact sheet at the back of most packaged foods. You will also need to keep portion sizes in mind as well as this has a big impact on the number of carbs you consume. Weighing your foods can help here.
  3. Measuring carbs. A method of using diabetes carb counting is by using the carbohydrate exchange list.  The rule is that one exchange equals 15 grams of carbohydrate. Please see this free carbohydrate chart for your Carbohydrate Exchange List.

A good idea is to keep your own diabetes carb counting list. This means you do not need to keep referring to the fact sheet on the back of food all the time. You will also need to remember that your portion size will have a BIG impact on the number of carbs that you consume. You may find that you target 45-60 grams of carbs with each meal or 3-4 exchanges. Accurately hitting this mark will depend on the portion but also the actual food you choose to eat to achieve these levels.


The beauty in diabetes carb counting is that it allows flexibility when eating your meals. It may take some getting used to initially but once you have been doing it for a month or two it will be ingrained into your habits and will be a lot easier to manage your blood sugar levels successfully.There are many other diets out there that may make sense for diabetics to follow as well. Here is a list of blog posts I have made about –

Intermittent fasting

The Paleo diet

The Atkins diet

Other diabetes breakfast ideas

Please let me know if you have followed any of the diets above and or if you are a successful or unsuccessful carb counter.

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  1. Kevin

    Good article on carbs. I try to look at labels more often and try to keep meals at 25%, though with my current job, I don’t have much lunch. So, I end up eating fruit and nuts various times that I am at the office. Carb counting is definitely a necessity for people with diabetes. It is tough staying away from simple carbs.

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Some simple carbs are pretty much an “avoid” for diabetics although they can be essential especially for type 1 diabetics if their blood sugar gets to very low levels. Carb counting is a simple way to stay on top of your condition for any diabetic.

      There is nothing wrong with fruit and nuts that you are eating although nuts do have a high fat content so as long as you dont eat too many you should be good. :o) Thanks for stopping by.


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