How Many Carbs Should You Eat If You Have Diabetes?

It’s no secret that diabetics have to watch what they eat. It’s a careful balance of the right foods and the proper portions. But some foods are worse for diabetics than others, and especially sugary foods.

However, how do carbs and diabetics fit into that equation? Can diabetics eat carbs?

There’s no one simple answer to that question. Everyone is different, so their dietary needs are also different. Generally, though, diabetics can eat carbs. Keep reading to find out more information about eating it safely.

How Many Carbs Should Diabetics Eat?

Generally, experts recommend that you receive 45 to 60% of your daily calories from carbs. However, it’s a little more complex than that.

Carbohydrates come in different types. Each type has a different rating on the glycemic index (GI). And each type impacts your blood sugar to varying degrees.

For example, higher glycemic index foods convert to sugar quicker in your body and can cause dangerous blood sugar spikes. High GI foods have a rating of 70 or more. They can include foods like:

  • white bread
  • popcorn
  • short grain white rice
  • instant oatmeal
  • pineapple

On the other hand, low glycemic index carbs may actually help control type 2 diabetes symptoms and weight loss. These foods rate at 55 or less on the GI scale. Low GI foods include:

  • sweet potatoes
  • 100% stone-ground whole wheat bread
  • non-starchy vegetables
  • most fruits
  • rolled or steel-cut oatmeal

There are a few medium GI foods to choose from, too. But you need to make sure to eat these in moderation. They’re relatively safe, assuming GI range of 56-69, as long as you watch your portions.

So, how many carbs can a diabetic eat? That depends on you. Here are some steps to figure out the right amount:

Step 1 – Track your current food intake

First, track how much carbs you currently eat. That includes meals as well as snacks.

Step 2 – Measure your blood glucose levels

Next, measure your glucose levels before you eat and 2 hours afterwards. Do this for a few days to get a good amount of data.

Step 3 – Speak with your health care team

Lastly, speak with your health care team. They can figure out the right amount for your individual needs based on the data you took.

How Carbs Affect Blood Sugar Levels

Different factors can affect your blood sugar levels. But what you eat may be one of the biggest factors. That’s why carbs and diabetes is a big deal. Your body breaks down carbs into sugar. From there it enters your bloodstream.

Whole foods that contain fiber are less likely to raise glucose levels. On the other hand, eating digestible carbs like refined carbs can cause your levels to spike.

Watch Your Carb Intake If You’re Diabetic

How many carbs should diabetics eat? The simple answer is as much as your individual diet can handle. Diabetics may not be able to process the added sugar. This can cause blood sugar to spike to dangerous levels.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can never indulge again. You just have to make sure that you keep your portions higher GI foods low and eat them infrequently. Concentrate instead on low GI foods. And when in doubt, speak with your doctor.