Nutrition Articles

Carbohydrate-Counting Chart for People with Diabetes

A Single-Serving Reference Guide

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Carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source. During digestion, sugar (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates) break down into blood sugar (glucose). If you consume too much carbohydrate-rich food at one time, your blood sugar levels may rise too high, which can be problematic. Monitoring your carbohydrate intake is a key to blood sugar control, as outlined in a plan by your doctor or dietitian.

Carbohydrates are found in lots of different foods. But the healthiest carbohydrate choices include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, and low-fat dairy products. The chart below shows a single serving of carbohydrate-containing foods, which equals 15 grams:
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • This is a wonderful guide and article for a diabetic struggling to understand - 7/21/2015 7:26:01 PM
  • 1ALISSUCCESS I read your post and from what I have found (and I research all of the time) we should never eat fruit alone. Fruit is changed immediately to glucose to a lesser or greater degree depending on the fiber in it or lack of fiber. I have read that when we eat something that is higher on the glycemic index we should eat something with it that will slow down the digestion and therefore keep the blood sugar from spiking. Fat (but make it healthy fat) and protein slow it down. It is good to add a bit of fruit to a green salad with a few nuts and just a bit of olive oil, or eat half an ounce of a fatty nut like walnuts or almonds with a small bowl of berries with no sweetener, or have a small apple with 1 TBS of nut butter.....all of those things slow down the digestion so all of the sugar doesn't hit your bloodstream at the same time. - 7/19/2015 10:07:49 PM
  • It is my understanding that if you we eat too much of anything, including healthy foods like grilled chicken and steamed low carb veggies, the body turns extra calories into glucose for energy for the brain and/or stores the calories for fat.. I think the key is not only watching the carbs but watching the portions of everything, even what are considered "safe" foods. I have found that daily walking, and I try to do intervals of low intensity and then high intensity has made a difference in my glucose insensitivity (I am pre-diabetic). The lowest carb fruits are the berries....if you eat bananas, the greener the better....they get sweeter as they ripen. Also, fiber matters, so apples are much better for us than bananas! When you count your carbs you can subtract the fiber from the carb count of a food....avocados, while they have a lot of fat, have so much fiber, it almost cancels out the carbs. But be careful of the fat, and remember that avocados can make you hungrier...if they do, don't eat them and if you do choose to eat them, only 1/4 of one a day. - 7/19/2015 9:58:00 PM
  • My Dr. put me on insulin pump in Feb. since my A1C was 12.5. I have been working hard on eating healthy and exercise since then as I want to get off the pump and be healthy. My A1C is now 7.7 and hopefully when reviewed at next blood test will be below 6. My cholesterol levels are also now in order and my high blood pressure down. My bloodwork tells how hard I have been working. I have found that eating either eggs or avocado for breakfast starts the day out right. (Eat whole avocado and mix in tab bit of lemon juice and hot sauce w/Salt&Pepper). I spread it on 2 pc. of Jewish Rye toast (15 carbs for 2 pcs.). Spend hours at your grocery store reading the labels and choose only products that are the lowest in carbs. Watch the sugars too, but mostly carbs. Try to keep under 30 carbs a day. I drink Kumbacha green tea with my breakfast. No pop or cola's. Only tea, water and an occassional Powerade Zero but trying to cut those out too. Light & Fit Greek Yogurt seems to be the lowest carbs for yogurt as well. Buy frozen veggies and not canned. Fill up on veggies!!! - 7/19/2015 1:26:24 PM
  • I am 35 and have type 2 diabetes , as well as being allergic to wheat, tree nuts,and latex, (which includes things like bananas ,avocados) I am struggling on keeping my BS down my average has been in the mid 200's . I am not sure how many carbs per day I should even be eating . Any Advice? - 4/10/2015 10:53:59 AM
  • wow I am kind of shocked to see the bagel and bread as a snack. Most bagels make your sugars soar Fruit juice as snack?? what am I missing? - 3/22/2015 5:25:38 PM
  • BIRDLADY54
    hello new to this site. I am also new to diabetes type 2 I saw on here a grocery list chart. for low carbs also a list of foods good for you. now I can not find it I was going to print it. Can someone guide me to the printable food lists?? Thanks so much - 3/4/2015 11:41:53 AM
  • I really need help. I am diabetic and have heart problems. One doc says Diabetic diet and the other says heart healthy diet. One day I only had 535 calories total and it said to much cholesterol. My fasting BS runs between 200 and 208. I am extremely confused as to what I should eat and what I shouldn't et. I love egg white omelets and I love veggies of all types. I eat a lot of roasted, baked and grilled chicken and fish. Very seldom fried foods. Not a big bread or potato person. If I have a hamburger I use lettuce for a bun. What am I doing wrong? Any help would be appreciated. I also have high blood pressure, Hyperlipidemia, Fibromyalgia and other things. I take Niacin 1000 mg 2 times daily, Glipizide, Metformin and insulin shots once per day for diabetes. - 2/5/2015 12:42:49 PM
  • I, too, have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I am 71, and thankful that I have made it to this age before any problems started. It took care of both my parents with Type 2 Diabetes, therefore, I'm pretty used to the diet.

    A great start, and for some people it will be extremely difficult, but NO EATING OUT! Unless you are eating at a healthy restaurant.

    Next, NO prepackaged 'shortcut' meals. Make things from scratch. It's not difficult, and you know exactly what is going into your body.

    You will be surprised at the difference this makes in blood sugar numbers, and weight. You will be able to eat more food when you are cooking from scratch than when you eat packaged or prepared foods that have all the 'bad' additives, and added sugar and carbohydrates included, with very little food substance.
    - 1/26/2015 10:17:09 AM
  • hi
    i was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes Oct 13,2014 I have had pre diabetes for several years and theDR told me i am over the hill now and i need to eat healthier, lose weight and excercise well no HELP and how do you expect me to do that , he never gave me any advise no diet and nothing on where do i start in the next couple of weeks i had a app with my gyno and i had to tell her about my new life she asked me wheat i was doing and I said NOTHING she said your Dr didn't tell you what to do NOPE so she set me up app's with a nuturist and a dietican I got some advise but i am still scared . i am on a diabetis group they nothing white (flour,rice,potat
    oes, pasta or bread ) no corn or beans so what are you supposed to eat ? people on here sent me messages but i am not being able to read them ...

    - 1/12/2015 11:12:19 PM
  • My husband is diabetic & has been having trouble getting his numbers right. This will help immensly as I think our problem is too may carbs! I am also pre-diabetic & I worry about my 3 children as well... - 12/26/2014 11:35:21 AM
  • FRANCINEJM60
    MHoward Read your post. I have type 2 DM. The nutrionist put me on 60 carbs for each meal and 15 carbs for snacks 2 snacks a day. about 1500 cal. - 10/9/2014 7:18:16 AM
  • Thanks for the info. I'm pre-diabetic and have been keeping things under control for a couple of years now. What a wake up call! The info in the chart is very helpful. Is there any way to make if "printer friendly"? Great info to post on the frig! - 10/8/2014 10:07:17 AM
  • I have been diagnosed with pre diabetes. My A1C is 6.4 I have been put on a high protein diet. Tonight , 2 hours after dinner I took a reading and it was out of sight at 181. I had green beans, steak(3 oz) and fruit. Totally freaked out. - 8/25/2014 11:33:19 PM
  • CATHYOWENSBY
    this is to all of you who are dealing with type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver disease as tigereyes mentioned is something to take VERY seriously. I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease 3.5 years ago and did not take it seriously. in fact I was trying to fool myself that the doctors must have this all wrong. I ate what I wanted and my weight stayed above #.
    well, three months, 8 days ago I had a liver transplant. yes a transplant. all this from not taking fatty liver disease SERIOUSLY.
    So,after almost losing my life, losing almost 80#'s (not from dieting but from being VERY ill!), changing my eating habits along with counting carbs and proteins, I have learned the hard way!
    tigereyes2 don't be a fool like myself. I would not wish this on my worst enemy! - 7/22/2014 6:15:06 PM

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