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SPARKPEOPLE Diabetes Program Thoughts

Friday, May 18, 2018

Recent Question in the Nutrition Forum:

Hi all! I'm using the Diabetes Nutrition Plan and it's recommending that my carbs should be 50% of my calorie breakdown, ranging from 150 grams to 194 grams. I'm trying to trim carbs so 50% sounds crazy high. I would love to hear from other type 2 diabetics about what their daily percent of carbs are.


Dietitians Answer:

Great Question.
As the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Sparkpeople, let me address your question and a few topics that have been brought up on this thread.

Do meet with a Registered Dietitian/Certified Diabetes Educator who can determine the appropriate meal plan for you based on your lifestyle, food preferences, medication needs, etc.

Yes, our diabetes program is set for 50% of calories to come from carbohydrates. This is the national standard for diabetes care. However, your health care professional may determine a different need for you. If this is the case then switch your Sparkpeople program to our regular program. Using the regular program, you can set the amount for your macronutrients--carbs, protein, and fat.

On 1200-1550 calories, 50% of calories coming from carbs is 150-194 grams. It is most important to focus on serving size and quality of those carbs.
For example:
---While a serving of brown rice is only 1/3 cup for 15 grams of carb; most people use at least a cup of cooked rice which equals 45 grams. When you become familiar with portion size, 150 grams total for the day is not excessive.
---And it is most important to focus on the nutritional quality of those carbs. Yes, you could spend all your carbs on cookies, doughnuts, pie, regular pop, chips, etc. But if you focus on nutritional quality, you will see that carbs are very important to meeting nutritional need and maintaining blood sugar control. A meal plan might include:

2-3 servings of fruit daily = 30-45 grams of carb
1-2 servings of milk/yogurt daily = 12-24 grams of carb
a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast = 30 grams
some black beans on a salad or in a wrap for lunch = 15 grams
a sweet potato for dinner = 30 grams
3 cups of popcorn for an evening snack = 15 grams

This is right at 132-159 grams for the day…and very appropriate choices for nutrient-rich meals for someone with diabetes.

So bottom line:
What carb amount is your diabetes educator suggesting? Are you measuring portion sizes for your carb containing foods? And are you using primarily nutrient-rich carb foods?

Hope this helps-
Your SP Registered Dietitian Nutritionist



Unfortunately I can’t get behind that amount of carbs. IMO the national standard for diabetes care is not helping people with diabetes. Having halted the progression of my pre diabetes with a low carb diet I know it’s possible! Diabetes doesn’t have progressively get worse until you die.


“2-3 servings of fruit daily = 30-45 grams of carb”

* I can do 3 servings of berries for 20 g of carbs and 5 g of fibre

“1-2 servings of milk/yogurt daily = 12-24 grams of carb”

* It would have to be a plain unsweetened yogurt to make this number possible

“a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast = 30 grams”

* Sigh oatmeal. I love oatmeal but oatmeal can be a killer on my blood sugar if not eaten in the right combination with fats and protein. Because of this I don’t eat it very often.

“some black beans on a salad or in a wrap for lunch = 15 grams”

* Plus the carbs in the wrap and plus the other carbs in the salad and salad dressing

“a sweet potato for dinner = 30 grams”

* I like potato at dinner, typically I eat my most carb rich meal at dinner time. I have found it helps me sleep better and doesn’t raise my blood sugar too much if eaten with a bunch of non starchy vegetables, lots of fat and a good amount of protein.

“3 cups of popcorn for an evening snack = 15 grams”

* I eat dinner at 6-7 pm and go to bed at 9-10 pm, so I’d skip the snack. I don’t like the habit of snacking.


What are your thoughts?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You've done an excellent job of pointing out some real food for thought... though after reading the dietitian's breakdown, I can finally see how they arrive at their 'safe' carb number. I don't agree, but I can see how they get there.

    I think the real problem is that those who ascribe to conventional approaches to medicine and diabetes don't seem to realize that diabetes can be reversed at any stage, so they hold onto this sort of advice like a bad penny. I'm glad that people are questioning such advice and the 'standard', and that people like you are leading by a different, well-informed example.

    Thanks for the share! I always appreciate it when our paths cross!
    810 days ago
  • BERRY4
    emoticon You've done your "homework"! -- And I, also, have moved away from the prediabetes category by eliminating all higher carb food choices. For me, it is about "nutrient density" vs. the load one can quickly get from all things rice, breads, etc. (I've definitely learned to read labels in more detail--beyond just sugar grams.)

    Clearly, what is currently the "standard" is NOT helping a lot of people. One would question if it is in fact the "right" path to be on?!?!
    I like that you are finding what works for YOUR body!
    810 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/18/2018 1:16:08 PM
  • SARIC3
    While I agree that the types of carbs eaten are very important - whole foods vs processed crap, I do think the numbers they recommend are extremely high for a diabetic. The whole disease is about the inability to process glucose properly. I do tend to lean towards the keto side of things so I'm sure I have some bias in the matter as well.

    Personally, as someone that is/was prediabetic, I've found if feel much better if I maintain a constant low blood sugar instead of trying to eat often to manage my sugar swings.

    Stephen Phinney is doing research on the use of a ketogenic diet to reverse Type II - with Virta Health Group.

    810 days ago
    Thanks for sharing
    810 days ago
    I found this information very helpful. Good question, excellent feedback. Thank you for sharing. As a diabetic I was told by the dietician to have 50 carbs per meal, I try to keep it closer to 30 as I am also trying to lose weight., she agreed.
    810 days ago
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