How Many Carbohydrates Should A Diabetic Ingest?

Health Tips

Trying to decide how many carbohydrates to ingest is one of the main problems that diabetics face.

While some agencies such as the American Diabetes Association say that 45% of daily calories can be consumed through carbohydrates (135-230 grams of carbohydrates), other medical sources have opined, through various studies, that This figure is still high, not to say erroneous.

It is a confusing picture, because not everyone processes carbohydrates in the same way.

However, analyzing the various studies that have been done about low-carbohydrate diets for diabetics, you can draw a few useful considerations that everyone can apply.

What are the differences between diabetics and prediabetics?

As has been said, not all people process carbohydrates in the same way and this applies especially in the case of diabetics.

The first thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of people that face diabetes: prediabetics and diabetics, and the latter are divided in turn between those with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Although both prediabetics and diabetics have in common their difficulty in producing or storing the hormone insulin and thus processing glucose (a type of blood sugar essential in many functions), the differences between them are notorious.

Diabetes type 1

The pancreas lacks beta cells, which are responsible for producing insulin, which must be injected into the patient. It is usually diagnosed when the patient is still a child, but can appear at any age.

Type 2 diabetes

It is the most common type of diabetes and is linked to obesity. It occurs when the cells of the body are resistant to insulin or the pancreas does not create enough insulin.


A patient is prediabetic when his blood sugar concentration is 100-125 mg / dL or HbA1c (monthly glycosylated hemoglobin control) between 5.7-6.4%. 70% of them progress to type 2 diabetes, and suffer the same health risks as heart disease, obesity, kidney failure or high blood sugar.

How do carbohydrates affect sugar levels?

The levels of sugar, of diabetic patients or not, affect by diverse factors like stress, illnesses or lack of exercise, but mainly by the bad feeding.

Of the three macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates), carbohydrates are the ones that raise blood sugar the most , because during digestion the body turns them into sugar and this happens with all of them: from fruits, rice or vegetables , even cookies and refined sugars.

Now, for people who do not suffer from diabetes, some carbohydrates are not harmful, especially fruits because they contain fiber. For diabetics, this does not apply, because even healthy carbohydrates can cause their blood sugar levels to rise dramatically, especially in the case of those with type 1 diabetes: they must inject insulin several times a day, regardless of the type of carbohydrate they consume. .

It is because of these complexities of nutrition that carbohydrate restriction diets are so popular among diabetics.

What does science say about the restriction of carbohydrates for diabetics?

Due to the importance that the adequate consumption of carbohydrates poses for diabetics, there are many investigations that have been done in this regard.

Encompassing the results of different investigations, according to the level of carbohydrate restriction, these are some of the conclusions that can be drawn.

1.Ketogenic diets for diabetics

(20-25 g of carbohydrates a day): used to cause ketosis (condition in which the body uses acetone and fat instead of sugar). These diets have been shown to be effective in weight loss and to reduce HbA1c by up to 0.6% in a short-term study.

2.Low carbohydrate diets

(100-150 grams of carbohydrates per day): in a 12-month study, the participants’ HbA1c went from 8.3% to 6.3%.

How many carbohydrates should diabetics ingest?

Although studies have shown the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets for diabetics, this is not the only factor that should be addressed.

A strict and restrictive diet such as ketogenic, for example, despite giving good results in a short time on the control of blood sugar, may be difficult to follow long term, and the truth is that not all diabetics can get to need it, as there are some who process carbohydrates better than others.

A good method so that each person with diabetes can decide how many carbohydrates to eat, is to use a glucose meter: measuring our levels one hour before and two hours after each meal, we can keep track, remembering that the highest level of sugar in the blood should reach 139 mg / dL.

By making constant measurements of this type, one can better notice how each one processes the carbohydrates and make necessary corrections, eliminating certain foods.

What carbohydrates should a diabetic not eat?

Regardless of the ability of each diabetic to process carbohydrates, there are certain harmful foods that everyone should avoid to the extent possible, such as the following:

  • Breads, puddings or donuts.
  • Pasta, rice and corn
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes and taro.
  • Legumes such as peas or lentils (except green peas and peanuts).
  • Sweet dairy
  • Most fruits, except for berries.
  • Cookies, feet and ice cream.
  • Fruit juices, sodas, soft drinks or teas with sugar.

Although some of these products, such as fruits or legumes, are not harm in general, for a diabetic they can be harmful, so one option would be to opt for other products such as low carb vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados, meat, fish, eggs, natural dairy and others, is an option to make changes without the body feeling restricted.

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