When you sit down to grab a snack or eat your meal, knowing the number of carbs in the food you eat goes a long way to help you manage your weight and also control your blood sugar levels.
Carb counting is a popular meal planning option used for managing blood glucose levels. It is a method often used by people taking insulin twice or more times on a daily basis.
Carb counting is counting the number of carbohydrates you consume in grams and matching it to your insulin dose. Carb counting does not only give you more choice and flexibility while planning meals, but when rightly combined insulin and physical activity, it could help you keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Can Low-Carb Diet Help Manage Diabetes?
Several studies have confirmed that eating diets low in carbohydrate is great for treating diabetes just as it was being used as a standard treatment for diabetics even before the discovery of insulin in 1921. Low-carb diet seems to work well in the long run for people living with diabetes when they adhere to such diet. It can help lower the blood sugar levels for many years if properly combined with the right exercises.
How Many Carbs Do I Need to Eat Daily?
Carbohydrate is also important for your health, but just that it has to be kept to a minimum for diabetic people. If you are diabetic and consume 2, 000 calories daily, you should have about 250 grams of complex carbohydrate included in it.
This is a simple way to go about that; eat roughly about 45 to 60 grams of carbs in each of your meal and 15 to 30 grams for snacks. While snacking may not be important for non-insulin users, it may be important for people using insulins or pills, so they don’t run the risk of low blood sugar.
However, as a person with diabetes, either on insulin or not, your primary goal should be to make sure your blood sugar remains as steady as possible.
Which Carbs Raise Blood Glucose Levels?
It is a combination of starch, sugar, and fiber that makes up carbs in plant foods, but only the sugar and the starch components actually raise blood glucose. Fibers do not raise blood sugar levels because they are not broken down into glucose in the body; even in their soluble states.
Therefore, subtracting the fiber from the total carb content will leave you with the net or digestible carb content. An example is a cauliflower that contains 5 grams of carbs. 3 grams are fiber while it only has 2 grams net carb content.
However, sugar alcohols including maltitol, erythritol, xylitol, and sorbitol which are often used as sweeteners for sugar-free candy can also raise the blood sugar levels.
How Do I Carb Count?
Counting the carb content in your meals is not very difficult, and the following tips should be of great help to set you off.
By reading food labels
This is a great way to get adequate information about the carb content of your foods. However, you need to remember you need to focus on the net carb content rather than just the overall carb content as stated earlier. The two useful items on the label are the serving size and the total carbohydrate content.
- Check the serving size. Every information on the label is about the serving size; therefore if you will be eating about 2 or 3 servings, then you should know the information on the label will be triple with you.
- Check the grams of total carbohydrate and deduct the fiber content to get the net carb content
With the help of a scale, you can weigh your potion against suggested serving size to be sure you are not consuming more or less than the stated portion. You can make use of certain household utensil like a tablespoon to measure out items like cereals. This allows you to be sure your cereals weighs x-grams, meaning you won’t have to weigh your food every time.
- Internet: You can make use of the internet to check for the nutritional information of restaurant and café menus. However, these recipes can be tweaked from time to time, so it’s advisable you check regularly.
- Make use of nutritional books: Certain books such as ‘Carb & Cals’ has lots of photos of foods together with their nutritional information. Such books can be helpful to check the nutritional info on foods that don’t have them on the label.
- William S. Y., Marjorie F., Allison M. C. Mary C. V., and Eric C. W. 2005. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1325029/
- Westman E. C., Yancy W. S., Mavropoulos J. C., Marquart M., and McDuffie J. 2008. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19099589
- Eric C. W and Mary C. V. 2008. Has carbohydrate-restriction been forgotten as a treatment for diabetes mellitus? A perspective on the ACCORD study design. Nutrition and Metabolism. v.5; 2008. PMC2315645. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2315645/
- Joslin Diabetes Center. “How Does Fiber Affect Blood Glucose Levels?” Available at: http://www.joslin.org/info/how_does_fiber_affect_blood_glucose_levels.html
- Livesey G. 2003. Health potential of polyols as sugar replacers, with emphasis on low glycemic properties. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19087388