Carbs and Diabetes: Finding the Balance
If you are diabetic, you are probably monitoring the number of carbohydrates you eat every day. So, you might wonder: how many carbs should a diabetic have in a day?
Keep in mind, there is not an exact number of carbohydrates you should have. That’s because several factors play a role in the number of carbs you should eat. Keep reading to learn more about when and what types of carbs to eat to help manage your diabetes.
What is the Relationship Between Carbs and Blood Glucose?
The is a direct relationship between the carbs you eat and your blood glucose level. When you eat food that contains carbs, it is broken down into glucose. The glucose goes into your bloodstream, which raises the level of sugar in your blood. The increase in sugar triggers your pancreas to release insulin, which helps the amount of sugar in your blood decrease.
If you have diabetes, you do not produce enough insulin, or your body does not use it properly. Because of the insufficient use of insulin, it is hard for you to regulate blood sugar levels. Since carbs make your blood sugar increase, controlling how many carbohydrates you eat and eating the right type help control your blood glucose levels.
How Often Should a Diabetic Eat Carbs?
When it comes to diabetics and carbohydrate intake, everyone is different. How often you should eat carbohydrates may vary depending on your activity levels, weight, and age.
The exact number of carbs you should eat also varies. But in general, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with diabetes should get about half their calories from carbs.
When is the Best Time to Eat Carbs?
There is no specific time a person should eat carbs, but it is best to try to eat meals at about the same time each day in order to manage and maintain steady glucose levels. Skipping meals or delaying a meal can cause glucose levels to drop too low. Eating carbs too often or too close together can cause glucose to climb too high.
Since the best time to eat carbs may depend on your activity levels and your sleep schedule, it is best to ask your doctor or a nutritionist for a general timeframe of when the optional time is for your carb intake.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Carbs for Diabetics?
While it is not necessary to give up all types of carbohydrates, it is helpful to learn the pros and cons of carbs. Consider the following
Pros of Eating Carbs
There are some benefits to eating carbohydrates, including:
- Certain types of carbohydrates provide you with quickly available energy that your body needs.
- Some forms of carbs, such as fruit, provides many vitamins and minerals
- Certain carbs contain fiber, which helps fill you up.
Cons of Eating Carbs
Depending on the type of carb you pick, there are also some cons, such as the following:
- Carbs can increase blood sugar too much.
- Certain carbs can contribute to weight gain.
- Some types of carbs, such as fried foods and sweets, can increase your risk of high cholesterol levels or other health conditions.
The Best Routine for Eating Carbs
Your routine for eating carbs should include the choices you make, the amount you eat, and tracking the carbs. Consider the following factors for eating carbohydrates:
- Choose the right foods: The best routine for eating carbs includes choosing complex carbs that take longer to digest. Complex carbs do not increase your blood sugar as fast as simple carbohydrates.
- Eat the right amount: Eating too many carbs will increase your blood sugar too much. Pay attention to portion size and try not to overdo it.
- Track or count your carbs: Knowing how many carbs you have eaten helps you with diabetes management. Remember to check food labels and track how many carbs you eat.
Healthiest Sources of Carbs for Diabetics
Not all carbohydrates are the same. Some types of carbs have more nutrients than others and also affect your blood sugar differently. The three main types of carbs include:
- Fiber: Fiber is digested slowly and does not raise your blood sugar. Foods such as broccoli, beans, and berries are good sources of fiber.
- Starches: Starches include foods, such as grains, corn, and potatoes. Some starches also raise blood sugar fast.
- Sugars: Sugars may include natural sugar that is in fruit and also sugar added to sweets and soda. Added sugars raise blood sugar levels quickly.
The best choices for carbohydrates are foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, or fiber. Limit or stay away from foods that are high in sugar, such as sweets, chips, and fried foods. Instead, focus on whole grains, veggies, and fruits. Good choices include:
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Non-starchy veggies, such as spinach, broccoli, and kale