Carb Counting

The ADA's Complete Guide To Carb Counting, 3rd Edition

ADA's Complete Guide To Carb Counting, 3rd Edition

How to take the mystery out of carb counting & improve your blood glucose control

"How do I manage my blood glucose levels?" "What do carbohydrates have to do with diabetes?" "What are carbohydrates and why are they important?" If any of these questions sound familiar, then it's time to pick up The Complete Guide to Carb Counting.

Fast Food Carb Counts

These chain restaurant sites provide a nutrition analysis of their menu items to help you plan and balance fast food meals, whether you are dieting, controlling your blood sugar or eating healthy. We hope this information will help you make better decisions about balance, variety and moderation in your diet, and improve your overall control.

How Many Carbs Do You Need Each Day?

Your daily carb requirement is based on your daily calorie need. Carb amounts play a major role in setting your carb boluses. It is best to make gradual changes in how many carbs you eat and adjust your insulin gradually as you go.

Fill in the blanks below to determine how many grams of carbohydrate you need each day by hand or use our interactive Carb and Calorie Estimator.

  1. First determine your desired weight in pounds:

    a. If you are overweight, a 10% loss from your current weight is ideal.

Food Labels

Packaged foods have a "Nutrition Facts" label that provides nutritional information, including the number of calories and the grams of protein and fat. These labels also give the exact number of grams of carbohydrate contained in a serving and the size of this serving. For those with diabetes, food labels are extremely helpful for carb counting and for determining appropriate insulin doses for these foods.

What consumers get from food labels:

How To Count Carbohydrates

A few foods like table sugar and lollipops are entirely carbohydrate, so their weight on a gram scale will be exactly the same as the number of grams of carbohydrate they contain. Most foods, however, have only part of their total weight as carbohydrate. The carb content of these foods can be determined by food labels, reference books or software, or a scale and a list of carb factors.

Insulin Reaction Guides

These rules lets you match your meal carbohydrates with insulin for better post-meal readings. However, carbohydrates are also needed to raise a low blood sugar. For this, there are two helpful guides:

  1. One gram of carbohydrate raises the blood sugar about 3, 4, or 5 points for people who weigh 200 lbs., 150 lbs., and 100 lbs., respectively.

  2. The glycemic index, protein content, and fat content of foods can modify the speed and strength of Guide 1.


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