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How to count carbohydrates to control diabetes (with serving list)

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The carbohydrate content is a way to plan meals to help maintain adequate levels of blood sugar in people with diabetes 1 and to know the amount of insulin that must be administered after each food and thus avoid possible complications, such as a decrease the sudden increase in sugar in the blood. For this, it is necessary to know the quantities of carbohydrates in foods and the equivalent values ​​of insulin, it is also necessary to order very well the foods of the day.

Also, it is very valuable to pay attention to food labels and to know which foods should not be counted. On the other hand, you must be aware of the type of insulin that is being applied and if you are performing physical activity, and it is always important that it be controlled by a diabetologist or specialized nutritionist.

In addition, the content of carbohydrates in the soil is useful for people with type 1 diabetes who are insulin dependent, as well as people who have type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, thus helping to improve the control of blood glucose levels. Learn more about type 2 diabetes, symptoms and treatment.



To achieve the carbohydrate content, it is necessary to take into account the following aspects:

1. Foods that contain carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of the three main sources of energy, together with proteins and fats, which are metabolized mostly as glucose in the blood stream, so insulin release is necessary to control normal blood levels. The foods that contain carbohydrates are:

  • cereals, like bread, biscuits, galletitas, barley, wheat, couscous, rice, corn starch, pasta and oatmeal;
  • vegetablessuch as los frijoles, garbanzos, habas y lentejas;
  • Tubers and vegetables rich in starches, such as maize, fresh beers, porridge, potatoes, camotes, calabaza and manioc;
  • Vegetables without starchsuch as la zanahoria, remolacha, berenjena, broccoli, coliflor, ejotes, kale, repollitos de Bruselas, lechuga, espinaca, champiñones, among others;
  • fruitsall fresh fruits, canned or in the form of a yoke;
  • some dairy, like milk and yogurt;
  • vegetable drinks, such as oat, soy, rice and almond;
  • Foods rich in sugarsuch as golosinas, pies, pasteles, ice cream, miel, marmalade, jaleas, tarts, budines, sugar and maize jarabe.

In addition to this, it is essential to distribute carbohydrates throughout the day between meals to better control blood glucose levels.

In cases of diabetes 1, carbohydrates must be distributed according to the type of insulin therapy indicated by the doctor. When intensive insulin is administered, people are not obliged to comply with a strict schedule, number of meals and types of food, according to which insulin is administered according to carbohydrate content.



2. Quantity of carbohydrates in food

In order to obtain the carbohydrate content in a simple way, the food exchange system is generally used, where 1 portion of each food contains 15 grams of carbohydrates, except for vegetables without starches that contain 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrates. Bearing in mind that, foods should be grouped by portions in this way:

Quantity of food per 15 grams of carbohydrates

1 portion of cereals:

  • 1 sheet of white or wholemeal pan
  • 4 water or whole-grain galletitas
  • 1 cereal bar
  • 1 portion of tart with the sole base
  • 2 spoonfuls of oat sage
  • 1 tortilla
  • 1/4 cup cooked rice

1 serving of fruit:

  • 1/2 large banana
  • 3/4 cup cranberries
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 vase of orange juice
  • 1 mandarin
  • 20 berries
  • 1 small manzana
  • 1 cup of melon
  • 2 to 3 small pieces of higo
  • 1 small grapefruit
  • 15 grapes
  • 1/2 cup canned fruit
  • 1 cup of papaya

1 serving of vegetables:

  • 1/2 cup of beans, garbanzos or cooked Lentils

1 portion of milk or yogurt:

  • 3/4 cup natural flavored skimmed yoghurt
  • 1 cup of skimmed or entera milk

1 serving of vegetable drink:

  • 1 cup of natural rice drink, avena or almendra

1 portion of tubercles and vegetables rich in starch:

1/2 cup of porridge puree

1/2 cup of maize or cooked beers

1/4 large porridge

1/2 pot of potato

1 bowl of calabash

Sugary foods:

3 sugar cubes

1 spoonful of marmalade

1/2 cup low-fat ice cream

1 budin without sugar 1/2 cup

Additionally, it is important to know how to read the food labels to be able to choose which ones are the most appropriate and to control the amount of carbohydrates that you are ingesting. The nutritional information found in the food labels informs the total calories, proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber with an established portion.

It can also be very useful to have a small food balance that will help you calculate the portion in a simpler way.

3. What foods should not be counted

Vegetables low in starch have a very low amount of carbohydrates and are also very rich in fiber, containing a very low glycemic index, so it is generally not necessary that they be counted, unless you consume a very high amount of them, as per For example, 3 bowls of raw vegetables in a luncheon, which is not very frequent and only happens.

Asimism, other foods that should not be counted are: those that are rich in proteins, such as all types of meats and huevos, foods rich in grease, such as nuts, oils, cheeses, infusions and condiments.

4. How many carbohydrates you should eat

The carbohydrate needs of an adult are generally between 45% and 65% of the total calories. The recommended portion sizes vary according to weight, sex, physical activity, as indicated by your doctor or nutritionist.

In general consumption lines, the quantities of carbohydrates are:

It is not recommended to consume less than 130 g of carbohydrates per day to avoid hypoglycemia.

Example for the carbohydrate content

If you can explain as an example, in the following menu for the breakfast:

food portion amount of carbohydrates
1 vase of milk: 15 g
2 full pan wheels 30 g
1 small manzana 15 grams
Total carbohydrates 60 g

In this way, it is possible to calculate in a simple way the amount of carbohydrates to be ingested to know the amount of insulin that needs to be administered and thus to be able to control the levels of sugar in the blood.

The carbohydrate content method is generally used in people with type 1 diabetes who use intensified insulin treatment, which can be through continuous insulin infusion pumps or the application of 3 injections or more of insulin per day, depending on of the medical indication. More information on types of insulin.

Generally, 1 Unit of insulin is administered for every 15 g of carbohydrates, which is the most used measure, although sometimes the doctor may recommend 10 g of carbohydrates per 1 Unit of insulin.

In addition, to know the amount of insulin that must be applied in total, if you have to follow the following steps:

  • 1. Monitor blood glucose before each meal;

  • 2. Calculate the units of rapid insulin as a function of carbohydrate intake;

  • 3. Adjust the calculated insulin dose, according to the blood glucose value prior to the intake;

The following table shows the adjustment of the fast insulin that must be performed, based on the blood glucose calculated before food:

preingestal blood glucose Rapid insulin adjustment
< 50 mg/dl Decrease 2 to 3 Units of insulin calculated by the intake
50 to 70 mg/dl Decrease 1 Unit of insulin calculated by the intake
70 to 130 mg/dl According to the Units of insulin calculated by the intake
130 to 150 mg/dl Second intake + 1 Unit of insulin

150 to 200 mg/dl

Second intake + 2 Units of insulin

Example to calculate the amount of insulin

Following the previous example, if the person was going to ingest 60 g of carbohydrates in the breakfast, in addition, if the glucose was measured before the food and it had 140 mg/dl. Therefore, considering that for every 15 g of carbohydrates 1 Unit of insulin must be administered, the following calculation must be carried out:

1. Divide 60 g of carbohydrates by 15 g, resulting in 4 Units of insulin according to intake.

two. If the person has 140 mg/dl, 1 Unit of Insulin must be added, resulting in 5 Units of total insulin.

Therefore, this person should apply 5 Units of insulin in total to be able to eat the indicated menu and maintain stable glucose levels.

The benefits of carrying out the carbohydrate content are the following:

  • Mayor freed in food;
  • Better glycemic control;
  • Allows flexibility in social life;
  • Allows you to control your weight.

In addition to this, it reduces the possibilities of the complications of diabetes, such as hypoglycemia, hypoglycemia, diabetic neuropathy, among others. Learn more about the complications of diabetes.

Verified by RJ9823 – Public Utility – cc2.0

Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

Content for educational purposes only

The translator user relied on the following text:

Tua Saude Website – REF93782 – Verified

Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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