How to Count Carbs

What is carbohydrate counting?

Carbohydrate counting is a meal-planning method used by people with diabetes aids in controlling blood glucose levels and can result in healthy weight loss. This method uses food labels and food composition tables to identify and add the number of carbohydrates eaten during each meal or snack.

Carbohydrates are a main nutrient found in food and drinks and include sugars, starches, and fiber. Blood sugar levels are impacted by carbohydrates more than any other nutrient, so carb counting and reducing the amount of added sugar consumed can help regulating those levels.

In carb counting, total carbohydrate intake should aim to stay the same at each meal. This amount can be determined by a physician, dietician or diabetes educator, who will take the person's activity level, height and weight into account. These health care professionals can also help teach you more about how to count carbs.

Two Ways to Count Carbs

There are two ways to count carbohydrates, by grams or by carb choice. With either counting method used, the goal is to eat a specific amount of carbohydrates at each meal or snack, as determined by individual needs and recommendations from a healthcare provider.

Count by Carb Choice

To count by carb choice, add the total amount of carbohydrates grams consumed and divide that number by 15. One carb choice equals 15 grams. The table below outlines how to count carb choices depending the number of carbohydrate grams. To count by carb choice, add the total amount of carbohydrates grams consumed and divide that number by 15. One carb choice equals 15 grams. The table below outlines how to count carb choices depending the number of carbohydrate grams.

null

Steps to Count Carbs:

  1. Identify foods and drinks that have carbohydrates.
  2. Determine the number of carbohydrate grams or the carb count of a serving.
  3. Know how many servings you should eat each day.
  4. Spread carbohydrate servings over the entire day.
  5. Check your blood sugar two hours after the start of a meal. If your blood sugar is greater than 180 mg/dL, you may need to adjust your carbohydrate intake.