Making Sense of Carbs
April 10, 2020
April 10, 2020
Carbohydrates—along with fats and proteins, make up the three macronutrients. For people with type 2 diabetes, carbohydrates have the biggest impact on elevating blood sugar. For this reason, it is important that people with diabetes find a balance with carbs. Without balance, blood sugars can be elevated and unstable, which can make it more challenging to fend off infections such as COVID-19. If blood sugars stay too high over time, it can lead to serious complications, including diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which requires emergency treatment, something we want to avoid as it provides opportunity for potential exposure.
The answer will vary based on the person, but the CDC recommends that about 45% of a person’s total calories come from carbs, and a serving is defined as 15 grams of carbs. This means the average woman should be consuming 45-60 grams per meal, and the average man about 60-75 grams per meal. Age, weight, activity level and medications will all influence this number and it is important to discuss your own situation with your own doctor or dietician.
Carbs primarily fall into one of three categories: starch, sugar and fiber.
Fiber doesn't affect blood sugar like the other two and is critical for the health of your gut. Fiber also plays a prominent role in stabilizing blood sugar and reducing cardiovascular risk. For these reasons, people with diabetes should be looking for fiber rich foods. Good sources include vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. Most Americans do not get nearly enough fiber so any increase in fiber is likely to be helpful.
If we were to make a list of good and bad carbs as it relates to type 2 diabetes and pulling from all three sources, it would look something like this.
*Fruits, grains and tubers while healthy, it’s worth pointing out they are likely to have more of an effect on blood sugar than the others listed here.
In sum, carbs are still an important macronutrient. It’s just important to focus on consuming healthy carbs that can help you keep blood sugar in range. By monitoring the amount and kind you consume—you'll be in position to set yourself up for success!
Get 5 quick tips to help you make good food choices that support your health.
April 9, 2020