carbs per day

By 4mouseketeers Latest Reply 2014-06-05 06:27:01 -0500
Started 2014-06-02 18:22:41 -0500

Hi. Can anyone translate this for me: I asked my doctor's office how many carbs per day I should be eating. This was their answer: 'Dr. Allen said your carbohydrate intake should be 1600-1800 calories per 24 hours.'
Does that mean I can have that many carbs? I don't understand.
Ann (4mouseketeers)

32 replies

GabbyPA 2014-06-05 06:27:01 -0500 Report

Calories and carbs are not the same thing, though each are tied together. Maybe he misunderstood your question.

Carbs per day varies, but a good guide line to start with is 30-60 per meal and 15-30 per snack and a total of 150 per day. Then what you do is read the labels and find out how much of a serving you can have for those numbers.

When you are figuring out what works for your body, make sure to test often before and after your meals and keep a journal while you are learning. It helps you see if you eat 30 carbs and have good levels or if you need more or less. It will also show you what kind of carbs hit you hard.

They are not all equal, and complex carbs often do better for us. Complex carbs come from whole foods usually. Veggies, Fruits, and proteins. Simple carbs can come from processed sources usually, such as sugars, breads, pastas and so on. It takes time to figure out what your body can tolerate and what it can't. Everyone is different. It took me about a year of testing and trying to find out what things are safe for me, and what I should just write off because no matter what they spike me.

Type1Lou 2014-06-04 08:03:03 -0500 Report

Beware of the processed low-fat products you buy…if you compare the labels, frequently the low-fat version will have more carbs per serving than the regular version. I find this true for most salad dressings.

Dark Sonja
Dark Sonja 2014-06-03 18:43:39 -0500 Report

HI, I'm new to this site, just joined today, but I've been diabetic for years. I have been using a book called, "The Complete Book of Food Counts" by Corinne T. Netzer and published by Dell Books. It gives you the serving size, calories, protein, carbohydrate, fat, cholesterol, sodium and fiber for each food including those that differ from brand to brand and those at chain restaurants too. Don't get overwhelmed, just aim for a moderate amount of carbs at each meal and snack throughout the day (instead of all at once). Remember you don't want your sugars too high or too low either. Also remember that while only carbs directly affect your blood sugar ALL foods have an affect on your body and managing your weight also helps your sugars. So eat moderately low fat, low sugar, low salt diet with lots of fiber and water. Most experts say calories should be 30 - 50% complex Carbs (more fiber, less sugar), 25 - 30% low fat protein, and 25% - 30% fat preferably unsaturated. Good Luck. Hope this helps.

Type1Lou 2014-06-03 17:15:33 -0500 Report

I would suggest that a good starting off point for you would be to determine how many carbs you currently eat per day. Make a habit of reading labels for carb content and serving size. Consult a guide (either on-line or book) for those foods without labels. Once you know your daily carb intake, you can reduce it if you need to lose weight and/or improve your BG's. My endo asked me how many calories I eat per day and I told him I don't count my calories but I do limit my carbs to no more than 120 grams per day; by doing that, the calories take care of themselves. I have been able to maintain my weight at 120 lbs and my last A1c was 6.8 with lipids in the normal range. (I'm a 5'3" tall 64 year oldmoderately active female). The amount of carbs any one diabetic needs to get good BG levels will vary based on age, sex, height, and activity. There is no one right answer that will fit everyone. Initially, you should keep a food log and test your BG 2 hours after eating to determine the effect that particular food has on YOUR BG…again, some of us can tolerate certain foods that others cannot. The info you bring to your endo, the better he/she will be able to tweak your treatment.

4mouseketeers 2014-06-03 17:52:16 -0500 Report

In order to count my carbs would I have to check each individual item? For instance I made chicken salad. I would check the carbs in each & every item that I put into it? Where online or what book would give me answers?
Thanks for your help. Goodness knows, I need it! I am so baffled. Ann

Type1Lou 2014-06-04 08:00:27 -0500 Report

Yes…it seems overwhelming at first but the benefits are worth it. Each ingredient needs to be counted for accuracy. "Calorie King" is a good paperback to get with all sorts of nutritional info, including carbs. (Your endo/doctor may even have copies to give you.) For homemade recipes, I go to which allows me to input my ingredients and servings per recipe and it will give me nutritional info per serving. I also own a Chefmate Digital Nutrition scale which was purchased at Target years ago. It allows me to weigh an apple, for example,input the code for apples, and it will give me the carbs in that apple based on its weight. It comes with a code booklet for nearly 1000 food items. Counting and limiting the carbs has been the key for me to gain control of my diabetes. I was diagnosed in 1976 but didn't start getting serious about carbs until the early 2000's after reading Dr Richard Bernstein's book, "Diabetes Solution". It really was a turning point for me. Wishing you well…you can do it!

4mouseketeers 2014-06-04 15:46:34 -0500 Report

I think a scale is a good purchase. I marked the site of recipenutrition as a bookmark. You are so knowledgeable here at DC

Type1Lou 2014-06-04 17:06:56 -0500 Report

Thank you. I've had diabetes for 38 years and hope I've learned a few helpful things…although there are always new things to learn. We develop coping mechanisms as we go along. I think I eat a much healthier diet now than before I was diagnosed. Lots of fruits and veggies. I don't bake much anymore because it's too much of a temptation. My husband makes his own cakes and , for some reason, I'm not tempted to eat his stuff. I use my scale nearly each day because my lunch is usually an apple, cored, cut into 12 wedges and smeared with 4 tablespoons of all-natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt). Depending upon the size of the apple, it runs between 37 and 47 grams of carb. For a treat, I'll take one square of really good dark chocolate and top it with a spoonful of all natural PB…only 7 grams of carb.

4mouseketeers 2014-06-03 18:08:33 -0500 Report

P.S. This (diabetes/carb counting) is an unbelievable nightmare!!!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-06-04 13:43:22 -0500 Report

Ann it is only a nightmare because you made it into a nightmare. At first it can be overwhelming..Trying to learn too much creates confusion and you will seem like you are spinning in one spot. Take a deep breath and a break from it all.

Go on You Tube and look for videos that will teach you how to count carbs and read labels. The good thing about the videos are that you can view them as many times as needed. You can download them to your computer. If you have a smartphone with a data plan or a tablet, you can go sit outside with something cool to drink and view them. Then listen watch some music videos of your favorite songs and you will soon be nice and relaxed. It will get easier as you go along. Stop stressing yourself out. While you are learning write down questions for your doctor and for the Dietitian. Make sure you get answers to your questions. Doctors love informed patients who can play an active role in their medical care.

John Crowley
John CrowleyCA 2014-06-03 14:46:21 -0500 Report

As has been recommended, it would be best for you to meet with a Registered Dietitian to get personalized recommendations. But here are some rules of thumb that could be helpful as you try to control your carbs and your blood sugar.

Joslin recommends that people with diabetes balance their diet by getting roughly 40% of their calories from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fats. (The disclaimer being that if you have kidney disease, you'll need to follow a different dietary regimen.)

So let's assume that your doctor's office was giving you recommended calories and let's just use 1700 calories as an average. That would mean that your goal should be

680 calories from carbs
510 calories from protein
510 calories from fat

These calories then translate to:
170g of carbs per day
128g of protein per day
57g of fat per day

As a general rule of thumb, many of our members seek to limit meals to 45g of carbs per meal and snacks to under 15g. That would work out to right about 170g of carbs per day.

Here are some other helpful tips from Joslin:
Carbohydrate: 40 percent from carbohydrates, including at least 20-35 grams of fiber. Best carbohydrate/high-fiber sources: fresh vegetables, fruits, beans and whole-grain foods. Eat less of these carbs: pasta, white bread, white potatoes and sugary cereals.

Protein: 20-30 percent from protein (unless you have kidney disease). Best protein sources: fish, skinless chicken or turkey, nonfat or low-fat dairy products, tofu and legumes (beans and peas).

Fat: 30-35 percent from fat (mostly mono- and polyunsaturated fats). Best fat sources: olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds and fatty fish like salmon.

I hope that helps.

4mouseketeers 2014-06-03 15:06:47 -0500 Report

Yes, that does help. I appreciate the information. Have already cut back on potatoes (my favorite thing) & sugared cereal & my extra special - root beer !

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-06-03 10:35:14 -0500 Report

This is almost creepy. Last night I was around the corner talking to a diabetic neighbor. Her doctor changed her insulin. She had called her doctor because she forgot to ask if she could still eat the same amount of carbs. I was there with her when he called back. He told her how many calories she could have per day and she said to him. "Did I ask you about calories or carbs?" he said carbs. She then said, "If I asked you about carbs why are you telling me about calories? The next time I ask you a question, pay attention and answer it and don't play games with me. I told you that once don't make me tell you again" he told her what she asked.

4mouseketeers you are going to have to learn to advocate for yourself. You didn't ask about calories and you should not have accepted that answer. No one but your doctor or endocrinologist can answer that question. There is no way I am going to tell you how many carbs you can have. I don't have your medical history and I am not a medical doctor. You have to pick up the phone and tell your doctor what you need and demand an answer. I do not let doctors get away with anything when my health is involved. So if you value your health you will call him back and get the answers to your questions. Good luck.

4mouseketeers 2014-06-03 11:09:59 -0500 Report

Thank you for your response. I do appreciate it. I will call his office back today! I won't say the things your neighbor said as I am not that brave. However, I will make sure they know I mean CARBS. I thought my questions were straightforward but I think they get busy & don't always hear what we say. You are right that we need to advocate for ourselves. Ann

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-06-03 21:06:40 -0500 Report

Ann today the doctor told me I have cancer. Everything went black, I think my heart stopped and I started crying. She then said well we have to do and ultrasound and possibly a biopsy. By then I had recovered and I chewed her out so bad I almost felt sorry for her. It was like an out of body experience. It was like I could see myself chewing her out.

When it comes to my health, not only am I brave but I can be very nasty. I told her that I will not see her again and that I will be seeing my assigned doctor. You don't ever tell a patient they have something when you don't know what it is.

Doctors are people and your doctor works for you. If you pay an insurance payment each month or if you pay out of pocket he is technically your employee. He is responsible for your health just as much as you are.

Look at it this way. No one is going to fight as long or as hard for your life as you are. Doctors know which patients they can brush off and those they can't. He knows he can brush you off because you are not going to speak up for yourself. You need to let him know that from this day forward you are not going to let him brush you off and believe me you will see a change in your medical care and responses to your questions.

4mouseketeers 2014-06-03 22:58:22 -0500 Report

Oh, Joyce, I pray your doctor is wrong, wrong, wrong. I truly felt a stab in my heart when I read your first couple of sentences. Sometimes I get to feeling sorry for myself & for me to do so is wrong, wrong, wrong because things could be much worse. I believe in prayer and I will be praying for you. When are you having the tests done? Please let us know the outcome.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-06-04 13:33:34 -0500 Report

Ann thanks. I never feel sorry for myself because I see people worse off than I am everyday. Besides feeling sorry for yourself makes you miserable and puts you in a rut. I was very upset at first, now I am fine. Once I chewed the doctor out, i came home and had a great evening.

jayabee52 2014-06-03 00:29:38 -0500 Report

Howdy Mouseketeer
In many lay-people's minds carbs and calories are about the same thing.

Before I developed diabetes and a few year after I didn't understand about carbs.

One can eat pure fat (like off a steak) and get a lot of calories since from fat each gram of fat = 9 calories, whereas for proteins and carbohydrates each gram = 4 calories. (more info: see ~ )

But pure fat does not raise one's Blood Glucose (BG). Carbohydrates do, and to a lesser extent so does protein because of the longer time needed to digest it.

So either that nurse who spoke to you. was misinformed, or was thinking that you were after information to lose weight.

Have Dr Allen refer you to a Registered Dietician (RD) who upon learning of your diabetes, will be able to give you appropriate number of carbohydrates for you per meal according to your gender, body type, and activity level.

God's best to you and yours

haoleboy 2014-06-02 18:28:59 -0500 Report

carbs and calories have little to no correlation.
counting calories does no good when trying to manage your blood glucose levels,
you need to ask again a be clear that you are looking for guidance on number of carbs ,,,, or you need a new doctor.


4mouseketeers 2014-06-02 18:40:03 -0500 Report

Should I be seeing a diabetic specialist? Maybe I should ask for a referral because that answer didn't make sense to me?

these were my questions - maybe they weren't clear enough??
I have 3 questions:

1. What should I keep daily carb count to?

2. At what times of day should I be checking my blood sugar?

3. If my insurance will cover it could I get an appoint with a registered dietician?

Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-06-05 02:13:38 -0500 Report

I think a diabetic specialist is a good idea.
I decided I needed a diabetic specialist so I finally got my doctor to make me a referral. My appointment is in 2 weeks. I have 3 pages of questions to ask her. I hope she takes the time to listen to my concerns. I also think a registered dietician is a good idea. I talked with one when I was first diagnosed years ago, but I think maybe I should see one again just to keep updated. Thanks for the idea.

Dark Sonja
Dark Sonja 2014-06-03 19:01:57 -0500 Report

Q1 -Most people should have 2 or 3 carb choices at each meal and snack. A carb choice is 15 grams of carbohydrate. You take the total carb on the label and subtract the fiber (which doesn't count as a carb because it does not raise blood sugar) and that number is the grams of carbs you count. example: The label says:Total carb 46g, fiber 1g, sugar 5 grams. You would take the 46 and subtract the 1g fiber that gives you 45 g carbs which is 3 carb choices. You know they are mostly good carbs because the sugar is the bad carbs but you still have to count ALL the carbs, just not the fiber. Have 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks a day with 2 or 3 carb choices (30 - 45 g carbs) each. Unless your doctor says other wise of course. Q2 - Check your fasting blood sugar first thing in the morning before eating or taking any meds. Check other sugars 2 hours after meals. Sugars always go up right after eating but should be back under 150 by 2 hours after. To Q. 3 Yes, but sometimes if your insurance won't cover a dietician you can ask at your local gym for an appointment with a nutrition expert. Just ask for credentials and take everything with a grain of salt and ask your doctor when not sure.

dianalee 2014-06-04 13:51:51 -0500 Report

Thanks for that break down. I have been trying to figure out exactly how to count my carbs since diagnosis last July and this is the first example I've seen that makes it perfectly clear to me. :)

Glucerna 2014-06-03 16:34:45 -0500 Report

These are excellent questions, with one suggestion: instead of a daily goal for carbohydrate, typically you want guidelines for carbohydrate intake at each meal and snack. That's because each time you eat carbohydrate, it affects your blood sugar level. ~Lynn @Glucerna

haoleboy 2014-06-02 19:06:42 -0500 Report

all appropriate questions … were your numbers extremely high when diagnosed?
If your insurance will cover it get a referral to an endocrinologist and a registered dietitian would pretty well cover things I reckon.