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Q:

I am trying to understand how many carbs to intake. Are all three meals and snacks supposed to be between 35 and 40? When you are reading the labels, what is the limit on sugar? How do you know that it has too much sugar?

Amy Campbell

A:

Keep in mind that one person’s carbohydrate goals may be very different from someone else’s. This is because carbohydrate (carb) needs are based on many factors, such as age, gender, activity level, weight and level of diabetes control. It’s important to meet with a dietitian who will help you determine what your carbohydrate needs are. A dietitian can also help you figure out if you need more carb for a certain meal, as well. In the meantime, however, a starting point if you’re a woman is to aim for about 30 to 45 grams of carb per meal and 15 grams of carb per snack . Men usually need more carb than women, so their goal is about 60 or 75 grams of carb per meal and 15 to 30 grams of carb per snack. When you read a Nutrition Facts label, first look at the serving size. Your serving size may be more or less than what the package states, so you may have to adjust the carbohydrate count accordingly. Second, look at the Total Carbohydrate grams. The carbohydrate on a label includes dietary fiber and sugar. You do not need to look at the grams of sugar; just look at the Total Carbohydrate. The amount of a food product that you can eat depends on your carb goal for your meal or snack. Let’s say your carb goal for breakfast is 30 grams and you plan to eat cereal. Read the label on your cereal box. It may tell you, for example, that one cup of cereal contains 20 grams of carbohydrate. If you eat that one cup, you’ve used up 20 of your 30 carb grams. Don’t forget to allow for milk on your cereal. Four ounces of milk contains about 8 grams of carb. If you add the two together (20 carb grams from the cereal plus 8 carb grams from the milk), you get 28 grams, which is very close to your goal of 30 grams.