Carbohydrate counting, commonly known as carb counting, is a meal planning technique for persons who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrate counting entails keeping track of the carbohydrate content of the foods you consume on a daily basis.
Carbohydrates are one of the most common nutrients in food and beverages. The other major nutrients are protein and fat. Sugars, starches, and fiber are all examples of carbohydrates. Because carbs affect blood glucose levels more than other nutrients, carbohydrate counting can help you control your blood glucose, commonly known as blood sugar.
Carbohydrates in Food
Healthy carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are an important part of a balanced diet because they give energy as well as nutrients like vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. Fiber can help you avoid constipation, decrease cholesterol, and maintain a healthy weight.
Foods and beverages with added sugars are common sources of unhealthy carbs. While bad carbs can provide energy, they are devoid of nutrients.
Carbohydrate content in foods is measured in grams. To count carbohydrate grams in foods, you’ll need to do the following:
- know which foods contain carbohydrates
- learn to estimate the number of grams of carbohydrate in the foods you eat
- add up the number of grams of carbohydrate from each food you eat to get your total for the day
Your doctor can recommend you to a nutritionist or diabetes educator who can assist you in developing a carbohydrate-counting-based healthy eating plan.
Foods Containing Carbohydrates
The following foods items contain carbohydrates:
- grains, such as bread, noodles, pasta, crackers, cereals, and rice
- fruits, such as apples, bananas, berries, mangoes, melons, and oranges
- dairy products, such as milk and yogurt
- legumes, including dried beans, lentils, and peas
- snack foods and sweets, such as cakes, cookies, candy, and other desserts
- juices, soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks that contain sugars
- vegetables, especially “starchy” vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and peas
Starchy veggies include potatoes, peas, and maize because they are heavy in starch. In comparison to non-starchy veggies, these vegetables provide higher carbs per serving. Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce and other salad greens, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini are examples of non-starchy vegetables. Meat, fish, and poultry; most varieties of cheese; nuts; and oils and other fats are examples of foods that do not contain carbs.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EAT FOODS WITH CARBOHYDRATES?
When you eat carbohydrate-rich foods, your digestive system converts the sugars and starches into glucose. One of the most basic sugars is glucose. Glucose from your digestive system subsequently enters your bloodstream, raising your blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas or administered via injection, aids in the absorption and utilization of glucose by cells throughout the body. Blood glucose levels drop when glucose flows from the bloodstream to the cells.
Counting carbohydrates can help you maintain a healthy blood glucose level. Keeping your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible may benefit you in the following ways:
- stay healthy longer
- prevent or delay diabetes problems such as kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and blood vessel disease that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and amputations
- feel better and more energetic
To keep your blood glucose levels under control, you may need to take diabetes medications or receive insulin shots. Consult your doctor about your blood glucose goals. Targets are figures that you want to achieve. You’ll need to balance your carbohydrate intake with physical activity and diabetic medications or insulin shots to reach your goals.
HOW TO TELL IF IT IS WORKING FOR YOU
You can tell if carbohydrate counting is working for you by checking your blood glucose levels. A glucose meter can be used to check your blood glucose levels. A1C blood tests should be done at least twice a year. The A1C test measures the quantity of glucose in your blood during the previous three months.
If your blood glucose levels are excessively high, you may need to alter your eating habits or make other lifestyle adjustments. For instance, you may need to make better eating choices, increase your physical activity, or adjust your diabetic medications. Consult your doctor to determine what changes you should make to better control your blood glucose levels. Ask your doctor how to alter your insulin if you use an insulin pump or take more than one daily insulin shot.
CARBOHYDRATE COUNTING WHILE PREGNANT
When you’re pregnant, carbohydrate counting can help you keep track of your blood glucose levels. It’s critical to meet your blood glucose objectives during pregnancy for both you and your baby’s health. High blood glucose levels in the womb can damage the infant and raise the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.
Carbohydrate counting can also assist women with gestational diabetes—a kind of diabetes that arises only during pregnancy—control their blood glucose levels. Consult your doctor about utilizing carbohydrate counting to help you achieve your blood glucose goals while pregnant.