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How to Count Carbohydrates to Lose Weight and Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Updated on January 23, 2020
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Margaret Minnicks is a health-conscious person who researches the health benefits of foods and drinks.


Most people know that eating too many carbohydrates is not healthy. However, they might not know the number of grams they should eat to maintain their desired weight and a balanced blood sugar level.

It is easy to reduce carbohydrates when people know which foods are loaded with them and which foods have the least amount. When you eat fewer grams of carbohydrates that the body requires on a daily basis, two important things happen.

  1. You will lose weight.
  2. Your blood sugar will be at a normal level.

What Exactly Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are many times shortened to just carbs. The main purpose of carbs is to provide energy because it is the body’s main source of fuel. They are sugar-based molecules found in almost all foods. Some foods have more carbohydrates than others. Everyone should watch the carbs they eat and especially diabetics because too many carbs will cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

Even if you are not a diabetic, you should aim to get about only half your calories from complex carbohydrates, 20-25% from protein, and no more than 30% from fat, according to Lalita Kaul, PhD, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.


Carbohydrates Come in Three Forms

The American Diabetes Association says carbohydrates get their name because they contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

Carbohydrates come in three forms: sugar, starch, and fiber. They are in almost every food we eat and everything we drink. Sugar is the worth kind of carbohydrates. It metabolizes quickly and causes spikes in blood sugar levels. Sugars are found naturally in fruits and are added in cookies, cakes, pies, and candies.


Starch is found in starchy vegetables, dried beans, grains, pasta, rice, and potatoes. Starch metabolizes slower than sugar.

Fiber is the one that is undigestible. It helps the body feel full for a long time. Fiber reduces cholesterol and helps with weight management. Fiber is found in plant foods and animal products like eggs, meat, and fish.


The Recommended Daily Amount of Carbohydrates

The recommended daily amount for carbohydrates for adults is between 250-325 grams per day. Eating less will cause a weight loss and help to maintain a balanced blood sugar level for diabetics.

Diabetics should divide their carbs throughout the day. For instance, they should have about 45 to 60 grams of carbs for each of their three main meals and 15 to 30 grams of carbs for their snacks.

Snacks are necessary for diabetics who use insulin or pills because snacks increase insulin that might result in a normal blood sugar reading. Snacks aren't that critical for people who aren't diabetics and don't use pills or insulin.

Control Your Carb Intake

Most people should eat between 45% and 65% of the total calories in their carbs intake. Therefore, a diet of 1,800 calories would be between 202 and 292 grams of carbs. Ideally, diabetics should not eat more than 200 grams of carbs per day. Pregnant women need at least 175 grams.

Carbs are sugar-based molecules. Therefore, they have a very big impact on blood sugar levels. The body breaks carbs down into sugars, and then insulin moves the sugars into cells. A person's blood sugar will rise when a person eats too many carbs. The American Diabetes Association recommends controlling carb intake by counting carbs and reducing them to maintain a balanced blood sugar level.

How to Count Carbs

Carbohydrates amounts have already been provided on food labels. There are no labels for vegetables and fruits. However, you can check online for the number of carbohydrates that are in those foods.

Amount of Carbohydrates in Foods

Food labels list the total amount of carbohydrates per serving, including carbs from fiber, sugar, and sugar alcohols. If you're counting carbs in your diet, be aware that 15 grams of carbohydrates count as one serving.

Here are some foods that contain 15 grams of carbohydrates.

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/3 cup of pasta
  • 3/4 cup of dry cereal
  • 1 cup nonfat skim milk
  • 4-6 saltines
  • 1 small piece of fruit
  • 1/2 cup fruit juice
  • 1 cup of light or plain yogurt
  • 2 cookies
  • 1/2 cup of ice cream

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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