How Many Carbs Should You Eat If You Have Diabetes?

How Many Carbs Should You Eat If You Have Diabetes?

Figuring out how many carbs to eat when you have diabetes can seem confusing.

Dietary guidelines from around the globe traditionally recommend that you get around 45–60% of your daily calories from carbs if you have diabetes (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

However, a growing number of experts believe that people with diabetes should eat far fewer carbs. In fact, many recommend less than half of this amount.

This article tells you how many carbs you should eat if you have diabetes.

What are diabetes and prediabetes?
Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main source of fuel for your body’s cells.

If you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your ability to process and use blood sugar is impaired.

Type 1 diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, your pancreas is unable to produce insulin, a hormone that allows sugar from your bloodstream to enter your cells. Instead, insulin must be injected.

This disease is caused by an autoimmune process in which your body attacks its own insulin-producing cells, which are called beta cells. While usually diagnosed in children, it can start at any age — even in late adulthood (3Trusted Source).

Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is more common, accounting for about 90% of diagnoses. Like type 1, it can develop in both adults and children. However, it isn’t as common in children and typically occurs in people who are overweight or obese.

In this form of the disease, your pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin or your cells are resistant to insulin’s effects. Therefore, too much sugar stays in your bloodstream.

Over time, your beta cells can degrade as a result of pumping out more and more insulin in an attempt to lower blood sugar. They can also become damaged from high levels of sugar in your blood (4Trusted Source).

Diabetes can be diagnosed by an elevated fasting blood sugar level or an elevated level of the marker HbA1c, which reflects blood sugar control over a period of two to three months (5Trusted Source).

Before type 2 diabetes occurs, blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This stage is known as prediabetes.

Prediabetes is diagnosed by a blood sugar level of 100–125 mg/dL (5.6–6.9 mmol/L) or an HbA1c level of 5.7–6.4% (5Trusted Source).

While not everyone with prediabetes develops type 2 diabetes, it’s estimated that approximately 70% will eventually develop this condition (6Trusted Source).

What’s more, even if prediabetes never progresses to diabetes, people with this condition may still be at an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and other complications related to high blood sugar levels (6Trusted Source).

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