How many carbs should a diabetic consume in a day?

Updated February 21, 2017

Diabetics count carbohydrates for every meal and snack throughout the day. Carbs raise blood glucose more than any other food item because they turn quickly to sugar. To stabilise blood sugar levels, diabetics watch their carbohydrate intake, along with their fat and calorie intake. A dietitian determines the amount of allowable carbs based on several factors.


Starches and sugars are carbohydrates. Carbs, the primary source of energy for your body, include bread, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables (such as potatos, squash, peas, and corn), fruit, legumes, crackers, cereal, milk, yoghurt and sugary foods.


Carbs are measured in carbohydrate grams. One carbohydrate serving equals 15 grams. A small fruit is 15 carbohydrate grams. One slice of bread, 1/2 cup of pasta or 1/3 cup of rice is each one serving of carbohydrates. Three cups of popcorn, 1/2 cup of starchy vegetables or one cup of milk is also one serving of carbs.

Meal Range

A general range of carbohydrate intake for a diabetic is between 30 and 60 grams per meal. For women, dietitians usually suggest 30 to 45. For men, the amount is 45 to 60 grams.


Snacks should be limited to one serving of carbs, or 15 grams. Examples include: a small fruit, three graham crackers, six ounces of yoghurt, 1/2 cup of sugar-free pudding, 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese with 1/4 cup of fruit, five wheat crackers, two rice cakes or one granola bar.


The total amount of carbohydrates for the day depends upon your age, gender, activity level, weight and the amount of insulin you have to take. People who are more active require more carbs. Those who need to lose weight require fewer. The average amount of daily carbohydrates varies from 130 grams to 200 grams. The key to maintaining blood sugar is to spread the carbs throughout the day and eat the same amount of carbohydrate grams per meal. Check DiabetesNet for specific formulas.

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About the Author

Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.