Carbohydrate: How Low Should You Go?

When it comes to food and diabetes carbohydrate takes center stage. That’s because carbohydrate impacts your blood glucose – also called blood sugar, levels more than any other nutrient. However, the ideal amount of carbohydrate in the management of diabetes is unclear.

Expert advice on recommended carbohydrate intake has gone through several cycles over the years—ranging from low to high carbohydrate. Many people with diabetes believe that total carbohydrate restriction is the only way to manage diabetes. Results of a new review study suggest that moderate carbohydrate intake may be the best way to manage diabetes.

When individuals in the study followed a low to moderate carbohydrate diet with 57 grams to 198 grams (g) carbohydrate, they had a lower A1C compared to those who followed a high carbohydrate diet with 133 g to 205 g of carbohydrate. Moreover, the greater the carbohydrate restriction, the more significant the glucose-lowering effect. The A1C test tells what your average blood glucose level has been every day for the past 90 days.

Experts agree that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to carbohydrate and it’s the total amount of carbohydrate – sugar, starch, or fiber at the meal that affects your blood glucose levels. It’s reasonable for most adults to eat 45 g to 60 g of carbohydrate per meal or a total of 135 g to 180 g carbohydrate per day.

Adults on low-calorie diets and adults who are physically inactive may want to aim for the lower end of that range. To determine how much carbohydrate is best for you, check your blood glucose levels two hours after the start of your meal. According to the American Diabetes Association, a blood glucose level less than 180 mg/dl is an indicator of good diabetes control.

Before attempting to follow a low carbohydrate diet with less than 130 g carbohydrate, you should…