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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How many carbs are ideal per meal when trying to regulate type 2 diabetes?

    I'm not on any medication.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 7


    Carolien Koreneff

    Counsellor, Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator, Psychotherapist, Registered Nurse

    Carolien Koreneff is a Somatic (body-oriented) psychotherapist, Health Coach, Counsellor as well as a Credentialed Diabetes Educator with over 20 years experience. She currently sees … View Profile

    When counting carbohydrates we would usually do this in “servings” or “portions” of carbohydrates (CHO). I portion=1 serve CHO= 15 g CHO.
    People with type 2 diabetes are often asked to restrict their CHO intake in an effort to keep their weight in check. If you are overweight you may want to limit your CHO intake to around 12 portions per day. This combined with regular physical activity should see you loose some weight. 
    It is also important to spread the carbohydrates out across the day. Usually the recommendation is to have around 2-3 portions for main meals and 1 or 2 for snacks in between your main meals. The idea is that spreading the CHO across the day will make it easier for your body to produce the insulin that is required and keeps your metabolism active.
    Chosing carbohydrates that are lower in Glycaemic Index will help you to feel fuller for longer and tend to keep blood glucose leves more stable. So it is not just the quantity of CHO that is important, the quality also has an important role to play.

    I would also like to remind you that it is not only about carbohydrates. For all of us, whether you have diabetes or not, it is important to have a healthy lifestyle. This includes also watching your fat and fibre intake and incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine.

  • 6


    Nicole Senior

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, consultant, author, speaker and food and health enthusiast. I love talking and writing about food and health.(please note, … View Profile

    People with type 2 diabetes may not use the carbohydrate exchange system, depending on how much education they've received from a dietitian, and how well this system suits their situation. However if it is used, this is how it is calculated.
    The average adult eats 8700kJ and it is recommended to consume around 50% of daily kilojoules as carbohydrate, which is 270g carbohydrate a day (carbs contain 16kJ per gram). Carbohydrate exchanges used in diabetes education are 15g each, so 270g of carbohydrate is 18 exchanges. If you divide these up over the day as three meals and 3 snacks (people with diabetes are advised to spread carbohydrate intake over the day), you get a pattern like this:
    Breakfast- 4 exchanges
    Morning tea- 2 exchanges
    Lunch - 4 exchanges
    Afternoon tea- 2 exchanges
    Dinner - 4 exchanges
    Supper - 2 exchanges

    Of course many people with diabetes are recommended to lose weight and thus need to consume fewer kilojoules, 6700kJ for instance. Doing all the same caculations on this lower kilojoule level yields a total carbohydrate intake of 210g (14 exchanges) and the following pattern
    Breakfast- 3
    Morning tea- 2
    Lunch- 3
    Afternoon tea- 2
    Dinner- 3
    Supper- 1

    This exchange system can be implemented using an exchange list of foods and/or reading food labels, and choosing low GI carbohydrate-rich foods wherever possible is recommended

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