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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why am I told to eat carbs if I have diabetes type 2?

    I'm confused, I'm a diabetic and was told it's because I became insulin resistance and hence sensitive to carbohydrates like bread pasta etc so my question is why am I'm told to eat carbs if I'm sensitive to carbs? Shouldn't I restrict eating them or stop eating them? Can someone please explain why I should eat carbs being a diabetic? Thanks.
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  • 1


    Clare Wolski

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm Clare and I'm a passionate Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD). I love empowering people with good nutrition information so they can make the best decisions … View Profile

    Hi there!

    This is a really great (and quite common) question! Thanks so much for raising it. 

    You make a very good point. If my body is more sensitive to a nutrient, shouldn't I avoid it? The answer is 'it depends'. 

    There is alot of emerging research about the best dietary management of insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Alot of this research indicates that reducing carbohydrate intake is an important part of the solution, but that does depend on what your orginal carbohydrate consumption is like. Individuals consuming a high to moderate carbohydrate intake (which is about 60% or more of their energy coming from carbohydrates) see improvements in insulin resistance when they reduce to a low carbohydrate intake (about 40% of energy from carbohydrates) 

    This, however does not mean a NO carbohydrate diet. It is amost impossible to eat a no carbohydrate diet because even non-starchy vegetbales contain some carbohydrate. 

    This most significant improvement to insulin resistance is seen with weight reduction (about 10% of body weight has a marked improvement on insulin resistance) and the most sustainable way to lose weight is through a consistent eating pattern. It is very difficult to be consistent with a very low carbohydrate diet, so including some low GI carbohydrates can be beneficial in achieving healthy weight loss and improving insulin resistance

    To figure out what the optimal level of carbohydrate intake is for you, it's best to speak to an Accredited Practising Dietitian. 

    I hope this is helpful and if you would like to chat further please don't hesitate to contact me. 


    Clare Wolski, APD

  • 1


    Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    Great question, thought you may find the following of interest, wishing you all the best!

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    Thank you for the link very interesting considering this is completely different information to what I'm told to do and this makes more sense then eating ccarbohydrates 

  • 2


    Chris Hughes

    Dietitian, Sports Dietitian

    At CQ Nutrition we deliver expert service via medical nutrition therapy, a thorough diet assessment, individualised meal plans, cooking tips, meal suggestions, snack ideas, information … View Profile

    I encounter this question quite often in practice. The answer to this really depends on your ability to utilise carbohydrates. This varies significantly between individuals and is based on your insulin sensitivity, medications and physical activity level. 

    Quite often there is a debate between groups promting either low or moderate/high carb. I think (and would hope) that everyone agrees that we do not need many highly processed carbohydrates such as soft drinks and lollies etc. The carbohydrate food group however is quite broad and incorporates the highly processed carbohydrates mentioned previously in addition to the less refined fruits, wholegrain cereals and low GI starchy vegetables. The latter group of carbohydrates are the most nutrient dense, full of fibre and B vitamins and a great addition to any diet.

    To determine how you respond to the carbohydrates in your diet I would recommend testing your blood glucose level both just before a meal, and then two hours after you start eating. If your levels jump significantly then it may be an indication that the amount of carbohydrates in that meal was too much for your body to handle. This method is a great starting point, however it has limitations and is best completed with assistance of a Credentialed Diabetes Educator or a Accredited Practicing Dietitian. 

    Thanks for the question,

    Chris Hughes APD

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    thank you for your reply Chris.  Interesting as lately I have been on prednisone due to my Ulcerative Colitis so I have to go on insulin as it affects my diabetes causing my sugar levels to be high... the interesting thing is when I am on prednisone my hunger is crazy and when I eat some carbs my sugar levels are high, yet I am told that insulin loves carbs. It is like a vicious cycle if I don't eat a lot of carbs I end up having hypos and if I eat carbs my sugar spikes. I know half of the problem is because I am also on prednisone at the moment but I truley believe carbs are not helping my diabetes at all.  now if I can work out a balance on how much to eat that will be perfect.

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