AskNadia: How Many Carbs a Day for Diabetics

Dear Nadia,

How many carbs should be eaten by a diabetic in one day?

 Narendra K

 Dear Narendra:

There are no simple answers to your question.

It goes without saying that carbohydrates are the one food source that can be the most dangerous to people living with diabetes. How dangerous depends on the type and quantity of carbs you consume.

Ironically, people with diabetes have been far ahead of the curve when it comes to questioning the conventional wisdom that focusing on carbs and avoiding fat and protein are the best ways to protect themselves from cardiovascular disease.

In hindsight it’s ironic when Americans joined the low fat cult in the 1990’s, the rate of new diabetes cases skyrocketed.

Should people with diabetes still consume carbohydrates? Definitely yes.  But that “yes” has some important considerations attached to it and needs to be discussed with your healthcare professional.

The Number of Grams

What range of daily grams of carb consumption is “good” or “bad?” The American Diabetes Association recommends daily consumption of up to 130 to 160 grams of carbs, spread over three or more meals.

Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, a type 1 and guru in the diabetes industry, has been able to keep his blood glucose down around 83—the statistical norm for non-diabetic people—by severely restricting his carb consumption. He advises his patients to eat no more than 30 grams of carbohydrates daily.

That’s quite a large spread between two well known sources. But given what we now know about carbs, it would appear following Dr. Bernstein’s advice, keeping carb intake as low as possible, 30 grams of carbs per day is difficult for most people.

The Types of Carbs Are Important

Even before researchers realized that increased carb consumption could be directly linked to cardiovascular problems, some of them realized that there was a big difference between Cheetos and oatmeal. This led to the creation of the “Glycemic Index,” which rated carbohydrates on a scale, indicating how slowly the body metabolized their intake. The lower the glycemic number, the better the carb in the diabetic scheme of things. See the footnote below for a link to the Glycemic Index.

That said, I can’t recommend the grams of carbohydrates you should consume daily because this is a discussion you need to have with your healthcare professional. The daily medication and dosage you take to manage your diabetes needs to be factored in with your diet- to achieved the best possible blood

You might also be interested in reading some of Dr Bernstein’s interviews.


 ADA Glycemic Index l


Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professionals’ therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:

Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview, now Diabetes Health magazine.

Nadia has received 14 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.
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