Johns Hopkins Diabetes GuideManagementLifestyle and Education

Nutrition: Carbohydrate counting

Christine McKinney, RD, LDN, CDE, Thomas Donner, M.D., Emily Loghmani, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, Christopher Saudek, M.D.
Nutrition: Carbohydrate counting is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins Diabetes Guide.

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DEFINITION

  • A meal planning approach for any type of diabetes that uses estimating carbohydrate intake to promote glycemic control.
  • For people using diet alone, oral diabetes medications or fixed insulin doses, consistent carbohydrate intake for meals and snacks is recommended to improve glycemic control.
  • For people using prandial insulin with insulin-to-carbohydrate ratios or insulin pump therapy, carbohydrate counting should be used to match the prandial insulin dose to the amount of carbohydrates. These people may still benefit from some consistency in the amount and source of carbohydrates [5].
  • Carbohydrate counting allows flexibility in food choices and helps promote glycemic control.
  • The amount of carbohydrates is the main determinant of the postprandial glucose, but the type of carbohydrate can also affect the response [6].
  • Other methods for estimating carbohydrate intake are carbohydrate choices and experience-based estimations.

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Last updated: January 23, 2014