Your Diabetes-Fighting Food Plan: Keying in on Carbs

As important as carbohydrate control is for blood sugar control, experts still can’t agree on how many carbs people with diabetes or prediabetes should be eating.  In the past two blogs, I told you that about 30 percent of your daily calories should come from fat, and 20 to 30 percent from protein.  So, by default, that leaves you with 40 to 50 percent of your total calories from carbohydrates. We hover around 40 percent in the meal plans on and in the book I co-authored with Bob Greene and John J. Merendino, M.D., The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-diabetes.

To prevent (or at least minimize) blood sugar surges, your carbohydrate intake should be coordinated with your diabetes medication, especially if you’re taking insulin or another drug that lowers blood sugar.  Your health-care provider should help you with that.

And everyone with diabetes or prediabetes will find that choosing rougher, coarser cuts of grains will be easier on blood sugar than refined ones. That’s because these grains tend to have a lower glycemic index, meaning blood sugar doesn’t rise as high or as quickly as it would after eating a refined grain. For instance, steel cut oats are better than regular oatmeal, which is better than O-shaped cold cereal. Wheat berries, bulgur wheat and whole-grain pasta also have a low glycemic index. And minimize sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, fruit juice sweetener and other sweeteners, which stick you with a lot of nutritionally empty calories and tend to spike blood sugar.

Here’s how we portioned out carbohydrates in the meal plans on the diabetes section of

                                       Daily Calories

                                             1,500            1,700            2,000            2,250

Breakfast carbs (g)            34                  34                 40                   40

Lunch carbs (g)                  48                 48                  48                   48

Dinner carbs (g)               45                 45                  52                    52

Snack #1 carbs (g)              12                 12                   18                    18

Snack #2 carbs (g)              5                   5                    18                    18

Snack #3 carbs (g)            ————-No snack————–            21

Treat carbs (g)                   No treat         15                   15                    15

If you’re a member of, you can go the diabetes site to see how these numbers play out in real meals—we have a great meal plan. And you’ll learn how to size up carbohydrates as servings of fruit, starches, and other food groups so you don’t even have to think about number of grams. By joining the website, you have access to both the regular site and the diabetes site.


  1. 1

    Thank you for writing these 3 blogs on diabetes. I’ve learned more from these blogs & “Managing Diabetes” than from my own doctor’s diabetes educator!

  2. 2

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