Carbohydrate Counting

Carbohydrate counting is a method used to help improve accuracy with insulin doses whilst removing a restrictive dietary approach (e.g. rationing carbohydrate contents of meals / cutting out sugary foods) that was once promoted.

It involves adjusting insulin doses to match the grams of carbohydrate in foods/beverages that are consumed. Calculating how much carbohydrate is in foods is a skill! Looking at food labels/ using reference tables/ picture guides, or weighing foods can be helpful. Carbohydrate counting will only be appropriate if advised by a diabetes specialist who will provide education on the correct doses required.

There have been several benefits associated with carbohydrate counting including (24 & 25):

  • tightening blood glucose control
  • allowing ‘food freedom’ – more flexibility around what and when to eat
  • no adverse effect on weight
  • reducing the risk of hypoglycaemic events
  • improving quality of life

Carbohydrate counting is particularly encouraged with people who have type 1 diabetes, but may also be useful for people with type 2 diabetes who are on basal bolus regimens of insulins.

If you are interested in carbohydrate counting, talk to your healthcare professional for a referral into a structured education programme or to see a Diabetes Specialist Dietitian and/or Diabetes Specialist Nurse for an individual appointment.