“Carbs” is short for carbohydrates. Like other major nutrients— protein and fat—carbs provide your body with energy or calories.
Counting carbs helps you keep track of the carbs in all your meals, snacks and drinks, and aids in matching your activity level and medication with the food you eat.
Many people with diabetes count carbs to make managing blood sugar easier, which can also help them:
- Stay healthy longer.
- Feel better and improve their quality of life.
- Prevent or delay diabetes complications such as kidney disease, eye disease, heart disease and stroke. There are three types of carbohydrates
- Sugars, such as the natural sugar in fruit and milk or the added sugar in soda and many other packaged foods.
- Starches, including wheat, oats and other grains; starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes; and dried beans, lentils and peas.
- Fiber, the part of plant foods that isn’t digested but helps you stay healthy. Sugars and starches raise blood sugar, but fiber doesn’t.
By choosing your carbs wisely, you can still keep your blood sugar within healthy limits while providing your body with important vitamins and minerals.
Talk with your physician or dietitian about the right amount of carbs for you, and be sure to update your meal plan if your needs change. For example, if you get more active, you may increase the amount of carbs you eat. You can also ask about tasty, healthy recipes that can help you stay on top of your carb intake, which will make it easier to manage your blood sugar levels too.