Why Count Carbs?
Foods contain varying amounts of carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. When you use carb counting, you focus on the carbohydrate in foods. Why is that? Because carbohydrate raises your blood glucose more – and more quickly – than the two other nutrients that provide calories – protein and fat (excluding alcohol).
Adding up the amount of carbohydrate in each meal and snack that you eat each day can help you keep your blood glucose at a steady level, adjust your insulin as needed (if you take it), and feel your best.
Variety: The spice of Life
Carb counting also allows you to enjoy a wide variety of foods, as long as you eat about the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal and snack each day. The foods don’t need to remain the same, but the amount of carbohydrate should. When you eat about the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal, day in and day out, your blood glucose levels are more likely to fall into a steady pattern. That means better blood glucose control for you.
Which Foods Contain Carbohydrate?
Most people tend to equate carbohydrate with starches. Starches, such as potatoes, breads, and pasta, do contain carbohydrate, but they’re not the only foods under the “carbohydrate umbrella”. Here is a complete list of the food groups whose calories come mainly from carbohydrate:
• Starches – bread, cereal, crackers, rice, and pasta
• Starchy vegetables – peas, beans, lentils, potatoes, an corn
• Fruit and fruit juice
• Nonstarchy vegetables – tomatoes, cauliflower, and carrots
• Dairy foods – milk, yogurt, and other dairy foods
• Sugar drinks – regular soda, fruit punch, sports drinks, and flavored waters
• Sweets – candy, cakes, cookies, and pies
After reading this list, you might wonder which foods do not contain carbohydrate. There are a few:
• Meats (red meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs)
• Fats (oil, butter, and nuts)
Although these foods that don’t contain carbohydrate wont’ be part of your daily carb counting totals, you still need to pay attention to them. They contain calories and other nutrients that are also important to a healthy eating plan.
How Much Carbohydrate Is in These Foods?
The list of foods above includes general groups of foods that contain carbohydrate. But within each food group, there can be a wide range in the actual amount of carbohydrate in each food. For example, the amount of carbohydrate in dairy foods varies quite a bit. On average, 8 ounces of most cheeses contains about 8 grams of carbohydrate, whereas 8 ounces of milk contains 12 grams of carbohydrate.