When it comes to managing diabetes, understanding what you eat is key. Carbohydrates can play a crucial role in managing blood sugar levels, but it's important to know the right types to eat. It's also vital to be wary of portion sizes to consume carbohydrates in the right amounts. With the right knowledge and planning, incorporating carbohydrates into a diabetes-friendly diet can help support your overall health and well-being. Read on to learn more.

If you're a recently diagnosed diabetic, carbohydrates play a major role in blood sugar regulation. Carbohydrates are the starches, sugars, and fibers found in food sources like grains, fruits, dairy products, and more. They're broken down by your body for energy to fuel physical activity or help other bodily functions. Not only do carbs play an important role in diabetes management, but understanding which types of carbs best fit into a diabetic lifestyle can go a long way towards helping you regulate blood sugar levels on a day-to-day basis. Read on to discover the intricacies of carbohydrates for diabetics, find out the benefits of particular carb-rich foods, and explore eating strategies to effectively manage blood sugar fluctuations!

What Happens When You Eat Carbs?

When you consume carbohydrates, such as bread, rice, pasta, or fruits, your body breaks them down into glucose through the process of digestion. Glucose is a simple sugar that serves as the primary source of energy for your body's cells and organs.

Once carbohydrates are converted into glucose, it enters your bloodstream, causing a rise in your blood sugar levels. In response to this increase, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts as a key that unlocks your cells, allowing glucose to enter and be used for energy production. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels by facilitating the storage of excess glucose in the liver and muscles for later use.

Relationship Between Carbohydrates and Diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by having either insufficient or inefficient insulin, which can lead to elevated blood sugar levels and various other health issues. To avoid this, people with diabetes need to pay close attention to their carb intake. While many carbs are packed with nutrients, some can cause elevated sugar levels. A balance, therefore, must be maintained by understanding the relationship between carbohydrates and diabetes. This way, a diabetic can prevent any harmful fluctuations in blood sugar levels and maintain optimal health.

If you’ve ever wondered “Are carbs bad for diabetics?”, the truth is, that there are two types of carbs based on their impact on blood sugar levels:

Simple Carbohydrates:

Simple carbs, while easy to digest, can cause a rapid elevation in blood glucose levels, especially in those with diabetes. These high glycemic index foods should be limited as much as possible. They typically include foods containing refined sugars, such as candy, sweets like gulab jamun, and sugary beverages like soda and energy drinks.

Complex Carbohydrates:

Unlike simple carbohydrates, many complex carbs take longer to digest, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar levels instead of a sudden spike, making them an ideal food for diabetics. These low glycemic index foods are typically full of fiber and include lentils, whole grains, quinoa, barley, apples, papayas, etc.

Acknowledging the relationship between carbohydrates and diabetes can thus help with your diet plans and regulate your blood sugar levels.

How Much Carbs Should a Person with Diabetes Consume?

Determining the ideal carbohydrate intake for individuals with diabetes is a personalized process, as it depends on various factors such as age, weight, activity level, and overall health. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, a balanced approach is recommended to help maintain target blood sugar levels and support overall well-being.

In general, it is advisable for a person with diabetes to include approximately 50-60% of their daily calorie intake from healthy carbohydrates, with an emphasis on complex carbs. To illustrate, if someone consumes around 1800 calories per day, their carbohydrate consumption should amount to roughly 800-900 calories, equivalent to 200-225 grams of carbohydrates.

Consulting with a healthcare professional is highly recommended to develop a tailored meal plan that aligns with your individual needs, preferences, and lifestyle.

Types of Food to Include

The following carbohydrates for diabetics are packed with essential nutrients that can do wonders for your health:

Cereals and millets: These are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These include:

  • Millets (jowar, bajra, ragi)
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grains

Pulses: These are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, and protein. These include:

  • Lentils
  • Dals (moong dal, toor dal, chana dal)
  • Kidney beans (rajma), soya beans

Non-starchy vegetables: These are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. They include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Green peas
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber

Green leafy vegetables: Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, while exerting minimal impact on blood sugar levels, these vibrant veggies encompass a wide range of options:

  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce

Fruits: Fruits that are packed with vitamins and have a low glycemic index include:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Pears

You can create delicious and diabetic-friendly recipes that use essential carbohydrates for diabetics with the above foods, like bajra upma, amaranth thoran, and dal khichdi.

Types of Foods to Limit

When creating a diabetic-friendly diet, you may ponder the question: “Are carbs bad for diabetics?” Certain carbohydrates, like starchy and high glycemic index foods, are to be restricted or had in moderation by diabetics. These include:

  • Refined grains such as white rice and white bread
  • Dairy products like butter ghee and ice cream
  • Simple carbs like candy, sweets like gulab jamun, bakery goodies
  • Sugary beverages like soda, fruit juice energy drinks
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn

Different Types of Diets Associated with Carbohydrate Intake and Diabetes

When it comes to managing carbohydrates for diabetics, there are specific dietary approaches associated with carbohydrates and diabetes. These diets can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine. However, it is crucial to emphasise that consulting with your healthcare provider before making significant dietary changes is essential for optimal diabetes management.

Plate Method and Carb Counting

As a diabetic, carbohydrate restrictions can be implied using the plate method or carb counting. This method breaks down the plate into different portions, such as carbs, proteins, and non-starchy vegetables. It is highly recommended to incorporate healthy carbohydrates for diabetics into your everyday diet, accounting for 50 - 60% of your total daily caloric intake.

Low Carb Diet

This diet focuses on reducing overall carbohydrate intake, especially refined carbs and sugary foods. Instead, it emphasises nutrient-dense, whole foods such as lean proteins, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables. The aim is to control blood sugar levels by limiting carbohydrate spikes.


Living with diabetes can be quite the challenge, but it's essential to remember that moderation is the key to keeping your blood sugar levels steady. As a diabetic, carbohydrates of certain forms should be limited, and it's important to note that not all carbs are bad for diabetics. Incorporating certain carbohydrates for diabetics, such as non-starchy vegetables, pulses, and millets, into your diet can help regulate your glucose levels. Understanding the relationship between carbohydrates and diabetes will help you create a suitable diet plan tailored to your needs. However, before making any significant changes to your diet, it's vital to consult with your healthcare professional to ensure that you're on the right track. Remember: managing diabetes can be difficult, but with a little bit of effort and attention, it's possible to lead a healthy and balanced life.