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Counting Carbohydrate Grams or Servings

Topic Overview

Your doctor, registered dietitian, or certified diabetes educator may suggest that you use one of two ways to count carbohydrate in your diet. For both, 15 grams of carbohydrate equals one serving. Use the method that is easiest for you.

  • Counting grams of carbohydrate. For example, if you want to eat 45 grams of carbohydrate, you would choose three servings (3 servings x 15 grams per serving = 45 grams). So for breakfast, you could choose three servings of different foods (such as oatmeal, milk, and half of a banana) or three servings of the same food (such as a larger serving of oatmeal).
  • Counting servings of carbohydrate. In this system, 15 grams equals 1 carbohydrate serving. Instead of counting 45 grams of carbohydrate at breakfast, you would count 3 carbohydrate servings.

Know your daily amount

Your daily amount depends on several things—your weight, how active you are, what diabetes medicines you take, and what your goals are for your blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator can help you plan how much carbohydrate to include in each meal and snack.

For most adults, a guideline for the daily amount of carbohydrate is:

  • 45 to 60 grams at each meal. That's about the same as 3 to 4 carbohydrate servings.
  • 15 to 20 grams at each snack. That's about the same as 1 carbohydrate serving.

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Credits

Current as of: April 16, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Colleen O'Connor PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian

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