Counting Carbohydrate Grams or Servings

Overview

Your doctor, registered dietitian, or certified diabetes educator may suggest that you use one of two ways to count carbohydrates in your diet. Use the method that is easiest for you.

For both, 15 grams of carbohydrate equals one serving. You can either:

Count grams of carbohydrates.

For example, if you want to eat 45 grams of carbohydrates, you would choose three servings of carbohydrate food (3 servings x 15 grams per serving = 45 grams). You could choose one serving of three 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).

Count servings of carbohydrates.

Instead of counting grams of carbohydrates, you would count 3 carbohydrate servings.

How to plan your daily amount

Your daily amount of carbs depends on several things, such as your weight, how active you are, which diabetes medicines you take, and what your goals are for your blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian or diabetes educator can help you plan how many carbs to include in each meal and snack.

For most adults, a guideline for the daily amount of carbs 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.

Credits

Current as of: September 8, 2021

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