Help with carb counting

What’s a sensible ball-park number of carbs to aim for in an evening meal? (I’m a 35yo type 1, normal height and weight, etc.)

Not sure for your age but my 13 year old son is to get a total of 330 grams of carbs a day. This includes 3 meals plus two snacks. His dietician and doctor gave us this figure. My son is very tall and thin. He just finished his fasting for his pump and they raised him from 270 grams of carbs a day to the 330 figure.

You will find, Inch that we vary in our carbs, from Bernstein followers who eat only 30 per day to the above 330 grams (which is now the highest I’ve ever seen - at least that somebody planned for or was told to eat). I don’t think there is a definitive answer to your question because we all approach this differently. There is no doubt that the less carbs, the less insulin and therefore the easier to control blood sugar. I don’t adhere to Bernstein myself (I eat what I consider moderate/low - you will find that people use all these terms differently! )- which for me is under 100 a day. But I do agree with Bernstein’s “Law of Small Numbers” which says the less insulin you use the less chance for error and going either too high or too low. Makes sense to me.

For me, I find there is a threshold of about 50 carbs for dinner beyond which my normal I:C ratio doesn’t seem to operate predictably so I usually stay clear of that boundary. We all make our choices at different levels for different reasons. There are some who say they “eat whatever they want and bolus for it”. I find a couple flaws in that thinking: First , especially as you get into your 40s your metabolism changes and you will find it easier to gain weight, and second if you use a lot of insulin to cover a lot of carbs, it’s easy for even a type 1 to develop insulin resistance which is not good. On the other hand, for me, my decision to not eat low carb is based on life choices: I’m a vegetarian which makes it harder to reduce carbs and I’m a foodie - I love cooking complex dishes with natural ingredients. So I compromise and achieve a decent A1C, where if I went low carb I might have a great one.

Another factor in choosing how much carbs to eat is activity level. Some people who are very physically active can, obviously eat more carbs and still have good blood sugars, take a non-excessive insulin dose and not gain weight. Others (like yours truly) who don’t exercise much have less leeway.

I don’t think anyone can give specific answers to your question (and if they do they are only giving their own choice), but it’s great to hear a variety of people’s options and why they make the choices they do. Then you can sort through them for what works for you.=

Actually, at the age of 13, your son is reaching the age where he should be eating protein and lifting weights to gain weight. Just overeating carbs and bolusing larger amounts of insulin is a way to gain weight, namely fat. To preferentially gain lean body mass, you should focus on protein.

Interesting recommendations. Do you have some particular experience or studies to support this?

We are following my son’s doctor’s orders. He is a growing 13 year old. He has grown inches in a very short time. His doctor and dietician are the professionals and they are telling him that they would like for him to eat a total of 330 grams of carbs a day. It does NOT mean eat it all in cake and ice cream. They have taught him how to eat a balanced meal. He is to have 3 cups of milk a day, 2 servings of veggies, 2 servings of fruit, 18 grams of fiber a day, etc. etc. I agree a balanced diet is what we are after. He did lose minimal weight while fasting and no snacks during his basal testing and now they are adding the food back into his diet. We are not trying to make him gain weight. As far as lifting weights, if he chooses to in order to improve his sport skills that is his choice. He does get a lot of exercise with his baseball and basketball.

I don’t think eating 330 grams of carbs in healthy for anyone of any age. Just because someone is a “professional” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some research on your own. If someone at age 13 learns bad habits of eating high carbs, this is setting a precident for life that is not healthy.

Hi Zoe -

I assume that you mean 330 grams of carbs isn’t healthy for anyone with diabetes which may or may not be correct. I don’t know enough about the nutritional needs of teenagers to venture an opinion on that question. But tall non-diabetic adults doing heavy labor may well need more than 1320 calories from carbohydrates which would be less than 50% of their total calories.


Hi -

I see you’ve just been diagnosed. Welcome to the club. The key to control is matching your insulin to your carbohydrates. Have you been taught to carb count yet? If you’re not using an insulin to carb ratio, what is your current insulin regime?


I’m sorry, Maurie, I don’t know what 1320 calories from carbs equates to. I agree that I don’t know much about the specific needs of teenagers, but I do know that our society eats an incredibly high amount of carbs and that this is leading to the obesity problem in our culture. While I don’t think it is appropriate for teens to eat low carb, I can’t imagine that that much carbs is healthy for anyone!

I agree with this Maurie, and do think we have gotten away from the OP’s question and needs to learn more about carbs and diabetes!

1320 cals= 330 carbs

helpful conversion chart:
1g fat has 8 cals
1g carb/protein has 4
1g alcohol has 7

The amazing thing is that 330 grams of carbs isn’t all that many. I probably ate about 300 carbs per day before diagnosis and kept my BMI in the normal range with only moderate physical activity and I’m only 5’10".

Hello and welcome, Inch. What about a different perspective? What would you eat normally - I mean before you were diagnosed?

I think that one factor in figuring out how many carbs you should eat is to understand how well you tolerate carbs. If you are able to maintain tight blood sugar control with higher levels of carbs, then you will have the freedom to eat more carbs. Some of that will be affected by how young you are, your activity levels and the “luck of the draw.” So how is your blood sugar control with your current diet? Ok, or room for improvement?

This is a really loaded question. For me, I feel my best when I limit my carbs to around 100 g/day. I am very active and, on this amount of carbs, require about 15-17 units of insulin per day total (although this can vary based on a lot of factors, and some days I need as much as 20). That said, my CDE/dietician was really against my limiting carbs in this manner and recommended that I need to be closer to at least 150. However, when I increase my carbs, I find that I have more flucutations in blood sugar that are harder to control. Those fluctuations are less predictable (while fluctuations that probably stem from other factors, such as changes in hormones, are easier for me to deal with).

I think the big “carb debate” is one that is a personal choice. Dieticiens are trained a certain way. But at the end of the day, diabetes is a disease of complete self management, and you have to find what works for you. While I can survive on 50 carbs per day, I found it too hard to do. 100 g/day seems to be my own personal sweet spot at this point in my life.

All I can tell you is his dietician wants him to eat 2300 - 2600 calories a day. Most days he doesn’t eat that much. Most days now he isn’t get the 330 grams of carbs a day. He by NO means is anywhere even close to over weight. He is in fact slightly under weight. His doctors feel that is because he is growing in inches (tall) very fast right now. I am sure as he becomes an adult and is finished growing the amount of food he eats will change just as it does for anyone. I know I can not eat the same amount of food that I could when I was a teenager. Being diabetic doesn’t change that fact. If he ate more then the rest of his teenage buddies (who are NOT overweight) then maybe I would be concerned, but for now I am choosing to have faith in his doctors/dietician and most importantly in God.

I think both bsc and doglady did a good job of describing simply how we each chose how many carbs to eat. I think all of us that have found what works for us feel good about it and sometimes get a bit too enthusiastic in wanting to “tell the world” and sometimes these discussions get contentious. Speaking just for myself. I got bothered by something someone posted and was ready to fire off a hot reply when I saw that person had deleted her post at which point I deleted my reply and the post that had prompted hers. So if this thread looks a tad, well, threadbare, it’s because two people did the right thing and tempered their initial reactions! Well said you two.

i eat about 20-30g of carbs in the evening…which seems to work out well given i’m not usually very active after 7pm. i have really effectively reduced my carb intake, and this is the level i feel happiest at :slight_smile:

Really interesting and helpful to hear everyone’s views. I suppose I asked the question because although I’m not overweight I have quite a big appetite and a lot of the things I’m used to eating (eg pizzas) are high in carbs. What I’m realising is that I need to eat a wider range of food types so I’m still having a proper, filling meal but not all carbs. :slight_smile: I’m pretty lazy in the kitchen so that’s going to be the challenge. Bring on the fresh fruit and veg!
I’ve been started on what seems to be relatively low levels of insulin - 6u bolus and 3x2u novorapid a day. I’ve been trying to keep my carb intake down to work with that dose of insulin but I realise that may not be practical in the end. It’s quite a balancing act but I guess it will come with time.
Really helpful to hear from others on this kind of thing. Thanks.