Oh, those carbs!

After my discussion on “How normal is normal?” I was left with a lot of questions regarding carb intake. We all know this food group is the one we have to watch the most, but there is this popular believe that you have to cut them too much. Then I remembered (I’m a Biologist) that only brain function requires a minimum of 130 grams of carbs a day. And it is more than wise to ingest AT LEAST that amount of carbohydrates.

So my nutritionists numbers were good. 45-60 grams of carbs per meal, preferably the lowest one. No more, NO LESS. We need carbs too, we are functioning bodies, glucose is the brain’s fuel. I certainly want to make sure mine works properly.

I just felt like posting this. There is much talk about low-carb or (GASPS!) no-carbs diets, and it never made sense to me.

Being on an insulin pump I can eat as many carbs a day as I want of course the down side is that I take more insulin which equals weight gain even though I have a very high metabolism. Low carb no way-I believe in moderation, extremes at either end are for the birds!!!

The brain can get the glucose it needs from the protein you eat. 58% of a gram of protein can be converted to carb.

So you do not need to eat ANY carb at all to maintain your brain as long as you eat enough protein. This is another one of those “facts” that ignorant nutritionists pass around.

I managed to publish a couple of books while eating 60 grams a day for 3 years. My brain was just fine!

Jenny, I appreciate the information you provide. While I did know the metabolism of amino acids has glucose as one of the final products, I never thought of it as a good source of glucose.

I’ve been on the Atkins diet before, when I didn’t know anything, and the thought of producing all those ketones at the end of the lipid cycle makes me shudder now. Now protein is a different thing, but for me it’s almost unnatural to expect my body to extract the energy it needs just from them. The body has minimum requirements for proper function, and you may obtain the nutrients you need from other sources rather than carbs, but I still want to go the natural, normal biochemical way.

David said it like it is: all in moderation. I don’t think ingesting 130 grams of carbs a day is bad for your health.

I suppose it’s all about personal choices. What works for some people may not work for others. That is why I post things like this, when I have doubts, and when I need some input.

That is about what I eat 130 grams a day. I used eat closer to 200 grams and I put on weight!! Thought you were joking about the brain needing 130 grams of carbs!

In order for your body to perform at its peak effeciency \ performance, it is not good to neglect your body of any of the “fuels” that keep your body going. Your entire body needs the carbohydrates for fuel. You can use the analogy of a car. Without gas (carbs) the car begins to sputter, jerk and die. your body it the vehicle and the carbs are the gas. Yes, your body can use its reserve to fuel itself but it is not being as healthy. Everything should be in moderation. Well said David. I run on about 275g of carb per day


If you can eat 130 grams of carbs a day and attain normal blood sugars, it’s good for your health.

When I was not on insulin, eating 130 grams of carbs a day would have guaranteed me blood sugars over 200 mg/dl at every meal. There is NO way that is healthy. Ever. For anyone.

So unless you are using insulin, the only amount of carbohydrate that is “healthy” is the amount that keeps your blood sugars low enough to avoid producing cross linked proteins, killing nerves, clogging your kidneys, etc.

Wow! I can understand why you had to cut down your carbs so much. I can attain my normal levels with diet and meds. I’m very happy about it! :slight_smile: I’m very well aware of diabetes complications, my father was a diabetic and the word has been in the family for as long as I can remember.


Sounds like you have got it together!

I have a weird kind of diabetes with normal fasting blood sugar and almost no ability to secrete insulin in response to food. So I had a heckuva time getting diagnosed, since docs would see my 98 mg/dl fasting blood sugar and say, “You’re fine.” I’d be going up to 250 after eating, but they would ignore that. So I had no choice but very low carb dieting for quite a while.

That was 9 years ago. Fortunately, there’s been a shift towards respecting the importance of post-meal blood sugars and I no longer have that problem, though I still had a problem getting insulin, because with an intake of 12 grams of carbs a meal, I was getting only post meal values around 140 and the doctors would say, “140 is normal!” I could not get across that 140 after 12 grams was far from normal.

Finally I asked my doctor to give me a glucose test at the lab after lunch. I ate 1 little health food muffin, showed up at the lab an hour later and have had no further problems getting insulin prescribed!

Just last week I was complaining about my levels, but after talking to my diabetes educator and looking at my log, we noticed they are definitely improving. The problem is that I was ingesting too many carbs, but I think I finally made it work. I haven’t been over 100 when fasting during the last 5 days. And I haven’t seen my numbers go higher than 145.

I’m testing extra today, because I want to see what’s the best time to take my metformin. :slight_smile:

oh, now this sounds like an entre for a question I have… but first, what will you be looking for with regard to the testing results and taking the metaformin? My own question is whether metaformin is metabolized as you take it, or if it builds up in your system, or some combination of the two?

I want to know what’s the best time to take the metformin because I’m currently on 1000 mg a day, so I have to take it twice a day. My diabetes educator told me to check my blood sugars and see if the way I take the med changes. She suggested breakfast and dinner, and I’m taking it with lunch and dinner. I suppose it’s a simple matter of spacing up the medication, but I want to see the effect on my blood glucose levels.

I’m new to this blog group and I have T2 with insulin(not on pump). Having been really frustrated with my high BG’s 250+, I recenlty started a very low carb diet. My BG’s tend to spike with the smallest amount of carb intake. I do recognize loss of energy as low carbs. BG’s are beetween 100-150’s since new diet. Does anyone have any ideas of good snacks prior to working out? My GP doc is kind of clueless. I have found that your comments have helped me make adjustments. Thanks…Richard

Richard, I think you should take a look at Jenny’s website. She has a lot of information about carb intake. Every person is different, so you may want to talk to your doctor about this.

The best thing you can do before working out is checking your blood glucose levels. If they are on the lower side of the range, make sure you eat a little snack that will bring your levels up fast. If your levels are somewhat on the high side, you shouldn’t worry about snacks. Now, if your glucose levels are 300+, exercise isn’t such a good idea. Just make sure you talk to your doctor about all this.

Good luck!

This is a very interesting thread and gives an insight into not totally low carbing it. I know that low carbing gives me better bgs results but I also know that a high protein diet is hard on our kidneys, which are already compromised with this disease. Like David said moderation is key for diabetics and non diabetics. About 5 years ago I decided to go low carb, not so much for my bgs, but more to lose weight. I did lose weight and had good bloodsugars, but all of a sudden I could not stop urinating. It was constant and yes my bloodsugars were normal, and my urinalysis and blood work were normal, but I could not stop urinating. I was evaluated by my internist, endo and finally a urologist, where he prescribed for me I believe detrol and made me promise to come back for a cystoscope. Of course I promised and after talking to many nurses at my job they told me I could end up worse after the cystoscopy. The detrol worked after a few days and I never went back to the urologist.

What I am trying to say is that I believe my kidneys were compromised because of the high levels of protein I was eating and lowering my carbs. I don’t feel that a low carb diet is right for everyone and I don’t wish what I went through on to anyone.

Just my two cents. :slight_smile:


By “insulin” do you mean Lantus? If that’s the case, your insulin is NOT covering your meals, just your fasting state. If cutting the carbs while on Lantus still doesn’t get your blood sugar to normal (which it did NOT do for me until I was hypoing at night from too much Lantus), you might want to talk to your doctor about using a meal time insulin like Novolog.

As far as exercising on a low carb regimen, goes it’s something I did for a year. You will probably find your blood sugar dropping some when you do aerobic exercise, and you may feel low, but since you are so high to start with, you probably are not low at all. Test your blood sugar if you aren’t sure.

If it is a “false hypo” i.e. 80s or highter, you really just have to sit through it and let your body get used to feeling normal. After a few weeks of being at more normal blood sugars, you get used to it and you will feel a lot better. Then you will also feel sick as a dog when you are at your old “normal” high blood sugars!

So you probably don’t need to treat anything while exercising until you get into the 70s. Then one or two Sweetarts (the hard kind) is all it takes to kick you up 10 mg/dl or so. I used to take 1 hard Sweetart disc ever 15 minutes while on the treadmill.

Protein gives you long lasting energy, so there is no reason to load up with food right before exercising if you are eating a lot of protein.

FWIW, my son was on a top Div IAA college football team where the team nutritionist was high on low carb body building and did NOT encourage the team to carb load. Instead, he urged them to eat mostly meat and vegetables and avoid sugars and starch except right before the game. I was so pleased by this, as my son had made it on the team by doing all his strength training and body building on whey protein powder and peanut butter.

In fact, that might be a good approach for you. Whey protein powder (NOT soy!) and natural peanut butter without the hydrogentated oils. All that protein goes right to the muscles after you exercise.

You can also make homemade protein bars with whet protein powder and peanut butter. Roll them in nuts to keep them from sticking. No nasty additives or soy!


It doesn’t sound like you had kidney problems. Especially not if detrol helped. What is more likely is this:

  1. A very low carb diet flushes the glycogen out of your muscles and liver. Everyone carries a couple pounds of glycogen in their bodies. Glycogen breaks down into glucose and water, and for the first couple days on a very low carb diet you will lose a couple pounds of water as the glycogen stores are burned through.

This will stop UNLESS you see saw over the carb level where the glycogen refills and then burns off. For me that is around 75 grams a day. You’ll see fluctuations in weight of a pound or two when this happens.

If you have a tendency to urinary tract irritation–which I do, thanks to a severe infection years ago that left me with some scar tissue in the urinary tract–this water dumping can irritate the urinary tract and then you’ll start getting “nervous bladder” which makes you pee all the more. Detrol is prescribed for that. It won’t work if the urination is caused by kidney problems. It just tones down the cholinergic system for the overactive bladder and makes the muscles of the bladder more relaxed.

Protein is dangerous for people with severe kidney damage, but there’s increasing evidence that low carbing can reverse early kidney changes. I know two people who have done that.

I have had more than my share of UTI problems over the years–I was misdiagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis 21 years ago and my urinary tract can go into severe states which I agree I would not wish on ANYONE, ever.

I have had the kind of irritation you describe happen. For me it is avoidable as long as I stay under 60 or over about 85 grams a day. That avoids the loading and dumping of water in glycogen.

FWIW, 10 years after diagnosis and after 7 years of eating 60 grams a day or less, my kidneys still test out 100%. So for me there was no damage to kidneys from those years of low carb eating.

I suspect that I’d have had more kidney problems if I had been walking around at 250+ for those 7 years.

You are sooooo smart :slight_smile:

It really depends on the individual. Some like to take it with their 2 biggest meals. I’ve taken it at breakfast and at dinner since I started taking it 2.5 months ago and it has been working well for me. Post-prandial blood sugar level is always between 4-6mmol (that’s 72-108 for you) and never goes above 6 unless I’m stressed out about something (usually school!) or forget medication after breakfast or dinner. My fasting is usually in the 4’s range (mid 70’s).

About carbs, I say let your meter be your guide as to how much carbs you can have. Testing 2 hours after food has helped me eliminate difficult food from my diet and come up with a good meal plan

I can easily eat up to 60grams of carb per meal and still be in the blood sugar range I mentioned earlier but I choose not to because it’s not good for me in the long run. I average about 25-30g of carbs per meal and 10-15g of carbs per snack and it works out fine. It’s probably because as a student, I’m always on the run moving around the campus and doing things too, so I stay active even if I can’t exercise ‘formally’ on a daily basis.

Welcome!!! First off go see an Endocrinologist GP’s and PCP’s are not very good at all with diabetes. Second, depending on your workout and where your BG is prior to your work will determine how much you need to eat. I do long distance biking and use a pump so I have several more options than you do. What I do is carry a bag of Skittles primarily because I can eat a small amount to keep my BG in check when it gets or starts going low. One bag has like 54 grams of carbs but as I said before the small size is good because I may eat just 4 or 5 pieces and life is good. Just one option, but get a good endo and go from there.