Diabetes and Carbohydrates: What’s The Deal?


Low carb, no carb, counting carbs and just eat quality carbs; these are common debates about how a diabetic should eat, and everyone has an opinion. This is not a new debate amongst health professionals. As always, if you want a quick summary of all the evidence: there is no one right way, rather it should be individualised to each and every diabetic.

Diabetes and Carbohydrates?

The definition in itself of what a low carb diet is sparks debate, with the amount ranging from 20-130g of carbs per day! This shows how misleading some of the ‘evidence’ can be, with different definitions of low carb across the different studies.

One of the biggest issues with a low carb diet is how to translate the diet into actual foods. Particularly for diabetics who live with other people, this can result in major changes to dietary intake, and can remove some of the enjoyment from food, or make it difficult for others in the family. In short, it is usually unsustainable. It’s also important for a diabetic on insulin to never suddenly change their usual carbohydrate intake, as the consequences can be life threatening.

The recommendation for diabetics is to eat carbohydrates of a good quality, regularly throughout the day. The amount that is needed depends on a number of factors, and is worked out on an individual basis by an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

What to Remember

It’s important to remember that carbohydrates are essential in a healthy diet, even for diabetics. By cutting out carbohydrate containing foods, quite often meat intake increases, which can have health consequences in itself. Not to mention symptoms of headache, nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, bad breath, upset stomach, nausea, frequent urination, and lack of mental clarity from your body going into ketosis when you completely cut out carbohydrates.

If you, or someone you know has diabetes it cannot be stressed enough how important it is that you see a dietitian and get some help sorting through all the information that is out there! Ask your GP for a referral to see a dietitian and you will even get money back from Medicare – win win!!