Counting carbohydrate grams or servings

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. This is sometimes called the carbohydrate choice system. In this system, 15 grams equals 1 carbohydrate choice. Doctors often want some people who have diabetes to give 1 unit of fast-acting insulin for each 10 to 15 grams (or 1 choice) of carbohydrate in a meal. Women with gestational diabetes often give 1 unit of fast-acting insulin for each 10 grams of carbohydrate. On the carbohydrate choice system, instead of 45 grams of carbohydrate at breakfast, you would count 3 carbohydrate choices.

Last Updated: July 22, 2009

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