Diabetes and Counting Calories

Counting calories can help you maintain or lose weight
Counting calories can help you maintain or lose weight

Calories are units of energy contained within the food you eat. People with diabetes can make a positive difference to their health by learning to count calories, whether or not the goal of the individual is to lose weight.

This feature runs through crucial steps in learning to count calories as a diabetic.

How many daily calories do you need to eat to lose or maintain a healthy weight?

If you are diabetic, this information should be available from your doctor or dietician. Another method is to calculate 16 calories per pound of body weight, but this is approximate and should only be used as a guide.

If you need to lose weight, cut down on calories. For many people with type 2 diabetes, weight loss is the goal. Eating fewer calories can help diabetics to lose weight in stable way.

Diet Plate

Use a diet plate, or the information from a diet plate, to help count calories. Knowing and understanding the different food groups and how each individual food and drink affects your blood glucose level is the key to successful diabetes management and weight loss. 

Carbohydrate calories

Calories from carbohydrates are particularly important. Carbs have an instant effect on blood sugar, and this can have serious consequences for diabetes management.

Be aware of what you eat, particularly portion sizes. Food labels are now detailed guides of how the contents will affect you. However, be aware that often calories listed on labels are for a serving only.

Portion size makes a radical difference to how your body processes food and the influence on blood sugar.

  • Consider using an online health system to help you with your diet. Diabetes.co.uk host MyLifestyle, available free at: myLifestyle

Remember, eating healthily should be combined with regular exercise and (if necessary) appropriate medication to manage diabetes successfully.

What the community is saying about counting calories

  • Ardbeg: Personally I've never counted carbs - just eaten "sensible" portion sizes and tried to stick to "compliant" foodstuffs wherever possible.
  • Lovinglife: I know this has been said over and over on here but I'm going to say it again anyway - we are all different and what is ok for one may not be for someone else - test test test and eat to your meter is the key
  • Anniep: Another thing: never assume that things will be the same forever, retest occasionally; this month this site had encouraged me to retest alcohol. When I was first diagnosed as having impaired glucose tolerance, I tested some alcohol and it raised my BG for days so I thought I couldn't drink alcohol at all. I have now been testing different drinks and found that where previously I had lumped all wine together and thought I couldn't drink any. I have now realised that though I can't drink white wine or fortified wines, I can (like many people) have a glass or two of red wine with no damage to my BG - Hallelujah several years of abstinence is now over.
  • Sugarless sue : For a diabetic the carbs are more important than the calories. If you eat a lowish carb diet then you will lose weight as well. You have made a good start by cutting out the 'empty' carbs, i.e. the starchy carbs in bread, potatoes, pasta and rice and can get your 'good' carbs from vegetables and fruit. The key is to test before and two hours after meals to see how the meal has affected your blood sugars and also to reduce the portion sizes of food on your plate gradually.
  • Synonym: In addition I wouldn't bother with counting anything, just portion control and completely cutting out the starchy carbs and just getting your carbs from your fruit and veg. Eat to your meter and you can't go far wrong.
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