Q: How many grams of carbohydrates should a woman with diabetes have each day?
A: Generally speaking, being a woman means you likely need to eat fewer carbohydrates each day than a man. However, the amount of carbohydrates you need should depend on many factors, including your size, age, activity, desire to lose weight, and food preferences. There is not a one-size-fits-all amount of carbohydrates for all women. Everyone is different and has diverse nutritional needs.
Carb intake depends on:
Height and weight. Are you currently underweight, normal weight, or overweight?
Activity level. Are you sedentary, moderately active, or highly active?
Gender. Generally, men require more calories, and thus more carbohydrates, than women. Pregnant women and those who are breast-feeding require more as well.
Most adults need 6-11 servings of carbs per day, depending on the factors listed above.
The general starting point for a moderate-size woman is 45-60 grams of carbohydrates at each meal; for moderate-size men, 60-75 grams of carbs per meal. Most people with diabetes don't need to eat snacks. If you enjoy eating a snack in the late afternoon or before bed, use some of your allotted carb grams, say 15-30 grams, for a snack.
To work with a registered dietitian to learn more about your carbohydrate needs and controlling your diabetes, find a diabetes education program in your area by contacting the American Diabetes Association.
Jeannette Jordan, M.S., RD, CDE, is the American Dietetic Association's national spokesperson for African-American nutrition issues and oversees nutrition education at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Virginia Zamudio Lange, a member of Diabetic Living's editorial advisory board, is a founding partner of Alamo Diabetes Team, LLP.