How Many Carbs to Eat a Day

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.