Macronutrients & Diabetes

Macronutrients & Diabetes

Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients, Micronutrients, and Metabolism

The macronutrients referred to in human diets are the three food groups that provide us with energy, namely: carbohydrates, fat and protein. The three major nutrients are more than simply providers of fuel for our bodies.

Fats and protein are both vital for building cells and helping the cells carry out their duties. Each of the macronutrients are versatile allowing the body to break them down into a number of uses.

Carbohydrate can be stored as fat and fat and protein can both be converted into glucose for example.

Why Carbohydrates Are So Important in Diabetes

Wholegrain carbohydrates

Wholegrain carbohydrates

Counting carbs at meals and snack time is one method used to control blood sugar.

Carbohydrates are sugar-based molecules found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. The make up about 45% to 65% of calories in a healthy diet (the exact percentage is hotly debated); the rest come from fat and protein.

You’ll find carbohydrates in the healthiest foods you eat, and in the least healthy. Check the food label to find out exactly how much is in your favorite foods.

How you eat can affect Blood Sugar

Diabetes Diet: 7 Day Well-Balanced Diabetes Diet Meal Plan At 1600 Calorie Level-Choose Healthy Foods And Understand How Different Foods And The Amounts Affect Your Blood Sugar

Choosing the right kind of carbohydrates and spacing them out evenly throughout the day can keep blood sugar from rising too high, too fast (90% of the carbohydrate calories you digest end up as glucose, so they have a much bigger impact on blood sugar than fat or protein).

“The goal … is to take in enough carbohydrates to nourish ourselves, but never so much that it causes high blood sugars,” says Linda Sartor, a diabetes nutrition specialist at the Penn Rodebaugh Diabetes Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Up until about the mid-1990s experts believed that people with diabetes should never eat foods that contain so-called “simple” sugars—those found in cakes and candy—and instead eat “complex” carbohydrates, or those with longer chains of sugar molecules such as potatoes, fruit, vegetables, and grains.

We now know that all carbohydrates can cause a rise in blood sugar. Pasta and potatoes, for example, may cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, as can pastries (although other beneficial ingredients in food, such as fiber, cause blood sugar to rise more slowly).

Some carbs are better than others

The goal is now to maximize intake of the good stuff—vitamins, minerals, and fiber—and minimize carbohydrates that boost blood sugar too much, offer few nutritional benefits, or are packed with fat and calories.

A dietitian or diabetes educator will help you develop a meal plan to get a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, and an appropriate amount of calories. They’ll teach you how to manage carbohydrate intake, usually by carbohydrate counting, but sometimes using the exchange diet, the plate method, the modified food guide, or other meal plans.

You’ll need to fine-tune your meal plan by testing blood sugar before and after meals. Specific foods that cause blood sugar to rise too high can vary from person to person (for example, you may find you can only have small portions of orange juice or pasta due to a big rise in blood sugar).

Carbohydrates generally have their peak effect on blood sugar about an hour to two hours after they are eaten, and are gone within three hours.

Carbohydrate-Counting for People with Diabetes

how to carb poster

http://Diabetes how to Carb Poster

Step 1:Develop a meal plan

Develop a meal plan to get a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, and an appropriate amount of calories.

Step 2: Know your Carbohydrate

Most of the carbohydrates we eat come from three food groups: starch, fruit and milk. Vegetables also contain some carbohydrates, but foods in the meat and fat groups contain very little carbohydrates.  To make things easy, many people begin carbohydrate counting by rounding the carbohydrate values of milk up to 15.

In other words, one serving of starch, fruit or milk all contain 15 grams of carbohydrates or one carbohydrate serving.

Three servings of vegetable also contain 15 grams. One or two servings of vegetables do not need to be counted.

Each meal and snack will contain a total number of grams of carbohydrates  It is more important to know your carbohydrate allowance for each meal and snack than it is to know your total for the day. The amount of carbohydrates eaten at each meal should remain consistent (unless you learn to adjust your insulin for a change in the amount of carbohydrates eaten)

Fortunately there are many resources available that can help you with carb counting see a few listed below:

1.http://Complete Guide to Carb Counting: How to Take the Mystery Out of Carb Counting and Improve Your Blood Glucose Control

2.http://ADA Complete Guide to Carb Counting

3.http://The Diabetes Counter, 5th Edition

4.http://Carbs & Cals & Protein & Fat Flashcards: 54 Flashcards for Counting Carbohydrate, Calories, Protein, Fat & Fibre by Chris Cheyette, Yello Balolia (2013) Cards

For more great Health and Nutrition Tips refer to the

How to Reduce Carbohydrate Intake


Glycemic Index Diet (GI Diet) and Diabetes


http://The Glycemic Load Diabetes Solution: Six Steps to Optimal Control of Your Adult-Onset (Type 2) Diabetes

A low Glycemic index diet can be particularly effective for people with diabetes if portion control is also applied to those foods with higher carbohydrate content.

This is the basis of working out a food’s glycemic load.

Low GI diets are diets which incorporate foods which are more slowly converted into energy by the body.

It is noted that low GI diets can be a suitable option for people with diabetes as they can help to make blood glucose levels more stable than diets based around high GI foods.

What does Low and High GI mean?

The Glycemic Index ranks food depending on the rate at which the body breaks it down to form glucose.

High GI foods are those that are quickly broken down into glucose. Typical examples of high GI foods include white bread, sweetened drinks, biscuits, potatoes and oranges.

Low GI foods are those that are broken down more slowly by the body. Typical examples of low GI foods include whole grain bread, milk, beans, leafy vegetables and berries.

What do Low GI foods do in relation to Diabetes?

As low GI foods tend to break down more slowly, they are less likely to cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels compared to high GI foods and therefore they are a better option for keeping stable blood glucose levels.

Favouring low GI foods over high GI foods leaves you feeling more satisfied over a longer period of time, and less likely to feel hungry before the next meal.

What do High GI foods do in relation to Diabetes?

High GI foods break down very quickly causing blood glucose levels to rise sharply. People with diabetes refer to sharp rises in blood sugar levels as ‘spikes’ in blood sugar.

Furthermore, for those who produce their own insulin, high GI foods can force the body to try to produce a surge of insulin to counteract the quick acting carbohydrates and a common consequence of this is a feeling of hunger within 2 to 3 hours, which can leave the dieter craving more food.

For people with diabetes, this can be particularly dangerous as the ability of the body to control blood glucose levels is reduced or non-existent.

For this reason, people with diabetes have to be careful when it comes to eating high GI foods.

9 Nutrition Label Mistakes Most Of Us Make


Glycemic Index Range

GI & GL Counter

People trying to lose weight are advised to avoid the high GI foods, eat the intermediate foods sporadically, and eat as much of the low index foods as they want.

Should people with Diabetes eat a Glycaemic Index Diet?

For people with diabetes striving to keep their blood sugar stable, a GI diet can make all the difference. However, there is a paradox, many foods with a low GI are relatively high in fat.

As one of the principal aims of people with type 2 diabetes is often to lose weight, some foods are better avoided.

For instance, a food such as cheese pizza has a low GI but would certainly be best avoided by people with diabetes who have heart disease.

Fig 1: HbA1c & Glucose Blood Levels
Low Intermediate High
55 or less 55 to 70 70 or higher

Is there any advice about the Glycaemic Index Diet?

The general advice for people with diabetes is to consider the Glycaemic index as a reference only, yet not to regard it as a weight loss diet.

As with all dietary changes, people with diabetes should discuss everything with their healthcare  professionals.

So, do I just need to consider the GI Index of each Food?

No, because low GI may be very high in fat.

Furthermore, different factors may affect the GI Index of foods, including the other foods it is eaten alongside and how it is made.

Furthermore, it is important to consider glycaemic load, which is derived from multiplying GI Index of each food with the total carbohydrate content of a serving.

This therefore illustrates how quickly the food breaks down into sugar, and also how much is contained in each serving.

GI Index and Carbohydrates

By considering the glycemic load of a food, a clearer picture can emerge for the purposes of a diabetes diet. For instance, foods with high GI and low carbs won’t cause nearly such a dramatic increase in blood glucose levels as those foods with a higher carbohydrate content.

Also be aware that GI isn’t always indexed using glucose, or using 100 as the index. Some, for instance, are based on white bread as the highest GI food, to which they attribute a GI rating of 140.

To get a good understanding of  the GI diet there are many resources available see below some consumer recommended:

1.http://The Glycemic-Load Diet: A powerful new program for losing weight and reversing insulin resistance

2. http://The Glycemic-Load Diet Cookbook: 150 Recipes to Help You Lose Weight and Reverse Insulin Resistance

3.http://The G.I. Handbook: How the Glycemic Index Works

For more great Health and Nutrition Tips refer to the website


3 Vegetables Made Healthier When Cooked


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