Is your family, friends, health professionals, or fellow internet dwellers throwing the word “carbohydrates” at you left and right assuming you know what it means? I have noticed that since I am so close to food in my job I sometimes skip ahead without giving my clients (or friends and family) the real scoop on what carbohydrates even are. I find it most important for people that are experiencing blood sugar issues to know about carbohydrates so they can better understand what is going on in their bodies whether it is high blood sugars such as with pre-diabetes or diabetes or low blood sugars. Here is a post that breaks it down!

Your plate should look like this!

All of our food is coming from three main parts:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrate

These are called macronutrients. For example milk is made up of all three: fat (unless skim milk), protein, and carbs. Micronutrients include the vitamins and minerals that are also found in food, but let’s save that for another day. The focus almost always seems to be on carbohydrates so let’s take a look.

Healthy Grains

In basic terms some people classify carbohydrates as the “sugar” foods. When reading a nutrition label, words ending in –ose contains some form of sugar. To know all of the sugars that are in that product you must look at TOTAL CARBOHYDRATES.  This will include:

Table sugar:

White sugar, brown sugar, and sugar in the raw etc. all have carbohydrates. Agave and honey also have carbohydrates.

table sugar

Fruit: Fruit has fruct-OSE. This is fruit sugar. It is part of a healthy diet, but it does contain sugar.

Beautiful Blackberries

Milk: Milk and milk products have lact-OSE. This is milk sugar, again still a part of a healthy diet. This will be things like milk or yogurt. Soy milk and almond milk also have some carbohydrates, especially if it is flavored.

carbohydrates in milk


Think of these as sugar linked together which will be broken down to the basic form of sugar in the body, again still a part of a healthy diet! The key is the amount per meal and how frequently you are having these, as many people tend to over eat this group

starch carbohydrates sweet potatoes

  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Corn
  • Green Peas
  • Beans (kidney, black, white, pinto, navy, lima)
  • Sweets

Remember carbohydrates are not BAD foods. In fact we NEED carbohydrates to fuel our brain. This is our preferred energy source for our bodies and without it we can experience:

  • Lack of energy
  • Food cravings
  • Loss of memory
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Moodiness
  • Hunger
  • Lack of satiety

Remember carbohydrates are not the only source of food we need. It is important to combine these carbohydrates with protein and fat for a balanced meal and satiety. It is important not to cut out carbohydrates and we actually recommend they make up about 45-65% of your calories from food.  That would mean for a 2,000 calorie meal plan you would need 225-325g of carbs a day.

How many grams of carbs does your body need?  What times of day do you need these and what should they be paired with?  For more information on how many carbohydrates your body needs, when to eat them and with what you should pair them with schedule an appointment with your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or give us a call at 301-474-2499.

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Dana uses her advanced training in functional nutrition and food sensitivities to help her clients love and trust food again as they heal from years of painful symptoms that have dominated their lives. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide.

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