Carbohydrate Gram Counting at the Hospital
Carbohydrate gram counting is a way to plan your meals to help control your blood sugar. The total grams
you eat at a meal will determine the dose of insulin you receive.
Carbohydrate gram counting is done here to keep your blood sugars in goal range. You do not have to do
carbohydrate gram counting at home. If you would like to do it at home, please tell your nurse.
Foods That Have Carbohydrates (“carbs”)
ξ Grain products such as breads, rice, pasta, cereals
ξ Legumes such as kidney beans, split peas, lentils
ξ Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green peas, and winter squash
ξ Fruit and fruit juices
ξ Milk and yogurt
ξ Items that use refined sugar such as regular soda, corn syrup, jelly, candies, sweets, and desserts.
Your daily need for carbohydrates is based on your gender, height, weight, and how active you are. The
number of grams you need in a day may differ from someone else with diabetes. The American Diabetes
Association suggests eating at least 130 grams of carbohydrate per day.
The diabetes meal plan at UW Health Hospitals includes 45-60 grams of carbohydrate at each meal for
women and 60-75 grams for men.
Carbohydrate Effects Blood Sugar Levels
ξ Carbohydrate, when compared to protein and fat, has the greatest effect on blood sugar levels.
ξ 90-100% of carbohydrate enters the blood stream as sugar 20-90 minutes after eating.
ξ As a general rule, 1 gram of carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels 3-4 mg/dL.
STEP 1: To begin, you have to know how much insulin is needed to cover the amount of carbs you eat.
This is called the insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio (ICR). Your health care team will decide which ratio
is best for you.
Your ICR: 1 unit insulin for every _____ grams of carbohydrate.
STEP 2: Order your meal. To help you figure out how many carbs are in your meals, use the
carbohydrate counting guide that will be given to you. Your nurse, dietitian and food service staff can
help you as needed. Your meal tray will arrive with a tray ticket that shows the total carbs for the meal
you ordered. The meal ticket below is a sample of what you will see on your meal tray.
STEP 3: Call your nurse after you finish eating. We will count and total the grams of carb you ate. Your
ICR will be used to determine the amount of insulin you need for that meal. Your nurse will then give you
If you have any questions, let your nurse know. If you would like to do carbohydrate counting at home,
please tell your nurse.
1 Grilled Chix Sandwich Each (Carb 36 gm)
1 Lettuce Leaf for Hot Sandwich
1 Sliced Tomato for Hot Sandwich (Carb 1 gm)
1 FF Mayonnaise 1 pkt (Carb 2 gm)
1 Mustard Each
1 Ranch FF Dressing Each (Carb 4 gm)
1 Creamer Each
1 Splenda Each (Carb 1 gm)
1 Tossed Salad Each (Carb 4 gm)
1 Apple Each (Carb 28 gm)
1 Reg Coffee 6 ozl
Current Meal: (Carb 76 gm)
Diet Order: DMM
Delivery Time: Clerk: yhz
Print Date/Time: 7/2/2015 10:23
Grams will be listed for
each food item on your
Total grams for the meal
are also listed.
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone
numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital
(AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have any
questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not medical advice.
This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health needs are different,
you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency,
please call 911. Copyright © 11/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by
the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department of Nursing. HF#527