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Type 2 Diabetes and Carbohydrates

By Mary Pickett, M.D.
Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School
Mary Pickett, M.D.

Mary Pickett, M.D., is a lecturer for Harvard Medical School and an assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR. At OHSU, she practices general internal medicine and teaches medical residents and students.


I am a 64–year-old woman with type 2 diabetes. How many carbohydrates should I eat each day?


Carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, starches, grains, low-fat milk and baked items.

Your carbs should be proportional to the number of calories you take in. This creates a nutritionally balanced diet.

For most diabetics, daily calories should be somewhere between 1,600 and 2,800 per day. The calorie intake at the lower end of this range is for people who are overweight.

Out of these total calories, 45% to 65% should be carbohydrate calories. And at least half of your carbs should come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk. Remember that in addition to providing healthy carbs, fruits and vegetables contribute fiber to your diet.

Aim for two to four servings of fruit, and three to five servings of vegetables per day. This breaks down an ideal diet into these parts:

  • Carbohydrates: 45% to 65% of calories

  • Protein: 15% to 20% of calories

  • Fats: 25% to 40% of calories

Make monounsaturated fats the main type of fat in your diet. These are found in olive and canola oil. They help raise your "good" cholesterol (HDL) to healthy levels. Take in no more than 10% of polyunsaturated fats. Minimize saturated fats and trans fats. They are found in meats and high-fat dairy products, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, and processed, packaged and fried foods.

Some people with diabetes who take insulin use a technique called "carb counting." They calculate the amount of "quickly digested carbs" they expect to eat in a meal. This allows them to adjust the insulin dose they will need. If you are interested in learning carb counting, talk to a dietician or nutrition specialist.

Related Video: Choosing Higher Quality Carbohydrates with Diabetes

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Watch Choosing Higher Quality Carbohydrates with Diabetes.

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Indications and Usage for Lantus® (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection)

Prescription Lantus® is a long-acting insulin used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes and adults and children (6 years and older) with type 1 diabetes for the control of high blood sugar. It should be taken once a day at the same time each day to lower blood glucose.

Do not use Lantus® to treat diabetic ketoacidosis.

Important Safety Information for Lantus® (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection)

Do not take Lantus® if you are allergic to insulin or any of the inactive ingredients in Lantus®.

You must test your blood sugar levels while using insulin, such as Lantus®. Do not make any changes to your dose or type of insulin without talking to your healthcare provider. Any change of insulin should be made cautiously and only under medical supervision.

Do NOT dilute or mix Lantus® with any other insulin or solution. It will not work as intended and you may lose blood sugar control, which could be serious. Lantus® must only be used if the solution is clear and colorless with no particles visible. Do not share needles, insulin pens or syringes with others.

The most common side effect of insulin, including Lantus®, is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which may be serious. Some people may experience symptoms such as shaking, sweating, fast heartbeat, and blurred vision. Severe hypoglycemia may be serious and life threatening. It may cause harm to your heart or brain. Other possible side effects may include injection site reactions, including changes in fat tissue at the injection site, and allergic reactions, including itching and rash. In rare cases, some allergic reactions may be life threatening.

Tell your doctor about other medicines and supplements you are taking because they can change the way insulin works. Before starting Lantus®, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions including if you have liver or kidney problems, are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding or planning to breast-feed.

Lantus® SoloSTAR® is a disposable prefilled insulin pen. Please talk to your healthcare provider about proper injection technique and follow instructions in the Instruction Leaflet that accompanies the pen.

Please click here or the link below for the full prescribing information for Lantus®

US.GLA.13.12.053 © 2014 sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC, A SANOFI COMPANY

Last Annual Review Date: March 1, 2012 Copyright: 2013 Harvard University. All rights reserved. Content Licensing by Belvoir Media Group

Reference: Diabetes section on Better Medicine

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