Jun 21, 2021

What is a Carbohydrate?

Calories from foods are derived from three macro-nutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Each nutrient affects glucose differently, but carbohydrates have the greatest impact.  Within minutes of eating carbohydrates, sugars and starches are broken down into glucose, and glucose levels start to rise. Insulin helps the body absorb glucose and use it for energy. Below is a short list of common foods that contain carbohydrates:

carbohydrates and diabetes

Carbohydrate Counting

Carbohydrate counting is a method of estimating the number of carbohydrates in food. When combined with insulin pump therapy, carbohydrate counting offers more flexibility with food choices and meal timing by matching the insulin more precisely with carbohydrate intake.

Estimating Carbohydrates

It is easy to under or overestimate the number of carbohydrates you are eating. Countless resources are available to help you estimate carbohydrates in food. Some options are listed below:


  • Printed and online resources in the form of books, cookbooks, handouts, restaurant guides etc.
  • Software applications for your mobile device
  • Nutrition Facts Label
Carbohydrate Tip

Weighing and Measuring Food

Weighing and measuring the food you eat can help keep your carbohydrate counting accurate. Using Measuring utensils helps “train the eye” to better estimate portions.


  • Use a dry measuring cup for measuring solid foods. The food should be level with the top of the cup.
  • Use a liquid measuring cup for measuring liquids. The liquid should be level with the measurement line.
  • Use a kitchen scale for food that will not easily fit into measuring cups, like whole fruit or bread.

Download our free carbohydrate reference guide.