Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Carb Counting

The other day, Ali over at Insulin and Iron wrote a blog about carbs. Specifically, how many carbs she typically eats in a day.

It got me thinking...and then it made me laugh.

I write a blog called Running on Carbs. I write a lot about running. I don't write much at all about carbs other than the odd vague mention like "I counted my carbs" or "I was low so I had some carbs". Perhaps I should give the Carbs part of my name a little more attention eh?

How many carbs do I consume in a day?

No idea.

I count them by the meal so I can take the correct amount of insulin but I don't count them by the day.

Luckily, I just finished a month of writing down all of my food, exercise, blood sugars and insulin in an attempt to fix some of the patterns I was noticing (lows during the night, highs in the afternoon etc).

So I pulled out my dog-eared log book and did some ol'fashioned math.

Turns out there are some patterns to my eating ummm patterns.

Breakfast in my world doesn't change much. Every morning, after my workout, I enjoy my delicious breakfast shake (nicknamed Gorp) lovingly made by Doug. And half a grapefruit. It is always 40 carbs.

Lunch is typically leftovers from dinner the night before. If there are no leftovers, I normally make a sandwich, toss yogurt into a container and grab a piece or two of fruit.

Looking back over the last month, there seem to be two carb options for lunch. Low carb which is about 15 grams or higher carb which tend to hover between 40-50 grams. Low carb lunches are typically salads with chicken. The carbs tend to either be beans in the salad or a piece of fruit on the side. Higher carb lunches tend to be more casserole-type meals with veggies, pasta or rice and protein.

Dinners have a similar range to lunch. Low carbs meals would typically be salmon with grilled veggies and higher carb meals tend to be pasta-based. They too range from a low of 10-15 to a high of 40-50.

So far, I range from 70 grams on a low day to 140 grams on a high day.

Then there are the mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks which are often mostly protein (almonds etc) but can just as easily have 20-30 grams in them (trail mix with dried fruit, banana, a few mini chocolate bars etc).

Add in the pre-workout carb boost if my blood sugar isn't in range and that could easily be another 20 carbs.

Oh, and the lows I might get which automatically require a minimum of 15 carbs to address.

So if you have a day when I eat a low amount of carbs but I need to eat before running and I have a mid-morning snack and a low in the afternoon - I could easily eat 130 grams of carbs. On a higher day - I could top 200 grams.

The question is: how am I doing?

I don't count calories. I don't count carbs. I don't worry about fat intake although I do try to keep the sodium down. I don't even know how many calories or carbs I should eat in a day. I just eat what I think is a pretty healthy diet full of fruit, veggies, calcium, iron and other good things. My weight is stable and my blood sugars behave as well as anyone with type 1 diabetes can expect. I have the energy I need to live an active life, run or swim for long periods of time and still stay up on Sunday nights to watch Downton Abbey.

Methinks I'm doing just fine.


  1. Oh my god...I may have just had a fan girl moment... CELINE MENTIONED ME!!! HAPPY DANCE!!!! Yes, this is how easily excited I

  2. It's got my thoughts turning too.
    I had a lot of dieticians tell me to eat a minimum of 130g carbs per day but I refused right from the start of my diagnosis because it just didn't work for me.

    So many factors too. interesting read!

  3. Interesting indeed. When I first met with my dietician she felt I should consume just over 300g of carbs per day due to my activity. It did not take me long to realize that this was not going to work for me and most days I am in the 70g to 100g or so range. That is without the treatment of lows however that can easily add more on. Like you I don't count calories or fat grams. Just got with what feels right for my body and what keeps my BS's reasonably stable.

  4. I think Ali's comment makes this post so worth it!

    My opinion is that if your blood sugar management is where you want it and your weight is where you want it, it's probably pretty normal to not give much thought to the actual numbers of carbs or calories.

    I always thought the "Running on Carbs" thing was about you exercising so much that you need many carbs. Like coach Marcey from TeamWILD has a shirt that says "I <3 Carbs!"