Diabetes Self-Management Articles

These articles cover a wide range of subjects, from the most basic aspects of diabetes care to the nitty-gritty specifics.

Links not loading properly?

Some of our pages use Portable Document Format (PDF) files, which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download Acrobat Reader for free, visit www.adobe.com.

Sign up for our weekly e-mail newsletter and receive a FREE GIFT! Enter your e-mail below.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes

Links to help you learn more about diabetes.

Ask a diabetes expert
Other diabetes resources
Browse article topics


Insulin-to-Carbohydrate Ratio

A ratio that specifies the number of grams of carbohydrate covered by each unit of rapid- or short-acting insulin. This ratio serves as the foundation for adjusting premeal bolus insulin doses.

Counting grams of carbohydrate (or carbohydrate “choices”) and using an insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio allows a person to give himself just enough insulin to cover the carbohydrate he plans to eat. This means he doesn’t have to eat the exact same amount of carbohydrate for a given meal each day. Knowing how to count carbohydrate and use an insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio is valuable for tightly managing blood glucose levels, and it is essential for using an insulin pump effectively.

A fairly typical insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio is 1 unit of insulin for every 15 grams of carbohydrate. However, the ratio varies considerably from one person to another, and a person’s own ratio may change over time or even from meal to meal. For instance, a person may need 1 unit of insulin for every 10 grams of carbohydrate at breakfast but 1 unit for every 15 grams of carbohydrate in the evening. This can be due to factors such as how much insulin is already in a person’s system, how much physical activity he has done, and fluctuations in his hormone levels throughout the course of the day.

Your health-care team can help you determine your own insulin-to-carbohydrate ratios based on your blood glucose and meal records. Be sure to note the number of grams of carbohydrate in the meal, your blood glucose level before the meal, the number of units of insulin in the premeal bolus, and your blood glucose level 3–4 hours after the meal. It’s a good idea to gather 10–14 days of data before settling on a ratio.



More articles on Diabetes Definitions



Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



Know Thyself
Explaining diabetes to other people is tricky sometimes. It's a complicated thing to manage,... Blog

The Diabetian Lens
I have a friend who's a lawyer. We went to high school together. She lives in London now, where... Blog

Carb Counting
For what seems like ages, carbohydrate counting has been the standard way to calculate mealtime... Blog

I sometimes forget to take my medicines. What can I do? Get tip

Carbohydrate Restriction: An Option for Diabetes Management
Some people find that decreasing the amount of carbohydrate they eat can help with blood glucose control. Here’s what to know about this approach.

Insulin Patch Pumps: A New Tool for Type 2
Patch pumps are simpler to operate than traditional insulin pumps and may be a good option for some people with Type 2 diabetes who need insulin.

How Much Do You Know About Vitamins?
Learn what these micronutrients can and can’t do for you.

Complete table of contents
Subscription questions