Hidden Carbs: Diabetes Questions & Answers

Q: I have type 1 diabetes[1] and eat a whole-food, plant-based diet[2]. It surprises me to see my blood sugar spike[3] when I have low-carb foods[4] such as zucchini or cashews. What causes this to happen?

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A: Carbohydrates can be sneaky. They find their way into our diets unexpectedly. Most vegetables, for example, are low in carbs but not carb-free. Salad veggies average about 5 grams per cup, and that doesn’t include add-ons like dressings and croutons. Breading on meats and vegetables also add carbs, as do most sauces and condiments. Even a palm-sized portion of nuts can contain 5 to 10 grams of carbohydrate. All of these “hidden” carbs can add up. It is important to additionally note that carbohydrate is not the only thing in our food that raises blood sugar. Protein can also cause the blood sugar to rise — particularly when consumed as part of a low-carb diet. Research has shown that approximately half of the protein in a very-low-carb meal can eventually turn into glucose, so if you choose to go low-carb, it may be necessary to start considering protein grams as well.

Want to learn more about counting carbohydrate? Read “Counting Carbohydrates Like a Pro”[6] and “Getting Started With Carb Counting.”[7]

  1. type 1 diabetes: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/diabetes-resources/definitions/type-1-diabetes/
  2. plant-based diet: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/healthy-living/nutrition-exercise/vegetarian-vegan-type-1-diabetes/
  3. blood sugar spike: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/blood-glucose-management/manage-high-blood-glucose/
  4. low-carb foods: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/low-carb-myths-and-facts/
  5. sign up for our free newsletter: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/newsletter/
  6. “Counting Carbohydrates Like a Pro”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/nutrition-exercise/meal-planning/counting-carbohydrates-like-a-pro/
  7. “Getting Started With Carb Counting.”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/healthy-living/nutrition-exercise/getting-started-with-carb-counting/

Source URL: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/education/hidden-carbs-diabetes-questions-answers/

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