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Apples and grains on 3 seperate strings

What is Carbohydrate Counting?

Carbohydrate counting is a system that is often used to help people with diabetes monitor their carbohydrate intake so that they can give themselves the correct amount of insulin or to help their oral medications work to their best efficiency. When you were first diagnosed, hopefully your physician referred you to a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) to help you understand carbohydrate counting.

Why count carbs?

Each person has individual carbohydrate needs. An active teenager needs more calories and carbohydrates than a more sedentary adult. Your doctor should have given you a goal of carbohydrate exchanges per meal or per day to help guide your choices and make your insulin or medication as effective as possible.

Carbohydrates are foods that contain glucose. Glucose is important, as it is the primary energy source for our brain, as well as other bodily functions. When trying to discern how many carbohydrates are in a food, first check the serving size, then the total carbohydrates. The total carbohydrate number includes grams of sugar, added sugar, and fiber as well. If you plan to eat more or less than the stated serving size, you should adjust the amount of carbohydrates accordingly.

But what if you don’t have a nutrition label to read? Most produce does not have a label. Keep this easy-to-read list of common carbohydrates handy any time you are wondering about the content of your food! Some may vary depending on size and preparation of food.

How many carbs are there in different types of food?

Starchy vegetables

  • 1 medium potato = 51g carbohydrates
  • ½ cup mashed sweet potatoes = 32g carbohydrate
  • 1 ear of corn = 38g carbohydrate


  • 1 medium apple = 25g carbohydrate
  • 1 medium banana = 27g carbohydrate
  • 1 medium pear = 25g carbohydrate
  • 1 cup strawberries = 11g carbohydrate
  • ½ cup blueberries = 10g carbohydrate
  • ½ cup blackberries = 9g carbohydrate
  • 1 medium orange = 19g carbohydrate
  • ½ cup juice = 15g carbohydrate


  • 8oz milk = 15g carbohydrate
  • 6oz light yogurt = 15g carbohydrate
  • 8oz unsweetened almond milk = 6g carbohydrate

Grain-based carbohydrates

  • ¾ cup Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® cereal = 27g carbohydrate
  • ¼ cup dry brown rice = 38g carbohydrate
  • ¼ cup dry white rice = 35g carbohydrate
  • 1 cup white pasta = 40g carbohydrate
  • 2 oz dry whole wheat pasta = 41g carbohydrate
  • 1 piece whole grain bread = 20g carbohydrate
  • 1 slice white bread = 20g carbohydrate
  • 1 whole bagel = 56g carbohydrate


  • 1/3 cup black beans = 15g carbohydrate
  • ½ cup cooked peas = 12.5g carbohydrate

Sweets and goodies

  • 1/12 of cake = 36g carbohydrate
  • One donut = 24g carbohydrate
  • ½ cup ice cream = 30g carbohydrate
  • Milky Way® fun size candy = 24g carbohydrate

Again, this is not an all-inclusive list, but has many popular carbohydrate options and servings. If you have any specific questions or concerns about carbohydrate counting, be sure to speak with your physician, registered dietitian, or certified diabetes educator.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Netzer, Corrine T. The Complete Book of Food Counts. Random House, Inc. New York. 2012.


  • Samuel Taylor moderator
    8 months ago

    Hey Riddler!

    A thought for food! Quinoa has about the same carb content as white and brown rice (a little bit less per 1/2 cup), however it has more dietary fiber and almost double the protein.

    It’s always my go to grain!

    Samuel, Team

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    8 months ago

    I’ve heard of it but never gave it a tryout yet. Maybe sometime. I don’t do that much cooking any more except for on the grill.

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    8 months ago

    Will check into that and see what can find and try out.

  • Samuel Taylor moderator
    8 months ago

    Though I’d add, since you don’t do too much cooking. Seed of Change makes pre-cooked packages of Quinoa, Brown Rice and a Mixture of the two with garlic. (: I’m not sure if you’re familiar, but I hope that helps!

    -Samuel, Team

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    8 months ago

    Katie Gutwald, I’ll check into that then. As I mentioned I don’t do much cooking anymore at home. But sometimes places I go do have things like that and if I see it I’ll grab some and give it a go.

    Usually what I cook at home is some mixed vegetables out of can, those small white potatoes etc to go with something I’ve grilled.

    I also like the precooked rice. You can find them in a lot of the Asian Grocery stores. Both brown and white rice. It’s a toss up as to which I’ll grab but either way after nuking it I’ll measure out 1/3 cp of it to put on the plate and rest goes into a small bowl to put into fridge to use later and also will measure out a 1/3 cp of it each time.

    I like those due to no issues in cooking. Already cooked, all have to do is warm them up. Otherwise with a rice cooker sometimes it’s hard to come out just right. Plus the hassle of it at times.

    But if you run across those precooked bowls grab a couple of each and give them a shot and see what you think of them. As I mentioned, check the Asian Grocery stores especially the Korean ones.

    Today after our date day lunch we’re going to one and pick up some precut pieces of octopus, a few of those bowls of rice, and some rice slivers that are used in special soups or can be added to the ramen you cook if desired.

    I’m going to try and post a link to a site for some recipes of the Korean meals that some might like to try. To be honest I don’t know what the carbs, etc are in them. Don’t know if they list so would probably be up to the user to figure it out unless some of you would like to check some of those out and hazard a guess at them. But I think that those here who love to cook will like that site. But not posting in this section. Will post in the recipes side of the house. You and the other mods can take a look at it and see if okay for it to go.

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    8 months ago

    Definitely worth checking out. By far my favorite grain! Have a great day! Katie Gutwald RD community moderator

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    8 months ago

    Wow. The carbs have increased from what the list I had been given back in 2012 when first diagnosed. I showed 1/3 cup of white rice as 15 carbs. Looks like I might need to get me a new list someplace to go by now at this rate. Ouch.

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    8 months ago

    Hey Riddler,
    Just remember that it depends on whether or not the rice is cooked and also if it is flavored. Your best bet is to read your package labels!!!
    Thanks for commenting,
    Katie Gutwald RD Community Moderator

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    8 months ago

    Very true. Mine was for cooked rice etc. I’ve been measuring 1/3 cups of white rice and also same with potato salad as well plus the mixed vegetables. Been trying to keep a ver7 tight control on the measuring and counting of carbs. Hard to do at times for when we’re out but I do very well at home. The lists I was given was for all cooked products and when there’s things not on list I pay close attention to the packages and wrappers to see what the count is on the item and go from there. All fun isn’t it?

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