Counting carbs. sugars or calories?

I've been type 1 for 19 years. I was wondering what others it better to count carbs, sugars or calories to lose weight and to lower blood sugars?

To lower blood sugars you are definitely going to have to be counting carbs.  If you are trying to lose weight you will also need to count calories though.  Some things that are low carb have huge fat content and will then rack up on the calories.  In order to lose weight you need to consume less calories than you burn off. 

I don't believe there is a best -  you definitely have to count carbs for insulin ratios.  The less insulin you are taking, the less fat you are going to store.  You don't have to cut the carbs out completely - no one can- you wouldn't eat anything - but if you reduce the carbs and have less insulin, you will start to cut weight.  You do have to exercise though, it's never healthy to drop weight without exercise.  As far as sugars go, I just try to avoid anything with added sugar in it.  You'd be amazed how much sugar is added to foods.   The prob is that we are all on the go and need a quick meal here and there or are too tired to cook dinner and we just grab something.  Those quick meals are usually the worst.     So for me it's a combination of them all, just have to be smart about food choices.  Avoid added sugar, go more natural - will help all the way around! 

As far as blood sugar, you definitely need to count carbs!  For weight loss I focus on calories and try to watch my fat intake.  What works for me may not work for others.

I would agree with other posters that in order to tightly control blood sugars, a person needs to count carbs pretty well.

As for losing weight, probably the most accepted theory in our society is that weight gain is an input-output imbalance--too much input (calories) and not enough output (exercise) leads to weight gain.

Another theory argues that it's not necessarily just the quantity of calories that matter--it's the kind of calories, with refined carbohydrates being the worst. If you think about what our bodies, as Type I diabetics, struggle most to process, it's not hard to imagine that even for nondiabetics slamming a 32-ounce Jamba Juice puts major stress on the body to process all those refined carbohydrates, increasing insulin production and thus the storage of fat. Which increases insulin insensitivity, which forces the body to deliver more insulin, and so on. So it goes for many Type II's.

Anyway not to go on, but if you're interested I highly recommend the book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes.  The author surveys the history behind our current nutritional guidelines (which, for example, consider carbs good and fat bad) and the science behind popular diabetes and weight gain theories. The idea I am trying to describe is referred to as "metabolic syndrome"or I think in the book also "syndrome X."

btw, I have no association whatsoever with author or publisher.



For the past 15 months I've been training intensely to walk across the Sahara in the Marathon des Sables. In order to complete this and still be alive, I've had to learn a lot about food and nutrition.

One of the fascinating things that I've learned is that there are only 4 types of food that contain calories. Of course calories are simply energy that the body can use to do stuff. And as somebody else has said, losing weight means burning up more calories than you consume. It is simple mathematics as far as that is concerned.

The only 4 food types that contain calories are:
1/ carbohydrates - 4 calories / gram
2/ protien - 4 calories / gram
3/ alcohol - 7 calories / gram ( which is why drinking alcohol is considered fattening )
4/ fats and oils - 9 calories / gram

From this it is easy to see that staying away from excessive amounts of fats, oils and alcohol is a great start to losing weight. Add to this a regular amount of physical exercise and you're well on your way to losing weight.

Of course being diabetic means that you must strictly have the required amounts of carbohydrate at all times. That is more to do with your body's requirements to stay alive than it is to do with calories. The calorific value of carbohydrate is irrelevant when talking about your diabetes control.

You may be interested to read more about what I have learned at my training blog -

Alex of Oz

Humm thanks for your comment. I need to exercise alot more than I do. I will read your blog. That's great that your going to walk the Sahara. Congrats and Best of Luck Alex!

Hi, Sue...

I think my doctor said it best... Focus on being healthy and the rest will come.  For a long time I thought I was doing that.  But until I reduced my starch carbs in my life, nothing was happening.  I'd exercise, thought I ate ok... but nothing.  I even told my doctor I'm focusing on being healthy and nothing is happening!!!  I am a carb counter... and now I really watch the starch carbs.  Since I've been doing that (about a month) I have already lost 2 lbs of fat.  Not just weight, but fat.  I try to exercise regularly and get weighed, measured and fat measured monthly at my gym.  i think if you stay away from anything white... pasta, rice, crackers, cereal, etc. you will notice a difference.  My sugars have now all dropped too!  I used to average around 200 now I'm down to about 160.  So hang in there... it will come off... slowly but surely.  And like the others said... the less insulin the better.. and eating healthier carbs will help do this.  By the way... I do eat some starchy stuff sometimes... you just have to measure it or eat it with things that are really low in carb, like salad.  I eat about 30-60 carbs per meal.

Well, I would say calories, since it is the input vs. output. But listen to Alex, of where these calories are coming from. The fats really pack on the calories, so that is enemy 1. Enemy 2 is carbs, since for us every carb is a shot of insulin and that insulin itself may contain fat. Though, just eating protien will make you sick. So, the true answer is balance of the 3. Also, add some extra vegtables, carrots and the like. What they once concidered free food. When you read food labels, lower fat first and then calories, and then sodium (who likes that), but keep an eye on carb increases. In the end, walk everyday and just feel better. PS: weight watchers work for many people (maybe look up their philosphy), I believe they were the first carb/fat counters:).

[quote user="Alex Williams"]

The only 4 food types that contain calories are:
1/ carbohydrates - 4 calories / gram
2/ protien - 4 calories / gram
3/ alcohol - 7 calories / gram ( which is why drinking alcohol is considered fattening )
4/ fats and oils - 9 calories / gram