How Many Calories Should a Diabetic Eat Daily?

Diabetics must monitor their diets carefully to keep blood-sugar levels under control and prevent complications. As with healthy adults, a diabetic's caloric needs depend on gender, weight and physical activity level. If you have diabetes, discuss your calorie and nutrition requirements with your doctor or dietitian.

A blood glucose meter sitting with fruits and vegetables. (Image: ratmaner/iStock/Getty Images)

1,200 to 1,600 Calories

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse recommends a 1,200- to 1,600-calorie diet for small women who exercise, small and medium-sized women who want to lose weight and medium-sized women who are relatively inactive. This diet should include six servings of starches, two servings of milk and other dairy products, three servings of vegetables, 4 to 6 oz. of meat or meat substitutes, two servings of fruit and up to three servings of fats.

1,600 to 2,000 Calories

The diabetes clearinghouse recommends a 1,600- to 2,000-calorie diet for the following: large women who want to lose weight, small men who don't need to lose weight, medium-sized men who are relatively inactive and medium-sized and large men who want to lose weight. This diet should include eight servings of starches, two servings of milk and dairy products, four servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, 4 to 6 oz. of meat or meat substitutes and up to four servings of fats.

2,000 to 2,400 Calories

The diabetes clearinghouse advises a 2,000- to 2,400-calorie diet for medium-sized and large adults who are physically active and large men who don't need to lose weight. This diet should include 10 servings of starches, two servings of milk and dairy products, four servings of vegetables, four servings of fruit, 5 to 7 oz. of meat or meat substitutes and up to five servings of fats.

Serving Sizes

Diabetes exchange lists provide specific serving-size information so that you know how much of each food within a group you can eat. Within each food group, a serving of any food should provide the same amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Meal Scheduling

Following a consistent meal and snack schedule is necessary for regulating blood-glucose levels. Try to eat every three hours, and alternate meals with snacks. For example, have breakfast at 7 a.m., a morning snack at 10 a.m., lunch at 1 p.m., an afternoon snack at 4 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and an evening snack at 10 p.m.

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