20 High Carb Food List to Avoid for Diabetics (Comprehensive Guide)

20 High Carb Food List to Avoid for Diabetics (Comprehensive Guide)

Millions of individuals all around the world suffer from diabetes. One of the most important steps in managing diabetes is controlling blood sugar levels, and one way to do this is by avoiding high-carb foods. High-carb foods can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which can be detrimental to the health of diabetics.

Here are 20 high-carb foods that diabetics should avoid or limit in their diet:

  1. White bread and other baked goods made with refined flour
  2. White rice
  3. Pasta and noodles made with refined flour
  4. Sugary drinks, including soda, sweetened tea and coffee, and energy drinks
  5. Fruit juices, especially those with added sugar
  6. Processed snacks and chips, such as potato chips, crackers, and pretzels
  7. Candy and other sugary sweets
  8. Breakfast cereals that are high in sugar
  9. Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  10. Corn and corn products, such as tortilla chips and popcorn
  11. Fruit canned in syrup or with added sugar
  12. Dried fruits that are sweetened with sugar
  13. Honey and maple syrup
  14. Yogurt with added sugar
  15. Ice cream and other frozen desserts with added sugar
  16. Granola bars and other snack bars that are high in sugar
  17. Energy bars that are high in sugar and carbs
  18. Pizza and other foods made with high-carb crusts
  19. Alcoholic beverages, especially beer and sweet mixed drinks
  20. High-carb condiments, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, and sweet chili sauce

So, I guess you get the basic idea; now, for details, let’s dive into the heart of the article.

Table of Contents hide

Types of High Carb Foods Diabetic People Should Avoid.

We will discuss some types of foods that should be avoided if you have diabetic.

Sugary Drinks.

Sugary drinks top the list. This includes soda, fruit juice, sports drinks, and energy drinks. These beverages are loaded with sugar and can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. In fact, just one 12-ounce can of soda contains about 40 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to 10 teaspoons.

Refined Grains.

In contrast, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa have lower GI scores and are better choices for diabetics. Whole grains contain more fiber than refined grains, which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream.

Starchy Vegetables.

Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are high in carbohydrates and can cause a significant increase in blood sugar levels. One medium-sized potato contains about 37 grams of carbs, while one cup of corn contains about 32 grams of carbs.

Processed Snacks.

Processed snacks like crackers and chips are often loaded with refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, making them a poor choice for diabetics. These snacks can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels and contribute to insulin resistance over time.

Instead of processed snacks, diabetics should opt for healthier snack options like nuts, seeds, or fresh fruit. These snacks contain healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins that can help regulate blood sugar levels.

Understanding the Glycemic Index for Diabetics.

For diabetics, understanding the glycemic index is crucial because it can help them manage their blood sugar levels. Consuming foods with a low or moderate GI value can help prevent spikes in blood sugar and maintain stable glucose levels throughout the day.

Food with High GI Value.

Some examples of high-carb foods with a high GI value that diabetics should avoid include white bread, white rice, sugary drinks, and processed snacks. These types of food are often highly processed and lack nutrients, which means they can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar without providing any real nutritional value.

However, it’s important to note that the nutritional value of a food is not necessarily related to its GI value. For example, some fruits like watermelon have a high GI value but are still healthy choices because they contain essential vitamins and minerals.

Check both GI & Nutrition Values.

To create a balanced diet that takes into account both the glycemic index and overall nutrition, diabetics should work with a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help develop personalized meal plans that meet individual needs and preferences while also helping manage blood sugar levels.

In addition to working with a dietitian, there are other steps diabetics can take to incorporate low-GI foods into their diets. One simple tip is to choose whole-grain options instead of refined grains like white bread or pasta. Whole-grain options typically have lower GI values because they contain more fiber than refined grains.

Incorporating lean proteins like chicken, fish, and tofu can also help balance out meals and prevent blood sugar spikes. These types of proteins are digested slowly and have little impact on blood glucose levels.

Diabetics should choose options that are high in fiber and protein but low in carbs. Some examples include nuts, seeds, and hummus with vegetables.

Recommended Reading: Low-Carb Diets for Diabetes Management A Comprehensive Guide

The Role of Carbohydrates in Diabetes Management.

Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient that provides energy to the body. However, for people with diabetes, managing carbohydrate intake is crucial to control blood glucose levels. Foods that contain carbohydrates can raise blood sugar levels quickly, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes.

Carbohydrate Counting.

One way that people with diabetes manage their carbohydrate intake is through carbohydrate counting. This involves keeping track of how many grams of carbohydrates they consume each day and adjusting their insulin dosage accordingly.

High-Carb Foods to Avoid.

It’s important for people with diabetes to limit or avoid high-carb foods such as sugary drinks, candy, and baked goods. These types of foods can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels and make it difficult to manage diabetes effectively.

Quality Carbohydrates.

However, diabetics shouldn’t automatically avoid all carbohydrates. Choosing quality carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can provide essential nutrients and fiber while helping to control blood sugar levels.

Whole Grains.

Whole grains are a great source of quality carbohydrates. They contain fiber which slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Examples include brown rice, quinoa, barley, and whole wheat bread.


Fruits also contain quality carbohydrates that provide essential vitamins and minerals needed by the body. However, some fruits like bananas have high carb content, so they should be consumed in moderation.


Vegetables are another great source of quality carbohydrates that also contain fiber which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., should be included in your diet.

Balancing Carbs with Protein and Fat.

It’s important to remember that carbohydrates are not the only macronutrient that affects blood sugar levels. Protein and fat also play a role in diabetes management.



Foods high in fat should be consumed in moderation as they can increase cholesterol levels. However, adding healthy fats like avocado, nuts, or olive oil to your diet can provide essential nutrients while helping you feel full longer.

Hidden Sources of Carbs in Common Foods and Drinks.

Processed foods and certain drinks often contain hidden sources of carbs, such as added sugars and starches. These carbs can quickly add up and contribute to blood sugar spikes in diabetics. It’s important for individuals with diabetes to be aware of these hidden sources of carbs and make informed choices when it comes to their diet.

1. Whole Grains and Dairy Products.

Most foods, including whole grains and dairy products, contain some amount of carbs. However, it’s important to choose wisely and opt for low-fat dairy products. Whole grains are a great source of fiber but can also be high in carbs. When consuming whole grains, it’s important to pay attention to portion sizes and pair them with protein or healthy fats to help slow down the absorption of carbs.

2. Fruit Juice.

Fruit juices are often high in sugar and should be avoided or consumed in moderation by diabetics. While fruit is a healthy choice for most people, those with diabetes need to be mindful of their intake due to the natural sugars found in fruits.

3. Cereals and Processed Foods.

Trans fats found in many cereals and processed foods can also contribute to carb intake and should be limited in a diabetic diet. Trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, which is already a concern for individuals with diabetes.

4. Sugary Drinks.

Sugary drinks like soda should be avoided altogether. Instead, opt for water or unsweetened tea or coffee. If you’re looking for something sweet, try adding a splash of lemon or lime juice or using sugar-free sweeteners.

5. Alcoholic Beverages.

6. Snacks.

When choosing snacks, look for options that are low-carb but still satisfying. Nuts are a great choice as they’re high in healthy fats and protein. Cheese and vegetables with dip are also good options.

Additional Advice.

It’s important to read food labels carefully when grocery shopping. Look for foods that are low in carbs and high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Avoid foods that contain added sugars or refined grains.

Incorporating more whole, unprocessed foods into your diet is a great way to reduce your carb intake while still getting the nutrients you need. Focus on lean proteins like chicken and fish, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and healthy fats like avocado and olive oil.

When eating out at restaurants, don’t be afraid to ask questions about how dishes are prepared. Many restaurants offer low-carb options or can make substitutions to accommodate dietary restrictions.

Recommended Reading: Delicious and Easy Low-Carb Recipes for Weight Loss

Impact of High Carb Foods on Blood Sugar Levels.

High-carb foods can have a significant impact on blood sugar levels, particularly for individuals with diabetes. When consumed, high-carb foods can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, leading to sugar spikes. This can be especially dangerous for diabetics who struggle to regulate their blood sugar levels.

Sugar Spikes and High Carb Foods.

Foods that are high in carbohydrates include bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and sugary snacks such as candy and cake. These foods are often referred to as “simple carbs” because they are broken down quickly by the body into glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream.

When glucose enters the bloodstream too quickly, it can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. For individuals with diabetes, this can be particularly dangerous because their bodies may not produce enough insulin or may not use insulin effectively to regulate blood sugar levels.

If left unmanaged, frequent sugar spikes can lead to long-term complications such as nerve damage, kidney disease, and vision problems.

Cholesterol Levels and High Carb Foods.

Consuming high-carb foods regularly can also lead to an increase in cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is found in many animal-based products such as meat and dairy.

When consumed in excess amounts, cholesterol can build up in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease and other health complications.

Blood Pressure and High Carb Foods.

Eating a diet high in carbohydrates can also contribute to high blood pressure. When there is too much glucose in the bloodstream due to consuming high-carb foods frequently or excessively over time, it causes inflammation throughout the body, which leads to increased pressure on arterial walls.

This inflammation makes it harder for your heart muscle to pump enough oxygen-rich blood through your arteries which increases your risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure).

Low Glycemic Index Foods.

For diabetics who need to manage their carbohydrate intake carefully while still maintaining good nutrition habits overall – choosing low glycemic index foods can be a helpful strategy.

Low glycemic index foods are those that have a slower and more steady impact on blood sugar levels. These foods include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

By choosing low glycemic index foods, diabetics can help regulate their blood sugar levels while still enjoying a wide variety of nutritious and delicious foods.

The link between High Carb Intake and Insulin Resistance.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels in the body. It is produced by the pancreas and helps glucose enter cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for later use. However, when we consume high amounts of carbohydrates, our insulin levels spike to keep up with the increased demand.

Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, a condition in which cells become less responsive to insulin signals. This can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other health conditions such as heart disease and weight gain.

Increased Risk of Insulin Resistance.

High carb intake can lead to increased insulin levels in the body, which can contribute to insulin resistance. Studies have shown that diets high in refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, and sugary drinks are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Consuming high amounts of saturated fats alongside high carb intake can further increase the risk of insulin resistance and related health issues.

Saturated Fats: The Culprit.

Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products such as meat and dairy products but also occur naturally in some plant-based foods like coconut oil. They are often solid at room temperature and have been linked to heart disease due to their ability to raise LDL cholesterol levels. High levels of LDL cholesterol are commonly known as “bad” cholesterol because they contribute to plaque buildup in arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.

Replacing High Carb Foods with Healthier Options.

Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while avoiding processed foods is one way you can reduce your risk of developing insulin resistance. These foods contain fiber which slows down digestion, resulting in a slower release of glucose into your bloodstream. This means that your body does not need large amounts of insulin all at once.

Healthy Fats: A Better Option.

Incorporating healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts can also improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of heart disease. These fats are known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help lower blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance, and improve overall health.

A study conducted on 2,375 participants showed that replacing refined carbohydrates with whole grains led to a significant reduction in insulin resistance. Another study involving 60 overweight individuals found that consuming a diet high in monounsaturated fats resulted in improved insulin sensitivity compared to a diet high in saturated fats.

Strategies for Reducing Carb Intake while Maintaining a Balanced Diet.

Here are some vital tips you must know for a balanced diet.

1. Gradually Reduce Carbohydrate Intake.

Gradually reducing carb intake can be an effective strategy for avoiding cravings and making it easier to stick to a low-carb diet. Start by cutting out high-carb foods like white bread, pasta, and sugary drinks. Instead, opt for whole-grain bread, brown rice, and other complex carbohydrates that are digested more slowly and don’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

2. Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods.

Focusing on nutrient-dense foods is another key strategy for reducing carb intake while maintaining a balanced diet. Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while lean protein provides essential amino acids that support muscle growth and repair. Healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and olive oil can also help keep you feeling full and satisfied.

3. Follow Dietary Guidelines.

Following dietary guidelines can help ensure that you’re getting the right balance of nutrients while reducing your carb intake. The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics consume 45-60 grams of carbs per meal. This may vary depending on your individual needs and health goals.

4. Pay Attention to Nutrition Labels.

Reading nutrition labels is crucial when trying to reduce carbohydrate intake. Look for foods that are low in carbs and high in fiber, which can help slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. It’s also important to pay attention to serving sizes since many packaged foods contain multiple servings per container.

5. Save Money by Cooking at Home.

Cooking at home is not only a great way to save money but also an effective way to control the ingredients in your meals. By preparing your own meals, you can ensure that you’re getting the nutrition you need without breaking the bank or sacrificing taste.

6. Incorporate Low-Carb Snacks.

Incorporating low-carb snacks into your diet can help keep hunger at bay between meals. Some examples include hard-boiled eggs, raw veggies with hummus, and nuts. These snacks are high in protein and healthy fats, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.

7. Choose Low-Carb Substitutes.

Choosing low-carb substitutes for your favorite foods can help reduce your overall carb intake without sacrificing taste. For example, you can swap out traditional pasta for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. You can also use cauliflower rice instead of regular rice or mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.

8. Stay Hydrated.

Drinking plenty of water is essential when reducing carbohydrate intake. Not only does it help flush out toxins from the body, but it also helps keep you feeling full and satisfied. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, and avoid sugary drinks like soda and juice.

9. Get Enough Sleep.

Getting enough sleep is crucial when trying to maintain a balanced diet while reducing carb intake. Lack of sleep can lead to increased cravings for high-carb foods, as well as decreased energy levels that make it harder to stick to a healthy eating plan.

10. Exercise Regularly.

Regular exercise is another key component of maintaining a balanced diet while reducing carb intake. Exercise helps increase insulin sensitivity, which makes it easier for your body to process carbohydrates effectively. It also helps burn calories and build lean muscle mass, which can improve overall health and wellness.

Recommended Reading: The Paleo Way: Your Ultimate Handbook to Shedding Pounds and Feeling Great

Importance of Portion Control for High Carb Foods.

Portion control is a crucial aspect of managing blood sugar levels in diabetics who consume high-carb foods. Eating too many high-carb foods can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, causing complications for diabetics. Therefore, it is essential to consume high-carb foods in moderation and balance them with low-carb options to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Measuring portions using tools like measuring cups or food scales can help diabetics keep track of their carb intake and avoid overeating. It is recommended that diabetics measure their food portions until they are familiar with appropriate serving sizes. This can be particularly helpful when eating out or consuming pre-packaged meals, where portion sizes may not be clear.

Consult with Doctor.

Consulting a registered dietitian can also help diabetics create a personalized meal plan that includes appropriate portion sizes for high-carb foods. A registered dietitian can provide guidance on how many carbs should be consumed at each meal and snack based on an individual’s age, weight, activity level, and other factors.

It is important to note that portion control does not mean eliminating high-carb foods altogether. Instead, it means being mindful of the amount consumed and balancing them with low-carb options. For example, instead of having a large serving of pasta for dinner, one could have a smaller portion of pasta accompanied by a side salad or roasted vegetables.

What Research Found?

One study found that reducing portion sizes by 25% resulted in a 30% reduction in calorie intake without increasing feelings of hunger or decreasing satisfaction from the meal. This highlights the importance of portion control not only for managing blood sugar levels but also for overall health and weight management.

Another way to practice portion control is by using visual cues, such as the plate method. The plate method involves dividing the plate into sections: half should be filled with non-starchy vegetables like spinach or broccoli; one-quarter should be filled with lean protein like chicken or fish; and one-quarter should be filled with high-carb foods like brown rice or sweet potatoes. This method ensures that the meal is balanced and provides appropriate portion sizes for each food group.

It is also essential to pay attention to serving sizes when consuming packaged foods. The serving size listed on the package may not always reflect the amount consumed, so it is important to measure the appropriate portion size using measuring cups or a food scale.

Meal Planning and Preparation Tips.

Here are some vital tips for your meal planning.

1. Count Your Carbs.

One of the most important things you can do when managing your carb intake is to keep track of how many carbs you’re consuming each day. This will help you plan your meals accordingly and ensure that you’re staying within your recommended daily carb limit.

Consulting a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator can be especially helpful in creating a meal plan that fits your specific needs. They can help you determine how many carbs you should be eating each day, as well as provide guidance on which foods to eat and which to avoid.

2. Choose Low Glycemic Index Foods.

When planning your meals, it’s important to choose foods that have a low glycemic index (GI) score. These are foods that are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels, making them ideal for people with diabetes who need to manage their carb intake.

Examples of low GI foods include non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and kale; whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and barley; and legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans.

3. Portion Control.

While it’s important to choose the right types of foods when managing your carb intake, portion control is also key. Even healthy high-carb foods can cause blood sugar spikes if eaten in large quantities.

Using measuring cups or a food scale can help ensure that you’re not overeating. It’s also helpful to learn what appropriate portion sizes look like for different types of foods so that you can eyeball them when necessary.

4. Meal Prep.

Preparing your meals in advance is another great way to stay on track with your carb intake. Cooking large batches of healthy meals and storing them in individual containers makes it easy to grab and go throughout the week.

When meal prepping for the week ahead, try incorporating a variety of low-GI foods into your recipes. For example, make a big batch of roasted vegetables with quinoa or brown rice, or prepare a big pot of lentil soup.

Diabetic-Friendly Low Carb Meal Ideas.

Incorporating low-carb alternatives into your meals is a great way to manage blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy diet for those with diabetes. By swapping out high-carb grains and incorporating non-starchy vegetables, lean protein sources, and healthy fats, you can create delicious and satisfying meals that won’t spike your blood sugar.

In this section, we will discuss some low-carb alternatives, recipes, and meal ideas for diabetic-friendly meals.

1. Incorporate Non-Starchy Vegetables.

Non-starchy vegetables are an excellent addition to any meal plan as they are packed with fiber and nutrients without adding extra carbs. Some great options include broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, kale, bell peppers, zucchini, and asparagus. These vegetables can be roasted or steamed as a side dish or added to soups or stews for extra flavor.

2. Swap Out High-Carb Grains.

High-carb grains like rice and pasta can easily be swapped out for low-carb alternatives such as quinoa, cauliflower rice, or zucchini noodles. Quinoa is a great option as it is high in protein and fiber while being relatively low in carbs. Cauliflower rice can be made by grating raw cauliflower in a food processor or using pre-made frozen cauliflower rice. Zucchini noodles can also be made using a spiralizer or purchased pre-made at most grocery stores.

3. Include Lean Protein Sources.

Including lean protein sources like chicken breast, fish fillets (such as salmon), tofu, or tempeh helps regulate blood sugar levels while keeping you feeling full for longer periods of time. These proteins are also versatile enough to be used in many different dishes, such as salads or stir-fries.

4. Experiment with Low-Carb Recipes.

Low-carb versions of classic dishes like pizza, tacos, and burgers can easily be made using ingredients like almond flour crusts for the pizza base instead of traditional wheat flour crusts. Tacos can be made using lettuce wraps instead of tortillas, and burgers can be served on a bed of lettuce or portobello mushroom caps instead of buns. These low-carb alternatives are just as delicious and satisfying as their high-carb counterparts.

5. Opt for Healthy Fats.

Healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and olive oil add flavor and satiety to your meals without adding extra carbs. Avocado can be mashed up into guacamole or sliced onto salads, while nuts can be used as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt. Olive oil is also an excellent option for cooking vegetables or using as a salad dressing.

6. Plan Ahead with Meal Prep.

Planning ahead by meal-prepping diabetic-friendly options like grilled chicken salads or roasted vegetable bowls ensures you always have a healthy option on hand. This is especially important when eating out at restaurants where carb-heavy options are often the norm. By having pre-made meals on hand, you can easily stick to your low-carb diet plan.


Managing diabetes requires careful attention to the types and amounts of carbohydrates consumed. High-carb foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike and increase the risk of complications associated with diabetes. By understanding the glycemic index, hidden sources of carbs in common foods and drinks, and the link between high-carb intake and insulin resistance, people with diabetes can make informed choices about their diet.

Reducing carb intake while maintaining a balanced diet is achievable through strategies such as portion control, meal planning, and preparation tips. Low-carb alternatives, recipes, and meal ideas can also help people with diabetes enjoy delicious meals while managing their condition.

It’s important to remember that not all carbs are created equal. Fruits are an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates that provide energy without causing spikes in blood sugar levels. Fried foods, processed snacks, and sugary drinks should be avoided or limited as much as possible due to their high carb content.

Choosing healthy fats and proteins in combination with low-glycemic index carbohydrates can help stabilize blood sugar levels over time. Additionally, reducing sodium intake can further improve overall health outcomes for people with diabetes.

By making informed choices about high-carb foods to avoid for diabetics, individuals can take control of their health and reduce the risk of complications associated with this condition. With proper management techniques in place, people with diabetes can lead happy and healthy lives while enjoying delicious food choices that support their body’s needs.