Bread units BE (= 12 grams carbohydrates) or carbohydrate units KE (= 10 grams carbohydrates)

important energy suppliers for the body


Carbohydrates are the most important providers of energy for the body. 1 gram of carbohydrates has 4,1 kcal of energy. About 45 – 60% of the daily total energy should come from carbohydrates. Contrary to fat and protein carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels (except dietary fibres). Digestion of carbohydrates leads to sugar (glucose) which will higher the blood sugar.

Insulin-dependent people with diabetes have to make sure that the intake of carbohydrates matches the insulin dose to avoid hypo- or hyperglycemia. The calculation of the carbohydrates is done in some countries like Austria or Germany in Bread Units (1 BE = 12g carbohydrates) or in carbohydrate units (1 CU = 10g carbohydrates).

But also in other countries carb counting gets more and more popular. It is useful for people with diabetes to prefer food which leads only to slow increase of blood sugar – we are talking about Glycemic Index. This Glycemic Index helps to judge different kind of food after its blood sugar increasing effect. The speed of the increase of blood sugar depends on composition of a meal and now it is prepared. Food low in dietetic fibres or intensively processed leads to quick increase of blood sugar whereas food which has not been processed or is rich in fibres leads to slow increase of blood sugar.

Food with high Glycemic Index (75 – 100%): glucose tablets, honey, softdrinks, fruit juices, white bread, starch flour, cornflakes. Food with middle Glycemic Index (50 - 75%): potatoes, rice, noodles, mixed bread, muesli. Food with low Glycemic Index (30 – 50%): whole meal products, vegetables, fruits, legumes, milk products.


Glycemic Index GI

Measure for the effect of food rich in carbohydrates on the blood sugar;
Standard: glucose =  100%

75-100%e.g. glucose, honey, softdrinks, fruit juices, white bread, starch flour, cornflakes

e.g. potatoes, rice, noodles, mixed bread, muesli

30-50%e.g. whole meal products, vegetables, fruits, legumes, milk products

Calculating food

Which food is calculated in Bread Units / Carbohydrate units?

  • Corn and corn products (bread, flour,..)
  • Side dishes like rice, noodles, potatoes, dumplings,..
  • Fruits, products made of fruits
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Liquid milk products like milk, yoghourt, ...
  • Sweet corn
  • Hidden sugar
  • Sugar supplements (not recommended!)
  • Sweets made for people diabetes - see label; (Note: many of these special sweets are rich in energy and fat)
  • Legumes

Not to be calculated

  • Vegetables and salads
  • Butter, margarine, oils (use only in small amounts)
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Meat, sausages (Attention: pay attention to hidden sugar and fat content!)
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Artificial sweeteners