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Diabetic Exchange List Groups and Serving Sizes

Diabetic Exchange List Reference Chart


Updated April 22, 2009

Diabetic Exchange List Groups and Serving Sizes
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Exchanges are a method of meal planning for diabetes, and a diabetic exchange list can be a handy tool when learning to eat well with your condition. Foods are clustered into groups or categories of similar foods which all have approximately the same amount of carbohydrates per serving size. Serving sizes are established that keep all foods within a group at approximately the same amount of calories and fat, as well as grams of carbohydrates.

Exchange lists can simplify meal planning and ensure a consistent, nutritionally balanced diet. If you are on insulin, following an exchange diet makes it easier to figure out your ratio of carbs to insulin doses.

Exchanges also add variety to your diet. You can swap one food in a group for another in the same group when you are making your food choices.

According to the American Dietetic Association, there are now 8 exchange lists and all foods within a list have approximately the same carbs, protein, fat and calorie value per specified serving.

What are the lists and their values? Check out this handy chart.


Food Exchange Lists. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute - Obesity Education Initiative Website. Accessed: April 17, 2009.

Meal Planning Food Choices. American Diabetes Association Website. Accessed: April 17, 2009.

Current Food Exchange Categories and Values
Type of Food Serving Size*Calories Carbohydrates Fat
Vegetables 1/2 cup - 1 cup 25 5 grams 0
Fat-Free or Very Lowfat Milk 3/4-1 cup 90 12 0
Very Lean Protein 1 oz. (varies) 35 0 1
Lean Protein 1 oz. (varies) 55 0 2-3
Medium Fat Protein 1 oz. (varies) 75 0 5
Fruits 1 piece, 1/2-1 cup 60 15 0
Starches varies 80 15 0
Fats 1 tsp, 1-2 tbls. 45 0 5

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