1600 Calorie Diabetic Diet Plan

1600 calorie diabetic dietThe 1600 calorie diabetic meal plan explained. Let’s take a look at how it works and also a sample menu. With this diet you can eat healthy and even lose weight! But first, what exactly is the diet? And, is this diet for everyone?

As the name implies, you only eat 1600 calories a day. This part is very straight forward. However, as you may have guessed, you can’t just eat anything you want. Proper nutrition must be taken into account so that you can maintain proper blood sugar levels and have enough energy to feel good throughout the day.

How is this done? The two most common approaches to crafty a healthy meal plan is through either the Exchange Diet Plan or Carbohydrate Counting. Both plans are approved and advocated by the American Diabetes Association.

In a nut shell, the exchange diet simply categorizes food into six different groups (starches, fats, dairy, fruit, vegetables, meat and meat substitutes and fat). Then, based on the nutritional characteristics of the food (e.g., calories, carbohydrates, protein and fats) an appropriate serving size is determined for each food that is equal to one exchange value.

Each serving is meant to reflect the approximate effect that food has on your blood sugar. For example, one piece of bread has the same effect on your blood sugar as approximately 6 saltine crackers,1/2 cup of carrots, 1 oz. of lean meat, etc. A dietician will then determine how many servings from each category you should have to ensure a healthy diet. A sample is provided below.

Carbohydrate counting is similar to the exchange diet except it focuses on primarily on keeping track of the carbohydrates. Why? Because carbohydrates typically affect your blood sugar the most, so monitoring your intake of them helps you avoid unwanted spikes in your glucose levels.
Some people prefer carb counting because it tends to be a little easier to keep track of your eating since you are mostly focused on keeping track of only one food group. Both approaches view one serving of carbohydrates as 15 grams, about 1 slice of bread.

One serving is approximately 60 calories (4 calories per gram). The 1600 calorie diet recommends that 50% of your calories should be in the form of carbohydrates, or approximately 13 servings of carbohydrates.


The National Institute of Health lists VERY general guidelines for people who may want to follow a 1600 calorie diet.

  • Small Woman, good exercise
  • Small or medium sized woman seeking to lose weight
  • Medium sized woman, low exercise

The NIH suggests others may follow this type of diet, so it is best to consult your personal physician and /or dietician to definitively determine if this type of diet is right for you.


Your meal plan will depend on your individual tastes and preferences. It will also somewhat depend on whether you will be carb counting or using the exchange diet. A 1600 calorie diabetic diet will typically have 50 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat and 20 percent protein.

Here is an example of how this diet would look using the exchange system:

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks (2) Total
Milk0.5 0.5 012

Now let’s see what a 1600 calorie menu plan looks like.


Breakfast Exchange Lunch Exchange Dinner Exchange
1/2 Cup Cooked Cereal1 Starch 1 Cup Romaine LettuceFree 3 oz. Baked Haddock (olive oil brush)3 Meat/1 Fat
1 Cup Skim Milk 1 Milk 1/2 Cup Carrots 1 Veggie 1 Cup Brown Rice2 Starch
1/4 Cup Cottage Cheese1 Meat1/4 Cup tomatoes1 Veggie 1 Cup Steamed Broccoli2 Veggie
3/4 Cup Blueberries1 Fruit 1 Tbs. Pinenuts1 Fat 1 1/3 Cup Strawberries1 Fruit
Coffee or TeaFree2 oz. 95% Fat Free lunchmeat2 Meat 2 Walnuts1 Fat
2 Slices Red. Calorie Bread 2 Starch WaterFree


Snack 1 Exchange Snack 2 Exchange
15 Grapes 1 Fruit 8 oz. Nonfat Plain Yogurt1 Milk
2 Rice Cakes1 Starch 3 Gingersnaps1 Starch

With this meal plan the exchanges are appropriate, but the calories are approximate.


If you seem to fit into one of the categories listed above, then talk with your doctor to see if he or she agrees. While restrictive in the calorie sense, you certainly have a lot of choices when it comes to which foods you are going to eat.

With any diet, you must be aware that the diet has to be put together in an appropriate manner to ensure that you are receiving the proper nutrition. You can’t just eat 1600 calories or protein, or 1600 calories of carbohydrates.

Hopefully, this article helped you decide if the 1600 calorie diabetic diet is the correct choice for you.


What I need to know about eating, NIH.gov (accessed May 2013)

By Erich Schultz, Last Reviewed May 2013.