Can Diabetics Eat Tamales? Know The Details

Tamales are one of the most beloved Mexican dishes in America. Who can resist a hot tamale wrap with meat, vegetables, cheese, and herbs wrapped in delicious corn dough? Some even believe that since there are vegetables and herbs in tamales, they may be suitable for diabetics, but is there even any truth to that? Can diabetics eat tamales without consequences? Well, these are the questions we will be answering in this article.

Simply put, it’s better to not eat tamales regularly if you’re diabetic. The dish contains a certain amount of carbs and sugar that can seriously cause blood sugar imbalances and harm the person eating it. But you can eat tamales with low sugar and carbs to stay healthy and enjoy the delicious wraps.

In this article, I will show why you shouldn’t eat certain tamales and tell you the secret of making tamales with low sugar and carbohydrates.

Is Tamale Good for Diabetics?

Is Tamale Good For Diabetics

You may think that a couple of tamales once in a while is no big deal, but you can never be too careful with what you eat when you have diabetes. Each serving of a tamale wrap has 353 calories, which can become deadly for diabetics if consumed too much.

A single wrap of 164 grams of tamale consists of roughly 24.7g of carbohydrates, 1.97g of fiber, and 0.66g of sugar, which brings its net carbohydrate reading to 22.3 grams. This may not seem like enough to cause too much damage to diabetics. Still, eating too much of it can add up and cause your cholesterol and blood sugar levels to rise significantly.

This table will give you an accurate idea of how many calories and carbohydrates are in one serving of 164g meat tamale:




24.27 g


1.97 g


0.66 g

Net carbs

22.3 g

How Many Calories Should a Diabetic Eat?

How Many Calories Should a Diabetic Eat

As we all know, you must consume certain calories daily to maintain your body weight and not starve it. The amount of calories a person needs daily depends on their physical condition.

The amount of calories one has to consume depends on their body weight. A healthy man needs to eat around 2500 calories daily to keep their body healthy and fit, and women need to eat around 2000 calories daily to keep themselves healthy.

When someone has diabetes, they must accurately count how many calories they take daily. But this calorie count changes if you have diabetes. Too much calorie intake can raise your blood glucose levels, cause frequent urination, and even become deadly if you have hyperglycemia.

On the other hand, if you don’t take in enough calories daily, it can cause your blood glucose levels to drop and cause dizziness, unconsciousness, and low blood pressure. So you must keep counting your calories every time you eat if you have diabetes.

According to research, a person with type-1 diabetes must eat 16 calories per pound of body weight. People with type-2 diabetes must eat around 1500–1800 calories per day, according to their body weight, to maintain good health and proper body weight.

By these methods, we can say that eating meat tamales can potentially harm anyone with diabetes. Since a meat tamale has a total calorie count of 344, eating more than one of the wraps can significantly increase your calorie intake and cause damage to your health. So, it’s recommended that you don’t eat more than one meat tamale a day if you have diabetes. If you eat more than one, you must watch what you eat for the rest of your life to stay within your daily calorie count.

How Many Carbs and Sugars Should a Diabetic Consume?

Eating too many carbohydrates and sugars is not healthy for anyone. It is necessary for everyone, regardless of their physical condition, to limit their sugar and other carbohydrate intakes to keep themselves healthy. A healthy person has to eat around 225 to 325 grams of carbs and sugar every day, depending on how active they are and how many calories they burn daily.

People with diabetes must eat significantly fewer carbs and sugar daily to keep their blood glucose levels from rising too much or plummeting. According to health professionals, a person with diabetes should take no more than 45 to 60 calories daily, depending on how much energy they burn daily, to keep their vitals in good health.

According to the data on tamales, a standard 164g serving of a tamale roll consists of roughly 24.7g of carbs, including 0.66g of sugar. The data shows that a single tamale can consist of half the required carbs and sugar intake that a diabetic has to take daily. So, this also shows that if you’re diabetic, eating meat tamales will not be good for your overall health.

How to Make Low-Carb and Low-Sugar Tamales?

Tamales are one of the most popular snacks in America. The meat, veggies, and salads wrapped in sweet corn dough are among the country’s traditional Thanksgiving snacks. It may be disheartening for some to stop eating this delicious snack just for their health.

The ingredients make the tamales we know in love bad for our health. Most tamales are made with highly fatty meat such as pork and lard, some of the worst things you can eat when you have diabetes. Another thing that significantly increases the amount of sugar in tamales is the sauce that comes with it. Most people believe tamales taste better when you eat them with sweet or high-calorie sauces.

But the ingredients required to make a tasty tamale aren’t confined to only pork, lard, and high-calorie sauce. I found that you can easily make tamales without using any high-calorie or high-carb ingredients.

In this article section, I will let you in on a recipe to make healthy and nutritious tamales safe for anyone with diabetes.

The recipe we included in this article is from Pesco Foods, one of the most trusted cooking websites in the UK. The recipe is safe for people with diabetes because it has a significantly lower carbohydrate and calorie count than your usual meat tamales. However, you should watch how much you need because the tamales will still have some calories and carbs.

The Recipe For Making Diabetes-Friendly Tamales

Ingredients for the stuffing:

  • 2.5 pounds of chicken breasts
  • 3.5 cups or enough water to cover the chicken pieces.
  • 1 teaspoon full of canola oil.
  • 1 average-sized onion.
  • 1 average-sized bell pepper.
  • 3 cloves of garlic.
  • 1 full tomato.
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin.
  • 2 teaspoons of crushed and dried chili peppers.
  • 1 teaspoon full of salt (low-sodium).
  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste.

Ingredients to make the wrap:

  • 4 cups of flour made from masa corn.
  • 4 teaspoons of canola oil.
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder.
  • Half a teaspoon of salt (low-sodium).
  • 2 cups of chicken broth,
  • 18 or 20 pieces of dried-up corn husks.

This tamale recipe simply replaces the ingredients with the most calories and carbohydrates with fewer calories and carbs. It replaces the lard with vegetable oil, significantly reducing the fats and calories in the dish.

You can also replace the meat in your tamales with vegetables, which are healthier for people with diabetes. To make vegetable tamales, you must replace your protein with spinach, serrano peppers, black or pinto beans, and some low-fat cheese. You must cook the veggies before incorporating them into your mix of ingredients.


So, can diabetics eat tamales? Since tamales are a snack made from fatty meat and lard and eaten with high-sugar sauces, they, too, are a snack that diabetics should avoid eating regularly. However, as I showed you, you can still eat diabetes-friendly tamales if you make them with low-fat and low-carb ingredients.

That said, being a diabetic isn’t easy. You have to make a lot of sacrifices when you have diabetes only to keep your body running and healthy. One of the major sacrifices that people with diabetes must make is eating their favorite foods. Diabetics aren’t allowed to eat food that is too fatty or has high counts of sugar; because of this, diabetics have to avoid eating too much meat and oily and sugary snacks.

Marzia Khan
Marzia Khan

Marzia Khan is the director of content and operations at RobustAlive. She contributes to content strategy and process management across product initiatives, RND, and the editorial. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Frontline, and the PBS. Before joining RobustAlive, she also co-authored award-winning research on health and wellness and participated in various initiatives to increase awareness about healthy living and chronic disease prevention. She acts as the co-editor for RobustAlive and brings an expansive network of connections to the table while managing activity execution where required.