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Counting carbs


Here we discuss carbs counting for the purpose of low carb diet. As we discussed, in earlier stages we should target less than 20 g/day carb consumption.

What are carbs? — Carbs (short for "carbohydrates") are sugars that come from food. When we eat, our body breaks the food down into different nutrients. These nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The body uses carbohydrates for energy.

Foods with a lot of carbs include:

●Bread, pasta, rice, and cereal

●Fruits and starchy vegetables

●Milk and other dairy foods

●Foods with added sugar (such as many cookies and cakes)

What does "counting carbs" mean? — Counting carbs (also called "carb counting") is a type of meal planning that many people with diabetes use. It involves figuring out the number of carbs you eat. When people count carbs, they keep track of how many carbs they eat for each meal and snack.

People with diabetes need to know how many carbs they eat because eating carbs raises a person's blood sugar level.

How do I count carbs? — If your food has a nutrition label, you can look at the information on the nutrition label. You need to look at the:

●"Total carbohydrate" number – This tells you how many carbs are in 1 serving size of the food. If you eat 1 serving, then the number of carbs you eat is the same as the number of total carbohydrates.

●"Serving size" – This tells you how much food is in 1 serving. If you have 2 servings, the number of carbs will be 2 times the number of carbohydrates listed.

●"Dietary fiber" – Fiber is a carbohydrate that is not digested, which means it does not raise blood sugar. Foods with a lot of fiber can help control a person's blood sugar. If a food has more than 5 grams (g) of fiber, less insulin is needed for that food. Dietary fibers are not digested and can be subtracted from total carbohydrate number for purposes of estimating the total carbohydrates consumed

Sometime there is a significant gap between the "total carbohydrate" number, "sugar" and "dietary fiber" number. When such gap exists it represents the complex carbohydrates or sugar alcohols. This gap should be counted toward the  total carbohydrates consumed number.

Many foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, don't have a nutrition label. For these foods, you will need to learn about the usual serving sizes of different foods. You will also need t learn how many carbs are in 1 serving by checking the info from the internet.


Food to avoid with low carb diet is similar to the list of bad carbs, but it is more extensive since even good carbs need to be avoided:

- all fruits. I know, I hate it too. They are healthy, but remember, low carb diet is a temporary tool to facilitate weight loss. All carbohydrates, both good and bad need to be restricted in order for low carb diet to work

-any sugar and sugar substitutes, honey, molasses, candies, sodas, most commercial juices, corn syrup, most desserts like pies, cakes, cookies, pastries

- sugar alcohols such as maltitol, sorbitol

-any grains and grain products (see a separate section), any product made from wheat, barley, rice quinoa, rye, including but not limited to bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, cereal, pancakes, waffles

- oats

-corn, especially processed corn and corn flour containing products like tortilla chips, wraps, tacos, corn bread etc.


- sweet or starchy vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, winter squash, cooked beets and cooked carrots, cooked tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, prepackaged vegetables with sugars or flour

- dairy products like whole milk milk, sweetened yogurts or any dairy products with added sugars

-breading from breaded meat or fish, tempura breading

-sweet sauces (most sauces with rare exceptions have added sugars, read the labels)

-processed food (see separate section)


-sweet salad dressings (read labels), many restaurant salads have significant amount of added sugars

- most alcoholic mixers have added sugars

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