How do you count carbs?


Quick Answer

According to the American Diabetes Association, people can use food labels and serving-size estimates to count carbs. Find the serving size on a food label as well as the carb count. If the whole package will be consumed and it constitutes three servings, the carb count needs to be multiplied by three.

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Full Answer

Labels are not available for some foods. In these cases, the American Diabetes Association lists food servings that amount to about 15 grams of carbs. Some of these include a 4-ounce piece of fresh fruit, six chicken nuggets, 1 cup of soup, a quarter of a large baked potato, half a cup of ice cream, a slice of bread and 1/3 a cup of rice. Other tools, like MyFitnessPal, can be used to find out how many carbs food contains.

Carb counts include sugar, fiber and starch. According to WebMD, this has led to a debate on net carbs, or carbs that impact blood sugar levels more than other carbs. Some food labels show a total carb count of, for example, six carbs per serving but elsewhere on the package, it reads two net carbs per serving. Food manufacturers typically calculate net carbs by subtracting dietary fiber and sugar alcohols. WebMD says that net carb counts can be misleading because sugar alcohols affect blood sugar in people differently. One of the key elements of carb-counting is first establishing the amount of carbs to be taken in per day or per meal; simply reading a nutrition label is rather meaningless without establishing that baseline.

Learn more about Nutritional Amounts & Limits

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