Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Counting Carbs

Like me, do you almost automatically turn over containers and look at the carb count?  I find myself deducting the fibre count too, almost subconsciously, to see how many net digestible carbohydrates there are per portion.

I recently discovered this isn't always a good idea.  You see, some food producers deduct the fibre for you, so if you deduct it too, you're consuming more carbs than you think.

For example, look at these hemp hearts, which are available at Costco:

If you add the sugars and the fibre, they exceed the carbohydrate count, so it's pretty certain that this is a net number.

For Maranatha almond butter we see the following:

Do you see the difference?  The hemp hearts list "Carbohydrates", whereas the almond butter count is for "Total Carb." 

I don't know how I missed this important little detail before, and it's one more thing to look out for if you're counting carbs.


  1. Great catch! I just looked at my jar of Maranatha No Stir almond butter and see a discrepancy, with total carbs 7g, fiber 3g, sugars 3g. Where's the other gram? I will be watching for this sneaky listing of carbs vs total carbs. Between getting less in jars and cans that we used to for the same or higher prices, it's hard to depend on anything from manufacturers.

  2. The difference you're referring to, Nancan, is another one that is often confusing. Here's an article on reading nutrition labels that explains it: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/family-nutrition/food-labels/how-read-package-label.

    Of note: "As a general guide, the greater the discrepancy between "total carbohydrates" and "sugar," on the label, the more nutritious carbohydrates the food contains. This means that the package contains more of the food's natural sugars than added sugars. The closer the number of grams of "sugar" is to the "total carbohydrates" in each serving, the closer the food gets to the junk quality (sort of like junk bonds -- they are a risky investment). The "total carbs" minus the "sugar" value is particularly helpful in comparing the nutritional value of cereals. For example, a serving of regular All-Bran contains 24 grams of total carbohydrates and 6 grams of sugars, resulting in 18 grams of potentially healthy carbohydrates. A serving of Fruit Loops, on the other hand, contains 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 15 grams of which are sugars - over 50 percent of the total carbohydrates in Fruit Loops are added sweeteners, versus 25 percent in All-Bran."