What should I look for on food labels if I count carbohydrates?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

If you are counting your carbohydrate intake, the best place to look on a label is the nutrition facts panel. On the panel locate the line for Total Carbohydrate and check the serving size. This will tell you the total carbs for one serving. If there is 5 grams or more of fiber in the product, you can subtract half of the fiber from the total carbohydrate. For instance, if there is 20 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fiber, the amount of carbohydrate you will use for your carb counting is about 18 grams carbohydrate.

The two most important lines with carbohydrate counting are the serving size and the total carbohydrate amount.
  • Look at the serving size. All the information on the label is about this serving of food. If you will be eating a larger serving, then you will need to double or triple the information on the label.
  • Look at the grams of total carbohydrate. Total carbohydrate on the label includes sugar, starch, and fiber.
  • Know the amount of carb you can eat, and figure out the portion size to match.
  • If you are trying to lose weight, look at the calories. Comparing products can be helpful to find those lower in calories per serving.
  • To cut risk of heart disease and stroke, look at saturated and trans fats. Look for products with the lowest amount of saturated and trans fats per serving.
  • For people with high blood pressure, look at the sodium. Look for foods with less sodium.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.