Carb counting , Fiber and Sugar Alcohols

By Latest Reply 2009-03-03 11:42:32 -0600
Started 2009-02-14 23:09:53 -0600

Just something for those that are learning Carb counting for meals. If a product has more than 5 gms of fiber you can subtract that number from the total carb count to get your carb gms. For example: Fiber one cereal, 1/2 cup serving = 24 gms of carbohydrate and 10 grams of fiber. You would subtract the fiber and your net carbs per 1/2 cup would be 14 gms of carbs. Also if you purchase sugar free products with sugar alcohols on the label, you can subtract 1/2 the gms of sugar alcohol from the total carb grams to get the net carbs. Net carbs refers to the amount of carbohydrate in the product that will affect the blood sugar. The reason that you only subtract half of the sugar alcohol is because some have a zero effect such as erythritol and some have a high effect such as mallitol.

Note: this whole thing is much easier if you consume whole foods then you don't have to worry about what's in a food you just wash it, cook it if needed and eat it. :)


38 replies

2009-03-01 05:57:46 -0600 Report

Does anybody know of a good website that will teach you how to count carbs? I eat the foods that are on the list my doctor gave me. I have no idea how to count carbs. I am trying to take classes, but with both parents sick, I had to skip the February class. The last month my BS has been wonderful, however, I'm sure if I keep eating this way, it will not stay "wonderful!" :( Thank, Angie

John Crowley
John CrowleyCA 2009-03-03 09:59:52 -0600 Report

I like this site.

It allows you to choose different serving sizes for many of the most common foods.

Counting carbs really just means counting all the grams of carbohydrates (generally total carbs unless you use some of the rules discussed here to subtract fiber, etc.) in everything you eat. There are no tricks to it other than you get better and better at it through practice.

The Nutrition Data site is a good place to go to find the nutrition facts for almost any food.

kdroberts 2009-03-03 11:42:32 -0600 Report

I like this site too, lots of good info. I prefer the calorie king website for actually counting the carbs because you can enter the amount you are eating rather than relying on set amounts. For instance you can enter the exact number of grams you are eating on calorie king rather than have to select an approximation, say 1/2 cup or something like that, on nutrition data and then work out what you actually are eating. Actually last night I was doing this. I was on nutrition data and got the nutrition for 28g of something. Then I weighed what I had and then had a fight with a calculator. "Well if the serving is 28g and I have 162g then that's about…5.786 servings so the carb is…5.786 x the carb in 28g which is…6 so…about 35g carb. Now the fiber…" Then I remember I could just enter 162g into calorie king and get the full nutritional breakdown! I do love the crazy charts and needless data about the ingredients though, who doesn't want to know how much Beta Cryptoxanthin or Pantothenic Acid you're eating!

Ram - 31340
Ram - 31340 2009-02-24 13:57:41 -0600 Report

i have trouble with finding food prouducts that is low in carbs and sugar free. There is't much to shop for me to buy or it's too expensive since i'm on food stamps. how can we tell the food industry that we need products for us. My meals consit of meat veg fruit. sometimes it hard to fin something different, my dietitican says to only have 45 carbs for meals and 15 carbs for snacks. I had to give up on alot of foods. she also told me to stay away from high carbs like potatoes pasta carrots peas things you are not to have. then you see these cookbooks that you can have but they are in high carbs what can a person to do.i've been diagnose last year and it hard you get cravings sometimes for what you can't have. what is right on these recipes and the products you read on the you know what i'm talking about?

Rod Johnson
Rod Johnson 2009-02-23 16:34:20 -0600 Report

I find many of the topics here interesting. The question I have is if you get your A1c below 6 say mid 5s are you still considered a diabetic?

2009-02-23 20:50:55 -0600 Report

You'll always be a diabetic but if you A1C is that low, a well controlled diabetic.

rbergman 2009-02-23 22:13:14 -0600 Report

Agreed, you can control it, but you cannot cure it no matter how well your numbers are controlled, even if no medication is required to aid you, your still a diabetic and always will be unless if by some miracle they find a cure in your lifetime.

growingupartists 2009-02-21 15:54:11 -0600 Report

Actually, I thought I'd heard you subtract HALF the fiber, so if it's 10 grams of fiber, subtract 5.

2009-02-21 16:04:29 -0600 Report

it's controversial I guess. Each dietician will tell you different so use your own judgement on this.

rbergman 2009-02-21 16:52:36 -0600 Report

Yes this is what I tried to explain earlier, some tell you 1/2 the fiber grams can be subtracted, some say all the fiber grams can be subtracted from the total carb grams. You would think they would all follow the same rules but apparently not.

RoyceTX 2009-02-21 12:10:23 -0600 Report

What are sugar alcohols? I count carbs to tell my pump how much insulin it needs to calculate for me. I usually stay between 100 and 145, but occasionally go way low or way high for inexplicable reasons. My question is how to figure carbs in protien, like last nights 12 oz. steak.

2009-02-21 12:22:13 -0600 Report

There are no carbs in protein foods like steak, chicken etc unless they are breaded.

Sugar alcohols come from artificial sweetners.
In commercial foodstuffs sugar alcohols are commonly used in place of table sugar (sucrose), often in combination with high intensity artificial sweeteners to counter the low sweetness. Sugar alcohols do not contribute to tooth decay.

Common ones:
* Glycol (2-carbon)
* Glycerol (3-carbon)
* Erythritol (4-carbon)
* Threitol ( " )

* Arabitol (5-carbon)
* Xylitol ( " )
* Ribitol ( " )

* Mannitol (6-carbon)
* Sorbitol ( " )
* Dulcitol ( " )
* Iditol ( " )

* Isomalt
* Maltitol
* Lactitol
* Polyglycitol

Cindy G
Cindy G 2009-02-21 12:38:45 -0600 Report

You give names of artifical sweetners in techicinal names but what are theyin store bought names? Like equal,sweet and low, etc

kdroberts 2009-02-21 15:37:16 -0600 Report

Those are the store names. They are not technically artificial sweeteners, they are hydrogenated carbohydrates, but are used to sweeten things. Most are not actually that sweet so have to be supplemented with regular artificial sweeteners like splenda or whatnot. I think you can buy powdered xylitol in some stores but most are not easy to find and are bought in bulk by food producers.

kdroberts 2009-02-21 19:11:52 -0600 Report

My personal opinion is they are all bad. They are chemically engineered carbohydrates that don't get digested normally. I don't like them and try to avoid them when I can. Maybe I'm wrong but the basic process is not unlike hydrogenated fats and trans fats which were thought to be fine but now, not so much. I could see a few years down the line sugar alcohols getting all the bad press that those types of fat does. The things I use them in on a regular basis are tooth paste and mouthwash, both of which I don't swallow.

2009-02-21 11:37:55 -0600 Report

These discussions are really helpful and important to me. Does anyone know why I only see them 6 or 7 days after they have begun?

rbergman 2009-02-21 16:44:45 -0600 Report

Sometimes they end up going to the 2nd or 3rd page of "most recent" posts, I too have trouble weeding out the more important posts from the " not so diabetic related" posts, its a hassle sometimes but you can find them if you dig through the pages.

kdroberts 2009-02-19 10:25:24 -0600 Report

The thing about sugar alcohols is that it's not as easy as just using half. Each person reacts differently to them in terms of blood sugar and side effects. Some people can eat as many as they want, have no problems and no noticeable effect on blood sugar, some people can eat a few and be in the bathroom all day with blood sugar higher than if they had eaten sugar.

The thing about fiber is also that it's not that easy to work out and it all stems from the US governments inability to put standards high enough on the measuring and labeling of nutritional information. Most other countries actually measure the amount of fiber and list it in its own section, the US does not. It measures what's left over after all the other things have been measured and then lumps it into the carbohydrate section. This leads to the problem that the fiber measured is not really an accurate measurement which is compounded by the ability for manufacturers to round up or down. So that 4g of fiber may actually only be measured at 3.5g and of that only 2 or 3g may actually be fiber. Not much on it's own but it does add up. This is why there is so much conflicting advice about what to do with fiber. Until the labeling and measuring regulations are changed it makes things needlessly complicated and bad for the consumer.

2009-02-19 11:47:26 -0600 Report

That's right. Which is why I stick to whole foods as much as possible because 'an apple is still an apple' and no matter where you look an apple has the same amount of fiber for it's size!! Packaged, processed foods are the problem. Chemicals, nutrition removed, and the list goes on. I still eat the same foods we all love, just make them myself. I know not everyone can do this for every meal but at least everyone can keep their snacks whole.. fruit and a string cheese or a few nuts, vegetables and a homemade dip, keep it simple and life will reward you. I don't eat the sugar alcohols much so I don't worry about it.

dj7110 2009-02-19 08:15:15 -0600 Report

this is new to me also.. but unsure if I want to try this just yet. taking my insulin according to the carbs I eat and my b/s still runs on the high side (avg-180 to 200).. So not ready to take less insulin than I do. David

rbergman 2009-02-19 10:03:41 -0600 Report

Your numbers run like mine do if I get one under 175 I'm lucky, I did start counting carbs along side my daughter and it has helped I'm getting lower number but not a drastic change, its more a matter of eating the right foods then it is cutting back, the fiber subtraction does look like it will help on 2 levels, fiber makes you feel fuller longer so the constant hungriness isn't there as bad and by adding fiber grams you can subtract a little from your total carb gram intake, allowing to eat a little more to still stay within the carb gram range, we are staying between 125-150g per day. It is working for Laura along with her Metformin to keep her levels down and to lose weight, but not as well for me, which is okay for the most part to know its helping her maintain a healthier life, probably going to take longer for me since I've been doing it wrong for so long. It is easier to tell her this is how it is then it is to have self-control for myself but I'll get there slowly but surely.

rbergman 2009-02-18 21:21:59 -0600 Report

Judy, remember when you told me not all dietitians agree with certain ways of counting things, well at Laura's first class today, the dietitian addressed carbs, said we were doing just fine as far as carb counting, however she disagree's with subtracting all the fiber grams from the carb grams, she said only subtract 1/2 so…if it is 10g of fiber you only subtract 5g from you carb grams, not the whole 10, same with sugar alcohol if sugar alcohol is 10g subtract 5g from you carb grams. She also explained the GI so that I understand it better and when to use it and how, so, just as no 2 doctors are alike neither are dietitians I suppose, either way, subtracting even 1/2 the grams for fiber content is better than not being able to subtract any I suppose.
She commended us on what we learned ourselves (thanks to everyone here who helped teach us what we didn't know). And we have 1 more class the same day Laura has her next check-up with the Ped Endo, not until March 20th, but she said she would teach us a few other tricks to help Laura feel full but not over eat or go over on her carbs, (besides adding more fiber). She did say add fiber a little at a time or the tummy issues she already has with the metformin dosage adjustment would get worse if she got too much fiber at one time.
Laura got to play with all the "rubber" food samples and build meals for herself today too which I think helped her understand a little better then just being given a plate and being told this is all the food you can have. We had been having her help make her plate at times but she was always getting frustrated. Another trick they taught us was instead of using your standard size plate, use the medium size one, then the portions don't look so small because the plate is smaller, she showed Laura that today too and Laura thought she was getting more food that way…that may work for now but not when she gets a little older and realizes its the plate size not the portion size, lol but maybe by then she'll feel better about the whole thing.
When she was weighed on Feb 6 at this same office she was 106.9 lbs today on the same scale she was 102.3 (WOOHOO) she has about 15lbs to go for ideal weight for her height but it is a start!

2009-02-18 22:24:40 -0600 Report

I figured there would be something that the dietician would disagree about… LOL They can't let you be right about everything. I've ALWAYS been told that if the fiber gms is more than 5 gms (which is what I said in the first place ) you can subtract them ALL but they all have their own opinions so you better learn it their way or they'll be mad at you. Maybe they don't eat enough soybeans there or something. LOL I'm glad it went well for all of you. Tell Laura that using a small plate is chic!!! I still use one and I'm 51 years old


rbergman 2009-02-19 08:01:44 -0600 Report

She was also against her eating school food vs. us making her breakfast and lunch to take everyday but I explained to her that the school nurse and I figure out what she can and can't have or what has to be cut down with the school menu and obviously it was working otherwise she wouldn't be losing weight and staying within her carb gram range. Also the fact that we'd like her to feel as "normal" as possible. She still didn't like it but I still feel as long as what we do works why change it.

John Crowley
John CrowleyCA 2009-02-24 18:15:11 -0600 Report

Thanks for sharing this. That is really good feedback on the fiber issue. It makes sense to me why to subtract the fiber, but we were never taught to do that in the beginning and it has always seemed about right to count it in with the total carbs.

But maybe the idea of subtracting half is something we could try.

sha49tn 2009-02-28 15:13:20 -0600 Report

You can also deduct sugar alcohols from the total carbs. I'm new at the diabetes thing, but from doing low carb diets, I've learned how to count them. Not all drs or dieticians agree on things, but I figure you use what works for YOU, & not for them. The nurse at my dr told me 1800 calories a day, & 209 carbs. That sounds like an awful lot to me. And, the diet they gave me to follow is totally confusing. Anybody know where to find a specific diet, that doesn't involve exchanges, & all that?

rbergman 2009-02-28 16:32:26 -0600 Report

This is the way I learned to count carbs recently. Don't worry so much about the exchange, and count the carb grams. most pre-packaged foods have the carb grams listed on the package. Meats contain no carb grams unless its cured like bacon and ham. Rule of thumb is 15 carb grams is equal to 1 carb count. So I am assuming your 209 carb diet is carb grams not actual carbs, otherwise that would equal out to over 3000g per day. That being said, we were also taught how to count non-packaged foods that don't give a carb gram amount.
Take meatloaf as an example, the hamburger is 0g the egg is less than 1 so call it 0g, spices are free, so the main carb grams come from the crackers and the ketchup. When you mix it all together figure the carb grams for the crackers and the ketchup, lets say for example 20 crackers (each 5 =15g so 60g) and 1/2 C of ketchup = 64g (1tbls= 4g, and there are 16tbls in 1/2 C) so that gives you 124g of carbs for the meatloaf, if you cut it into say 10 equal size slices (as close to equal as possible) you divide the 124g by the 10 slices (or however many slices you get) to get the total carb grams in 1 slice, so in this example if you get 10 slices your total carb grams for 1 slice is 12.4 so we call it 12g.
The same can be done for spaghetti and such too. They also gave us a small booklet at the dietitian's office that shows other ways of figuring carb grams. Its a carb counting and meal planning guide put out by Novo Nordisk.

sha49tn 2009-02-28 19:02:18 -0600 Report

Thanks for the info. The book they gave me is pretty easy to read, except for the exchanging part. And, like I said, I thought 209 sounded like an awful lot, if they mean grams. Diabetes runs in my family, so if I'm not full diabetic now, I eventually will probably be. Of course, it doesn't hurt to eat healthy any way!!

Janice5208 2009-02-17 00:23:31 -0600 Report

thanks,all this time I have been subtracting the whole number of the alcohols from the carbs,thanks for explaining

rbergman 2009-02-15 09:49:33 -0600 Report

Gee thanks Judy, just when I thought I knew what I was doing counting carbs lol, back to the drawing board, great information though as always! I keep telling myself day by day it will get easier and I'm sure it will I'm just not so patient lol

2009-02-14 23:52:13 -0600 Report

You know, this is the first time I've seen sugar alcohols addressed. Thanks for posting this!