How to Count Carbs on a Low-Carb Diet Using Labels

How to Count Carbs on a Low-Carb Diet Using Labels

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Carbohydrates are an essential part of your healthy diet.

Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you're following a low-carb diet, you already know how important it is to keep track of how many carbs you consume. A low-carb diet can help you shed excess pounds or help you maintain your current weight. According to the American Diabetes Association, counting carbs is also a way to monitor your blood glucose levels if you have diabetes. Having a system in place to keep track of the carbs you've eaten is a smart way to monitor your diet and record what you've eaten so you don't go overboard.


Choose a target number for your carb intake. Having a target number will help you monitor and count your total carb intake for the day. For example, some low-carb diets limit total daily carb intake to as little as 10 percent of your total caloric intake. Other diets might allow as much as 35 percent of your caloric intake. Talk to your doctor about how many carbs you need to maintain your health and how little you can consume to help you lose weight.


Look at the nutrition label for each food you're planning to eat. Toward the middle of the nutrition label, it will tell you how many carbs are in one serving of the food.


Write down that number on a piece of paper. Be sure to calculate how many servings you've consumed. For example, if you've had two servings but only record one, your carb count won't be accurate.


Continue writing down all of the carbs you've eaten throughout the entire day.


Tally your total carb intake by adding the numbers you've recorded to get one grand total. Use a calculator if necessary to help to add. Write down this grand total so you have one number to represent your carb intake for the whole day.

Things Needed

  • Calculator


  • If you eat foods that don't have nutrition labels, look up their carb count on an online database or in a nutrition book, which are available at most bookstores and libraries.
  • Make your carbohydrates count. If you're following a low-carb diet, aim to make the bulk of your carbohydrates complex. Complex carbohydrates are usually more nutritious and include whole grains and legumes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy sources of carbohydrates, as well.
  • Over time, you'll start to remember the carb count of the foods you eat regularly, so it won't take as long to keep track of how many total carbs you've consumed.


  • If you're following a low-carb diet to lose weight, you should also count calories. Reducing your caloric intake is essential to shedding excess pounds.
  • If you're following a low-carb diet because you have diabetes, work with your doctor to create the most appropriate diet for you.

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