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HIDDEN CARBS: Find ‘Em, Count ‘Em!

HIDDEN CARBS: Find ‘Em, Count ‘Em!

 If you don’t know about hidden carbs and want to make the most of your low-carb lifestyle, you really MUST learn how to find and avoid common hidden carbs in the foods you thought were “free” . (Not much in this life is *really* free – is it?) I compiled this list originally way back in the year 2000 and still find it useful.

Sometimes a label states 0 carbs per serving when there are actually quite a few carbs in a “real” size serving of the food! As a dedicated low carb eater, make it your business to KNOW whether a label is correct as written, or not. You won’t believe how often the answer is NOT.

For example:

Heavy Whipping Cream per the Manufacturer’s Label:

Serving = 1 Tablespoon

60 calories

6 grams of fat

0 grams of protein

0 gram of carbohydrate

Now, Fat is 9 calories per gram, protein is 4 calories per gram and carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram. Therefore your numbers would look like this:

6 x 9 = 54 calories

0 x 4 = 0 calories

0 x 4 = 0 calories

Total: 54 calories

As you can see, there are 6 calories unaccounted for. It’s unknown what they are from, but it’s a good chance those extra calories are from hidden carbs. Therefore the carb count could be up to 1.5 instead of 0. It can really add up when you eat 1 cup of this stuff in a recipe! Actual carb count for 1 cup heavy whipping cream at 38% butterfat is 6.6 carbs, or .41 per Tb. Because it is less than .5 carbs per serving, the manufacturers are allowed to round it down to 0 when it is obviously NOT 0.

So, for ANYTHING that says it has 0 carbs, check the calories and add up the fat and protein. If there are calories left over and there is sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose or any other ose (except for sucralose or cellulose gum) in the ingredients, it is in all likelihood a hidden carb. It is safest to assume that it is a carb, anyway, if you are resistant to loss and must be scrupulous about your every carb, as I must be.

 *** THE SUGAR ALCOHOL EXCEPTION – Sugar alcohols are not counted like other carbohydrates. The individual manufacturer’s are permitted under current FDA rulings to determine nutritional information for these sweeteners. Most do NOT have 4 calories per gram, some have only 2. Most low carb diet plans permit you to subtract these carbs from your daily count and manufacturers used to routinely omit them from the labels (that is changing now, thanks to the new label guidelines). A word of warning: In my experience, sugar alcohol carbs seem to cause people the most problems with stalls and gaining – I suggest you use these products with caution during active weight loss and omit them entirely during induction. They are a great occasional treat, and used in moderation, can make maintenance a real pleasure. But they play havoc with the formula above and they can play havoc with weight loss as well!

Some Common Hidden Carbs:

Eggs: 0.6 grams per egg

Spices: for example, onion and garlic powders = 2 carbs PER TEASPOON, according to Lifeform. Label states one serving = .5 tsp, for 0 carbs. According to the USDA, garlic powder has 2.036 carbs per tsp less .277 gms. fiber and onion powder has 1.694 carbs per tsp. less .12 gms. fiber. (Lifeform rounds things off, too, and so counts both of these at 2 carbs.)

Artificial sweeteners: Packets say zero, but they are actually 0.9 grams (almost 1 *each*). This applies to Splenda too, which has 24 carbs per cup of the granular. For a truly net-carb-free sweetener, try my secret weapon,Fiberfit.

Mayonnaise: go for the one that lists sugar as far down the list of ingredients as possible. Better yet, make your own – it’s surprisingly easy.

Flavorings/Extracts: your guess is as good as mine as far as these go since they report them all as zero, but many of them are mostly alcohol, so beware if you use a lot and are stalled.

Coffee: 0.8 grams per 6 ounce cup. Note that an average coffee mug HOLDS 9-12 oz. and I personally thrive with caffeine.

Crystal Light, SF Kool-Aid and SF Tang (dry mixes): 5 calories per 8 ounces equals 1.25 grams of carbohydrates (the label says zero!). 2 quarts = 10 grams! *Pre-mixed Crystal Light is made with acefulsame-K and sucralose, and as far as I know, there are no hidden carbs in it. However, the citric acid may be of concern for other reasons (see above).


Have Questions on an ingredient? Check my INGREDIENT GUIDE. If you have still not tried FIBERFIT .... why on Earth not? You will love it - No matter WHAT diet you are on.

Pssst! If you're enjoying the fruits of my labors from the last 18! years, plus the total absence of intrusive ads on this site, please feel free to buy me a Miller Lite. Or a muscle car. Your choice, totally.


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