Reading nutritional labels was something we had no idea about when we started. We didn’t even realise there was a difference between Australian labels and US labels. Hopefully this guide will help you understand it all easily.
Reading nutritional labels
Hands up if you struggled to figure out the whole total carbs and net carbs thing when you first started? I know we did. The most confusing thing for me was we were reading a lot of information from the US and their labels are different to ours in Australia, mainly how they show fibre.
Total carbs v Net carbs
If you have been around keto for any longer than about 5 minutes I am sure you have heard the terms total carbs and net carbs. Total carbs is what it sounds like, you add up all the carbs you have eaten in a day, including the fibre, and that will be your total carb intake for the day. Net carbs is calculated by subtracting the fibre from the total carbs and this is where your head might start to spin.
Why would you want to subtract the fibre from the carbs? The main reason for this is vegetables. Vegetables have some carbs, but they also have fibre. There is some debate in the keto community around carbs in vegetables.
I have seen some people that don’t count the carbs in vegetables at all, because they see value in consuming vegetables for the health benefits and then others that are zero carb because of the health benefits. It is up to you as to whether you want to aim for total carbs or net carbs.
If you would like more information around what keto would work best for you, check out our Keto beginners guide.
If you decide to calculate net carbs you need to be aware of the type of label you are reading and how you calculate them. Even if you decide to work off the total carb principle, it will be really important to understand the label you are reading correctly, otherwise you may be accidentally working with net carbs without realising.
If you are still deciding what tracking app you want to use for tracking your carbs check out Keto Approaches part 3
Reading nutritional labels – US
As you can see in the picture below the USA label has the dietary fibre indented under the total carbohydrates. Therefore, if you are calculating total carbs per serve it is 28g. If you are calculating net carbs per serve it is 28g – 16.2g (the fiber) = 11.8g.
Reading nutritional labels – Australian/UK/NZ
Looking at the same picture above you can see the difference with the Australian label is that the dietary fibre is NOT indented under the carbohydrates, like the sugars and starches are.
Whenever you see a label where the dietary fibre is not indented it is really important to note that the carbohydrate amount is already showing as net carbs. Total carbs on the Australian label is 11.8g + 16.2g (the fiber) = 28g total carbs. Net carbs is the carbohydrate amount already displayed 11.8g.
Once you are aware of the difference it is pretty easy to identify and calculate your carbs correctly. We hope you find this information useful with navigating your low carb lifestyle.
Please let us know in the comments if you have any further questions regarding reading the nutritional labels.
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