Have Butter Will Travel have put together an easy to understand blog about reading nutritional labels and also the differences between Australian and US labelling. Be sure to also check out their website at www.havebutterwilltravel.com regarding all things Low carb, recipes and travel.
When we first started our ketogenic lifestyle, we read as much information as we could about the hows and whys. A lot of the information we were consuming was from the U.S and for a period of time we had no idea that Australian nutritional labels are written differently than the labels in the U.S. Confusing, right? As if understanding the whole total carbs versus net carbs thing wasn’t a hard enough concept to grasp already. After researching some more we realised that the fibre is displayed differently and that this can affect the way you are calculating your carbs.
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 counting the carbs in vegetables. It will
depend on your personal sensitivity to carbs and you may want to do some further
research into this.
The easiest way to track your carbs and other macros is with a macro calculator.
There are many different calculators out there including My Fitness Pal and
Chronometer. These apps allow you to enter the food you have consumed in a day
and record your macros for you. Be aware that they can also be inaccurate at times, so always check against the label of the item you have entered. They also have a scan function so you can scan the barcode of the food you are entering and it loads the information from that. In the past, we have found this a much easier way to do it. 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
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 fibre) =
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 fibre) = 28g total carbs. Net carbs is the carbohydrate amount already displayed 11.8g.
Once you are aware that there is a difference between the two labels and how you
actually interpret the carb amount on the label it is pretty easy to manage.
Thankfully calculating the other macros is much less confusing. Fat and protein are
displayed the same on all nutritional labels making those calculations very simple.