When starting out on the low carb way of life there is a lot of confusion about carbohyrdrate levels and how to measure them. I hope that the following information will help clarify the issues for those living in the UK.
Carbohydrates in Labelled Food
Food regulations in the UK mean that all manufactured foods are labelled with their contents, calories and the breakdown of these into protein, carbohydrate, and fat, usually per 100g.
Some labels give the amount of carbohydrate that comes from sugar whilst others break the fat down into saturated, mono-saturated and polysaturated. Labels may also contain a value for fibre and sodium.
A typical label looks like this:
Typical Values per 100g
Energy - kcal
.......of which sugars
.......... of which saturates
The amount of carbohydrate given on the label is the effective carbohydrate content (ECC) of the food per 100g. The fibre value on the label is not connected to the carbohydrate value and therefore, unlike in the US, should not be deducted from the carbohydrate value. What you see on the label for carbohydrate is what you get.
Carbohydrates in Fresh Produce
Many fresh vegetables and fruit are not labelled and so information on their carbohydrate content is not readily available. I have found that the best source of this information is the supermarket online shopping websites. You do need to register, but you can find the information without having to order food. Links are given for:
Again, the carbohydrate value given is the ECC, so do not deduct the fibre value.
Fitday and Using it to Keep Track of Your Carbs and Calories
is a very useful tool for keeping track of all the food you eat each day. It gives you a breakdown of the calories, carbs, fat, and protein you eat. You can also track your weight changes and how much additional exercise you do. It is a US site and therefore the food imbedded in the software is in ounces or cups.
When the software calculates your daily carbohydrate intake it gives you a total figure and then a figure for fibre. To get the ECC you do need to subtract the fibre grams from the carbohydrate grams. In the calculation of % carbs this is done automatically by the software.
Customising Fitday with UK Food Items
Fitday allows you to add your own items of food into its data banks. When you click on New Custom Food!
you will be given a table to fill in. Make sure you get the food name and quantity size right as these can not be edited later.
Fill in the values for 100 g as given on the food labels, with the exception of the fibre value. Do not put the fibre value in the fibre slot as this has already been removed from the carbohydrate value you are entering.
If you are cooking a recipe then you can use Fitday to add up all your ingedients and then add the total values into a new custom food.
There is some general advice on using Fitday in this thread
in the newbies' questions forum.
I hope this covers everything. If you have any questions, or think I have missed something then let me know so that I can update this post.