Formula for counting carbs

Written by laura rupert garcia
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Low-carbohydrate diets remain a popular way to lose weight. However, new dieters often are confused about the role carbs play in their diet and how to determine how many they have eaten. Fortunately, the formula for counting carbs is easy and straightforward. Once you learn how to use the formula, it becomes second nature to check the labels of foods and mentally calculate the net carb counts to determine how much you can eat.

Carbs Per Serving

The amount of carbs per serving is an important part of the carb counting formula. In many packaged foods, the serving size is denoted on the package (sometimes one package has multiple servings) as well as the nutritional information. The formula for counting carbs requires the actual number of carbs per serving, not the percentage of daily carbs.


The amount of fibre per serving should be subtracted from the amount of carbs per serving in the carb-counting formula. If a piece of whole wheat bread has 13g carbs per slice and 5g fibre per slice, the net carb amount is 8 carbs. The net carb amount is how many carbs your body recognises. Since fibre counteracts carbohydrates, you simply deduct the fibre from the carbs.

Sugar Alcohols

Foods with sugar substitutes frequently have sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, in them. The sugar alcohols may be subtracted from the overall carb count, too. A popular low-carb chocolate bar has 15g total carbs, 2g fibre and 12g sugar alcohols. Its total net carb count after using the low-carb formula is only 1 carb.

Portion Size

When you are making low-carb snacks at home, keep the portion size in mind. It's easy to calculate the net carbs in prepackaged foods, but in foods you make at home, it may be more difficult. The easiest way to calculate carbs in home-cooked foods is to come up with the total amount of carbs in each item and then determine what size portions make the food acceptable on a low-carb diet. For example, a low-carb salad might have 25 total net carbs, but when served in five servings, there are only 5 carbs each.

Total Daily Carb Count

The carb counting formula only works if you actually stay within your total daily amount of allowed carbs. Each time you calculate how many carbs are in a food, jot it down on a piece of paper, record it in a spreadsheet or just remember it. Some low-carb dieters stay below 30g of carbohydrates per day, while others aim for fewer than 60. Regardless of how many carbs you are allowed to eat on your diet, you must keep track of your daily count to ensure you stay on target.

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