Reading Food Labels for Carbohydrates

By American Diabetes Association

Part of Managing Type 2 Diabetes For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Food labels are a fabulous resource for finding out how many carbohydrates are in your foods. You can use these labels to compare the carbohydrate content of different products and track the amount of carbohydrate you eat. Reading food labels is a vital skill for anyone who counts carbohydrates. To find the amount of carbohydrates in your foods, follow these steps:

  1. Look for the line that reads “Total Carbohydrate” on the label.

    The value on this line will tell you how many grams of carbohydrates are in one serving of the food.

  2. Check the number of servings per container to see if your package has one or more servings.
  3. Check the serving size of the food to determine how many servings you plan to eat.
  4. Multiply the number of servings you plan to eating by the grams of carbohydrate in the “Total Carbohydrate” line to determine how many grams of carbohydrate you will be eating.

Some people with diabetes who are counting carbohydrates can subtract the grams of Dietary Fiber — listed under Total Carbohydrate on the food label — from the grams of Total Carbohydrate because dietary fiber has a minimal impact on blood glucose. Ask your dietitian or diabetes care provider if subtracting the fiber from the total carbohydrate grams is necessary or appropriate for you.