Ways & How

How to Measure Carbohydrates in Food

How to Measure Carbohydrates in Food

Dieters, diabetic patients, or simply those who want to start eating healthier may want to determine the amount of carbohydrates in their food. Various studies have shown that focusing on controlling carbohydrate intake is an effective way to eat fewer calories and eventually lose weight. Are you ready to get started? The handy tips below show you how to measure carbohydrates in food and get on the right track to eating healthier.

  1. Get measuring equipment. For precise measurements, you need equipment to measure food weight and volume. A gram scale is excellent, while measuring cups and spoons are good for volume. Which of these is appropriate depends on the available information for each particular food. If you’re using food labels, for example, some may only list one type.

  2. Read the labels, which provide the easiest way to measure carbohydrate content. Most list the total carbohydrates per serving. If you eat the amount recommended as a serving size, just check the figure for the corresponding amount of carbohydrates per serving.

    If your portion is different from the serving size, simply weigh the amount of food you intend to consume, then compute the amount of carbohydrates present in that portion. For example, if you intend to eat 50 grams of cereal, and it contains 15 grams of carbs per serving or 100 grams, then you would divide your portion size by the serving size, then multiply it by the number of carbs per serving. In other words, 50 divided 100 times 15, which equals 7.5 grams. Make sure you use the same measurements in your calculations.

  3. Refer to books, software, or online databases. This comes in handy when preparing meals at home or eating in restaurants. Look for reliable nutrition books and software to help you determine the amount of carbohydrates in commonly served and prepared foods. Usually, they provide information for serving sizes, so all you have to do is determine the size of your portion, then compute accordingly like in step 2. Some cookbooks may also be helpful, particularly those that provide nutritional information along with recipes.

  4. Look for a reliable food database that contains a list of nutritional values, including the amount of carbs. It is useful for foods without labels, food items that don’t come with complete packaging, bulk items, and loose foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Luckily, a lot of websites, dieting apps, and free online food resources provide this information. Compute the total carbs using the equation detailed in step 2.

  5. For liquids that do not have labels on their packaging, you have to refer to a database again, which helps you determine the amount of carbs in grams based on the volume measurement of the liquid. After finding the volume of the liquid, look up its carbohydrate content, and use the equation in step 2.

  6. Establish an estimation system. Situations may arise when it may not be appropriate to whip out your measuring tools and calculator, such as when eating out or at a party. These are times when a good estimation system comes in handy. A visual estimation of each of the food’s weight or size is necessary so that you can look up its carb percentage later. Visual estimates that compare food portions to common items are also very useful. For example, the American Heart Association proposes the following estimates from their article “What is a serving”:

  7. a. A single serving of rice, pasta, or cooked cereal is around half the size of a baseball.

  8. b. A serving of most lean meats is about three ounces, a size similar to a deck of cards or a computer mouse.

  9. c. A serving of leafy green veggies is about the size of a small fist.

  10. d. A single serving of milk and yogurt or a piece of medium fruit is usually the size of a baseball.

Tallying carbs isn’t as complicated as you think. A dependable database of carbohydrate values, plus a calculator and weighing equipment, together with these simple tips on how to measure carbohydrates in food, easily gets you started on your count to a better diet.


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