How Should I Count Carbs from Food Labels in the UK?
Does it matter where the food is from?
The short answer is yes. There are differences between how nutritional information is displayed in the US and in the UK and given the size of the keto product industry in the US, blogs and guides often use the US way of calculating Carbs. This blog post will hopefully make things easier to understand. Let us know if you have any questions! At our Low Carb and Keto Bakery, we are trying our best to answer the questions that most newbies to keto might have.
When you are counting carbs, it makes sense to look out for hints and tips from online communities and other online sources so that your food planning becomes as streamlined as possible. Unfortunately, many keto guides are written with the US market in mind, making it a challenge for anyone following a Keto or Low carb diet plan. In fact, we find it is one of the most frequently asked questions we get when people are just starting on their low carb and keto journey.
Counting carbs is one of the main areas in which people hit a wall and one will likely become a keen reader of food labels.
So lets talk about
How to Read Food Labels in the UK when on Keto
Typically because the food labels in the US are different to the UK. To help, we have shared the key things you need to know when counting carbs in the UK.
Luckily, the UK food labelling system is easy to read with each item listed and the total grams per 100g and sometimes the ’per portion’ available for you to see. When it comes to carbs, you can expect to see ‘carbohydrates’ with a total amount that you can then use in your tracking with a few adjustments.
In the US, fibre is included in the carbs section, and so US consumers have to deduct the total fibre from the carbs to get a net amount of carbs to track. Sounds simple? It is, but it also causes significant confusion. In reality, it is the reason why many people do not experience the weight loss they’d hoped for because they end up underestimating their daily Carb Count.
Many UK consumers will read US material and then find themselves believing that they need to deduct the total fibre from the carbs before tracking. This is not the case! So, the next time you pick up a food item in the UK remember that the carbs on the label are the amount that you need to track. Should you be eating US food, you will need to deduct the amount of fibre from the total carbs to get your net amount to add to your carb tracking. Fortunately, the UK market for Keto is growing exponentially, and so there is less need to import things from the US just to follow the ketogenic diet.
Example of a Keto Product
As you can see the US version does not minus the fibre from the carbohydrate option, making it confusing for UK keto’ers to correctly track their carb intake without first understanding the two different systems.
In this example the Net Carb figure is the exact same in both cases however note the difference the Carbohydrate figure. Here in the UK, the carb figure does not include fibre of 2g. So it would be a mistake to deduct an extra 2g from the carbohydrate figure to represent the 2g of fibre.
How did we (The No Guilt Bakers) navigate the Carb Counting minefield?
Interestingly, when Maya started with Keto, her focus was just to eat food with low carb counts like eggs, whereas Taeya lost the majority of her weight through very strict carb counting. The lesson in this is that there is no reason to become overwhelmed and stressed out if one way doesn't work for you. There are many ways of adopting the low carb and keto lifestyle and we are here to help you navigate this new way of eating. Over the coming months, we will be sharing lots of information to help you understand some of the foods you can eat and what to do with them to enjoy a diet that is varied and even includes some sweet treats (shameless plug for No Guilt Bakes!) - We will tell you the net carbs in every product we make so you don't have to do the maths as well.
It is clear that there is a wealth of information both from the US and the UK that will help anyone undertaking the Keto diet. However, you need to be mindful of the different food labels from each country and factor this in when you are reading recipes and tracking information that you find.
We've included below a short and sweet animation that we had made to highlight the most important parts of this article.
Written by Taeya Abdel-Majeed