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Sunday 8 March 2015

The Low Carb Lifestyle and How to Calculate Carbs

It’s all very well embarking on a low-carb diet, but how do you work out how many carbs are in the food you eat?

When embarking on a healthier approach to eating most people are encouraged and indeed want to and need to cook for themselves as it’s the best way to eat a good diet, but home cooking comes without the handy labels you get on ready-made food complete with their nutritional breakdown.

Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts and fat have few or no carbohydrates, but vegetables and seasonings and ingredients used for thickening stews and sauces do have carbs. If you made a chilli con carne, for example, there would be carbohydrates in that from the onions, tomato sauce and kidney beans.

One easy way to work out carbohydrates in the dishes you make is to use a carb and calorie counting app or website. One example is 'myfitnesspal' where you can enter your recipes and the app will give you a nutritional break-down of what’s in your recipe – calories, carbs, protein content, fibre content and fat content.

If you don’t want to use an online tool, you can also use resources such as the 'Collins Gem Carb Counter' which Eddie and I have found invaluable over the years. Bear in mind, for both ideas you’ll need to be weighing and measuring everything going into your recipe. This may sound a lot of extra work but believe me it isn't and it soon becomes second nature.

It does sound obvious, but many people have recipes and dishes they make where they don’t bother weighing or measuring anything simply because it is a dish they have been making for years. It is easier to use digital scales for their exact measurements and because you can weigh food in bowls or saucepans by setting the scale to nil.

If you have set a daily carbohydrate limit for yourself then it is probably easiest to take that total and divide up your meals. In theory, if you were on a limit of 50-60g, then that equates to roughly 20g a meal, but you might want to stick to very low carbohydrate breakfasts and lunches and keep back a bit more for dinner. And vice versa of course. You need to find a way of eating that you like, that fits in with your life and that you can keep up.

You can find out more about carbohydrate limits in The Diabetes Diet and what limits are suitable for different people, according to their health goals.

You can also see more about an introduction to the low carb lifestyle here

The words for this article are mine, but also included are some from Emma here and some from our low carb diabetic site here
We are all interested in the benefits that living the LCHF lifestyle can and does bring. I do hope you have found this useful, and thanks for reading.

All the best Jan

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