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Old 25-03-2005, 12:38 PM
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Default 'Low-Carb' Labels Create Confusion for People with Diabetes

'Low-Carb' Labels Create Confusion for People with Diabetes

The flood of "low-carbohydrate" foods now appearing on grocery store shelves
and in restaurants may at first glance seem like a dream come true for
someone with diabetes. Less carbohydrate means less effect on blood glucose,

Most of the new low-carbohydrate foods were created as a marketing ploy to
capitalize on the popularity of low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Although
some of the ingredients may have been altered to reduce carbohydrates, most
of these foods are not as low in carbohydrates as the package implies, and
the difference in calories is small. So, overindulging in these low-carb
foods may not help your waistline.

Many food manufacturers have caused a lot of confusion for people with
diabetes by advising consumers to ignore the "Total Carbohydrate" listed on
the food label of low-carbohydrate products and to use the lower amount
listed on the package as "net carbs," "effective carbs" or "impact carbs."
These terms have been created by manufacturers and have not been approved by
the Food and Drug Administration. For example, a popular snack bar contains
22 grams of "Total Carbohydrate" and 220 calories. On the front of the
package it lists "Only 2 grams of Net Carbs." This may seem like a great
snack to the carbohydrate-conscious dieter and an invitation to overindulge.
For the person adjusting insulin based on carbohydrate consumption, it can
cause confusion and inappropriate insulin doses.

Naturally occurring carbohydrates may be replaced by other ingredients that
are higher in protein like soy flour, higher in fat like nuts, or higher in
fiber. Sugar alcohols like sorbitol or mannitol are often used to replace
some of the sugar. Although food manufacturers suggest that sugar alcohols,
fiber and other ingredients like glycerine do not affect blood glucose
levels and therefore should not be counted, that isn't true.

Fiber is not completely digested and absorbed like other carbohydrates.
While the fiber found in cereals provides virtually no calories, the fiber
in fruits and vegetables does provide some. Foods containing fiber will
likely have less effect on your blood glucose levels than other types of
carbohydrates. So, if you are adjusting your insulin based on carbohydrate
counting, you can subtract the grams of dietary fiber from the "Total
Carbohydrate." This is necessary only if you are getting 5 or more grams of
fiber per serving; otherwise the effect is probably not significant.

If you're eating less carbs to try to lose weight, remember that just as
people trying to eat a low-fat diet years ago found out that they could gain
weight by eating too many low-fat or fat-free foods, the same holds true
with eating too many low-carb foods. The truth is that calories do count.

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