Seven tips for “low-carb’ food shopping from

Saturday,June 7, 2014 @ 05:01

(PRWEB) February 12, 2004

Low-carb foods are spendy, trendy, and tricky. In fact, “low-carb” is not what it seems. Benefits these foods might offer for weight loss or nutrition are debatable, at best. Hundreds of newly available “low-carb” foods may actually make weight loss more difficult. Dieters are falling into the trap of thinking that eating “low-carb” foods will automatically cause pounds to drop off.

1. You may conclude, logically enough, that a food lower in carbs is also lower in calories. If you replace carbohydrates with protein (that’s the main change), you still have just as many calories, if not more.

2. You may also conclude that “low-carb” claims must be true and meaningful. In reality, labels are, essentially, misleading. The FDA has no definition of “low-carbohydrate” and has never approved any “low-carb” labels. Any food can be so labeled. Food companies – not nutrition experts or government sources – have generated terms like “net carb” or “effective carb” to promote new products.

3. These products often have nearly as many carbs as conventional products, however, the labels disguise this fact with several tricks. Most often carbs, are actually separated into two listings resulting in a lower “carbohydrate” number, labeled as “effective carbs” or “net impact carbs.” Fiber, for instance, does not affect blood sugar the way other carbs do, so “low-carb” manufacturers do not count it. If a food has 10 grams of carbs, but 6 grams are fiber, the manufacturer simply subtracts the 6 and claims only 4 “net impact” carbs.

4. How do companies reduce the carbs in various foods? They replace refined wheat flour with soy flour (higher in protein), soy, or wheat protein, or corn starch, add extra fiber, such as wheat bran or oat bran, and add high-fat ingredients. Finally, they replace sugar with sugar alcohols (maltitol, lactitol, or sorbitol) or artificial sweeteners.

These changes are not necessarily unhealthy, but these products end up having nearly the same caloric impact as their regular counterparts. Protein has as many calories as carbs, and fat has more than twice as many calories as carbs.

5. Sugar alcohol, which is a key ingredient in “low-carb” baked goods, can act like a laxative. If you eat a lot of “low-carb” foods, stay close to the bathroom and be prepared for some stomach aches.

6. Sugar alcohols do have carbs – approx. 1/2 to 3/4 the calories of regular sugar. The body will use these as fuel, or store them as fat, just as it does with standard carbohydrates.

7. Don’t be fooled by “low-carb” foods. There’s no evidence they will help you lose weight. They are not significantly more nutritious or less caloric than many conventional foods, and they eat up food dollars better spent on good healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. As is true of most “trendy” foods, “low-carb’ foods are twice as expensive than conventional foods. This just increases the odds of another short-lived, disappointing, expensive, weight-loss adventure. is a weight loss members-only subscription web site. It is a privately-held company, based in Eugene, Oregon, and can be reached at 877-858-3775. For more information, visit

Michael Huddleston, President/Publisher


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