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How Do I Choose the Best Carbohydrate Counter?

Maintaining a food journal is a great way to track what foods you're eating.
Potatoes are high in carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates provide the body with energy.
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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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Whether you are trying to control your blood sugar because of concerns about diabetes, or are simply following a low carbohydrate diet, a carbohydrate counter is an essential tool. These diet aids provide the carbohydrate gram count for most foods. The best carbohydrate counters include information about the fiber content of foods, as well as any sugar alcohols, both of which can be deducted from the total carbohydrate count on many low-carb diets. Another consideration is the carbohydrate counter's medium. Books containing carbohydrate counts, portable devices, and online options all exist, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

Choosing the best carbohydrate counter involves figuring out specific needs and uses of it. Some counters come in book forms, others are available online only and many can be opened on a portable electronic reader. It is also important to consider the scope of the counter's database. For those who have specialty diets that include hard-to-find ingredients, a common counter might not include information on them. Find one that caters to that specific diet.

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There are several books on the market that provide carbohydrate counts for many common, and not-so-common, foods. Some of these books offer comprehensive nutrition data on foods, and include things such as calorie counts, protein and fat grams, plus additional nutritional information. Other books focus on carbohydrates, making them less bulky and much easier to carry. The portability of any carbohydrate counter is always a plus when using the counter while dining out or grocery shopping. Some of these books are also now available in e-book form.

Several free, and paid, online services exist that can provide carbohydrate counts. Some of these services operate as food diaries as well. You can simply type in the foods you eat, along with portion size, and the program will keep track of all the carbohydrates you eat in a day. Other online services are strictly informational, and only provide nutrition information without any record-keeping services.

The drawback to online carbohydrate counters is that they are not portable, unless they are available as an application for a cellphone or other handheld device. Another option is a handheld food calculator. These systems provide the advantages of both printed and online carbohydrate counters in one small, portable device that is dedicated to keeping track of your nutrition intake.

In selecting a carbohydrate counter, it is very important to check to see if it includes common prepared foods and low carbohydrate products in its listings. If it doesn't, be sure that a calculator or online program gives you the option of adding custom foods. Many dieters rely on low-carb versions of common prepared foods and snacks. These items need to be counted in the dieter's food journal, but may not automatically be included in a carbohydrate counter's program. By allowing you to add foods, the counter of your choosing will enable you to truly keep track of the carbs you eat.

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