The number of total carbohydrates in a product includes both sugar and fiber. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake in general, knowing what proportion of your carbohydrate intake is sugar allows you to track how you’re doing and adjust your eating habits, if necessary. The nutrition label on a product contains the numbers you need to perform some simple math to get your answer.
Step 1
Read the nutrition label and find the lines for the total carbohydrates and sugars. The total carbohydrates will have both a percentage and a number in grams. Use the number in grams for this. For example, a label lists 35 grams total carbohydrates and underneath it on the line marked “Sugars,” it lists 8 grams of sugar.
Step 2
Divide the number of grams of sugars by the number of grams from the total carbohydrates line. For this sample label, you would divide 8 by 35 to get 0.228.
Step 3
Move the decimal point two spaces to the right or multiply by 100, if you prefer using an equation, to get you the percent form of the number. Using the 0.228 from Step 2, 22.8 percent of the total carbohydrates are sugar.
Let’s take a look at a typical reading for carbohydrates that you see on a nutrition label. It looks like this:
Total Carbohydrate 15 g
Dietary Fiber 5 g
Sugars 10 g
Most carbohydrates contain sugars and fiber, which is why there are separate counts for them on a label. Fiber is not digestible and does not really affect blood sugar, so for dieting purposes you do not need to count fiber.
The sugar count is on a label just to let you know how much sugar is in the food, but carbohydrates mainly consist of sugar, so the only variable here is fiber.
To answer your question, you do not need to subtract the sugar count, subtract fiber instead. So in the example above, you take the total carbohydrate count and subtract the amount of fiber, i.e., 15 g – 5 g = 10 grams of carbs.
