Carbohydrates, or carbs, come in various forms, including sugars, starches and fibers. Your digestive system breaks down most types of carbohydrates into sugar molecules. Because carbohydrates become sugar, you may want to keep track of your carbohydrate intake to help you lose weight or ensure that you are eating no more than the recommended daily amount. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates.
Determine how many carbohydrates you want to eat each day. Some people follow a low-carbohydrate diet and may want to limit their carbohydrates. People with diabetes also have to carefully monitor their carbohydrate intake and should consume no more than 200 grams of carbohydrates per day, according to MedLine Plus.
Review nutritional labels to determine how many carbohydrates are in your favorite foods. Foods such as candy, fruit, soda, vegetables, pasta, bread and other starches all contain carbohydrates.
Go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrient database to determine the carbohydrate count of non-packaged foods. Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and bread may not contain a nutritional label. For example, a medium apple contains 25 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA nutrient database.
Measure your portion sizes to ensure that you are accurately counting your carbohydrates. Check the nutritional labels to determine what a serving size is for the food you want to eat. The nutritional label or the USDA website gives carbohydrates based on a specific serving size. If you eat a larger serving size, you will have to increase the carbohydrates. For instance, a 1-cup serving size of couscous contains 40 grams of carbohydrates. If you are eating 1 1/2 cups, you will be consuming 60 grams of carbohydrates.
Subtract the dietary fiber from your total carbohydrate count. Because fiber passes through your body undigested, it affects your blood sugar differently than other types of carbohydrates. If a serving of food contains 5 grams of fiber or more, subtract half of the grams of dietary fiber from the total carbohydrate count. For instance, a 1-cup serving size of cooked quinoa contains 39.40 carbohydrates and 5.2 grams of dietary fiber. To count the carbohydrates of quinoa, you would divide the fiber by half to get 2.6 grams. Subtract that from 39.40 to get a total carbohydrate count of 36.8.
Track of the carbohydrates you consume. Include condiments and beverages, which can also contain carbohydrates. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains 3.77 grams of carbohydrates. Write down your total carbohydrates for each meal and add them up at the end of the day. For example, if you had a serving of couscous, tilapia and green beans, your total carbohydrates for that meal would be 49 grams. If you also had one can of cola, you would increase your carbohydrate count to 87 grams for that meal.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates -- Good Carbs Guide the Way
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- MedLine Plus: Counting Carbohydrates
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for 09003, Apples, Raw, With Skin
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for 11935, Catsup
- American Diabetes Association: Carbohydrates
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for 20137, Quinoa, Cooked
Ireland Wolfe has been writing professionally since 2009, contributing to Toonari Post, Africana Online and Winzer Insurance. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in mental health counseling. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, registered nutritionist and yoga teacher.