Hidden Carbs in Foods

We all know that low carb diets are excellent ways of losing weight.  By restricting the amount of carbohydrates we eat, the body produces less glucose which in turn means our body burn more fat.  However, whilst we know that we need to avoid breads, pastas, baked goods etc, are we really aware of just how many carbs are found in other foods?  Foods that we consider to be carb free can actually be harboring a lot of hidden carbs.

Processed Carbs

Lots of processed condiments and salad dressing have either sugar added, or if it’s a low fat equivalent, then artificial sweeteners such as maltodextrin, dextrose and corn syrup solids.  These additives are all carbohydrates and have exactly the same glycemix index as glucose.   As well as being sweetened with these chemicals, processed foods are quite often thickened with wheat or corn starches as well.

Blended spices such as Chinese 5 spice, garam masala and chilli powder can surprisingly contain up to a gram per teaspoon.  Spices made from roots, bark or seeds such as coriander, cinnamon and black pepper also contain a gram per teaspoon.  Stock cubes usually contain sugar and corn syrup and have about a gram per ½ cube.

Processed meats in particular tend to have hidden carbs; ham, corned beef, meatloaf, bacon and sausages all contain either sugar or starch fillers added, and in some cases both.  Products labelled low or non-fat are more likely to have starches added.  Canned fish products also have sugars and starches added to their sauces or brine.  Imitation crab meat is particularly high in added carbs with 12-15 grams of carbs for every 4 ounces.

Natural Carbs

It’s not just processed foods that have hidden carbohydrates, natural foods such as cream, cheese, eggs, fish and meats in their natural states.  Liver scores high in naturally found carbohydrates with beef having almost 9 grams per 4 oz serving and veal or calf liver having 3.1 grams.  Even seafood has hidden carbs – clams, mussels and oysters being the worst offenders with 5.8 grams, 8.4 grams and 8 grams respectively for a 4 oz cooked serving.

Food labelling can be misleading, in the US for example food manufacturers are allowed to round up (or down) the numbers, so a carton of heavy cream could have the label showing as zero carbohydrates when in actual fact it contains 0.6 grams per ounce.  Cheddar cheese has 0.5 grams per ounce and Swiss cheese 0.9 grams.  Half a cup of ricotta has 6 grams of carbs and fat-free plain yogurt has 8 grams per ½ cup.


We know that alcoholic beverages contain carbs, with beer and wine being the worse culprits. We are also aware that the way that they are absorb by the liver rather than being used directly for fuel means that they stall weight loss but did you know that other beverages are also hiding carbs?

Coffee, both regular and decaffeinated, contains 0.8 grams per 6 fluid ounces.  Herbal teas can contain up to 0.5 grams with fruit-teas having even more.

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