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Easy Low-Carb Meal Planning

Low-carb menus will give you a jump-start on weight loss.

As you get closer to your goal, you should gradually increase your carbohydrate intake. If you begin to gain weight, simply drop to the level below your current intake. Eventually, you'll be able to manage your weight and your carbohydrate intake easily.

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Using Nutrition Labels

Obviously, you won't be making all of your meals from recipes. What about food you buy off the supermarket shelf? Food labels can really help. They are accurate, up-to-date, and contain all the information you need to make appropriate choices. Take a look at these two lines of the label:

  • Total carbohydrate grams. There's no need to pay attention to or count grams of sugars or other information under Total Carbohydrate. These are already included in Total Carbohydrate.
  • Serving size. Make sure the serving size you'll eat is equal to the amount on the Nutrition Facts label. If it's more or less, adjust the amount of total carbohydrates you've eaten accordingly.

Foods Without Nutrition Labels

Most fresh produce, meat, poultry, and fish do not include a Nutrition Facts label. Meat, poultry, and fish do not contain significant amounts of carbohydrate unless they are breaded or stuffed. You can also find food values for thousands of foods on USDA's Web site.


Portion Control

Controlling portion sizes is an important part of counting carbs. Concentrate on eating reasonable portions. Downsize or double-check the accuracy of your portions with these portion-control tools and tips:

  • Use a food scale. After weighing foods for a while, you'll be able to determine an appropriate serving size based on weight.
  • Train your eyes. Determine accurate measurements by regularly using measuring cups and spoons to get used to visually estimating amounts.
  • Measure with your hands. Your hands can provide a quick visual guide to portions: Tip of the thumb (to first knuckle) = 1 tsp. Whole thumb = 1 Tbsp. Palm of your hand or the size of a deck of playing cards = 3 ounces. (This is the portion size of cooked meat [protein] most people need at a meal.) Tight fist = 1/2 cup Loose fist or open handful = 1 cup These guidelines hold true for most women's hands. Check the size of your hand's measurements with measuring cups, spoons, and a scale.

Originally published in the Easy Everyday Low Carb Cookbook, from the Editors of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

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