10 Sources of Hidden Carbs

Following a low carb high fat diet can be beneficial for someone looking to lose weight or regulate their blood sugar levels. From the outside it seems pretty easy to follow, you simply avoid foods that are high in carbs and increase your intake from fat. Unfortunately, in the modern world hidden carbs are everywhere, even in some seemingly ‘safe’ foods and if you’re unaware they’re there it may decrease your chances of reaching your goals.

We know sometimes not all hidden carbs can be avoided, but knowing hidden sources can help you look for alternatives when making meals and eating out.

Here are some surprising sources of hidden carbs to watch out for:

  1. Processed meats

Some processed meats such as bacon and salami make a great low carb snack but often the carb content varies. Burgers and sausages often contain binding agents such as flour or breadcrumbs which can rack up the carb count. Check the ingredients list for any carb sources and choose processed meat with a high meat content.

  1. Tinned soup

Many people might think that cream-based soups such as chicken or mushroom are safe options when on low carb. Surprisingly even the creamy soups can contain a high amount of flour as a thickener.

  1. Peanut butter

Alongside nuts and oil, some nut butters such as peanut butter can also contain high amounts of sugar. Check the label and opt for natural nut butters that contain only nuts and salt.

  1. Balsamic vinegar

All the efforts of eating a low carb salad could be ruined by a sugar-laden dressing. Balsamic vinegar, a common dressing for many salads can contain up to 3.6g carbs per tablespoon. Stick to extra virgin olive oil or mayonnaise.

  1. Cashew nuts

In the nut world cashews are one of the highest in carbs. Just one 25g serving could include up to 6g of carbs. Walnuts contain 3.5g carbs in comparison and almonds 2.5g, making them lower carb friendly alternatives.

  1. Restaurant foods

This one may seem a little obvious, but sometimes when dining out at a restaurant it may not be clear if food has been breaded or battered before being fried. You may think that halloumi fries are a relatively ‘safe’ option but many restaurants coat them in batter before frying. Ask the waiter if you’re unsure.

  1. Milk and milk alternatives

As milk contains the sugar lactose, a 200ml serving can contain up to 10g carbs. While a splash of milk in your tea is unlikely to do any harm, avoid milky drinks such as lattes and consider switching to cream in your hot drinks.

Milk alternatives such as soy milk or almond milk can be great options for those who are lactose-intolerant but can also sometimes contain added sugar. Look for unsweetened varieties and avoid alternatives made from starchy foods such as rice and oats.

  1. Medicines

This is a strange one but there are also carbs in non-food sources such as cough medicines and supplements. Often cough mixtures contain high amounts of sugar so taking them when you get sick could be ruining all your good effort. Some vitamins can also contain sugar such as the chewy types for children. As an alternative you could try peppermint tea or gargling salt water.

  1. Sugar-free foods

With the recent rise in ‘high protein, low sugar’ bars you may be tempted to grab one as a quick on the go snack. I mean, low sugar must mean low carb right? Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. Often these ‘low sugar’ foods are pumped full of sweeteners with one of the most common types in sugar-free bars being maltitol. In comparison to other artificial sweeteners such as stevia, maltitol has a much higher glycaemic index meaning it could cause a rise in blood sugar levels.

  1. Sauces

Unfortunately, many sauces use added sugar and flour to thicken and add taste. Gravy granules can contain large amounts of flour to help it thicken and sauces such as tomato and BBQ can contain high amounts of sugar. Consider making your own or sticking to low carb friendly sauces such as tamari or mayonnaise.

For more information on how to reduce your carb intake and discover how you could benefit from a low carb diet consider joining over 300,000 people who have already registered for our Low Carb Program. You can also now register your interest for our brand new Type 1 Program, designed using the feedback from over 40,000 members of the Low Carb Program with type 1 diabetes.

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About the author

Meg Knight

Meg is a Behaviour Change Mentor for diabetes.co.uk. She is passionate about supporting individuals to improve their mental health and wellbeing through making lifestyle changes. Meg graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and is due to start an MSc in Clinical and Health Psychology.
In her spare time she enjoys live music events and experimenting with low carb cooking.

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