Keeping blood sugar well controlled depends upon eating the right amount of carbohydrates. Too many carbs can send glucose levels soaring and too little carbs can leave you low in energy and even irritable. The first step in keeping carbs and glucose levels in check is knowing which foods are sources of carbohydrates such as grains, fruit, beans and milk. Surprisingly, some foods contain hidden carbs, which can make blood sugar management extra challenging.
Read on to learn some the most common sneaky sources of hidden carbs that may be standing in the way of you achieving your best blood sugar levels.
Condiments and Sauces
When planning meals, one can easily forget to factor in the carbohydrates from condiments. Unfortunately, many condiments contain a significant amount of carbs and added sugar. Be cautious of the carb content of items like BBQ sauce, ketchup, salsa, honey mustard and jam. When grocery shopping look for condiments with as no-added-sugar and as few carbs as possible. When dining out, be aware of sweet sauces, glazes and marinades with sugar added. Request sauce on the side to help control the amount of potential hidden carbs.
Milk Alternatives and Creamers
Plain dairy milk contains 12 grams of carbs and zero added sugar per cup. However, the nutritional value of milk alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk and oat milk can vary widely. While some milk alternatives contain significant amounts of carbs and protein, others, such as almond milk, can be quite low in both of these nutrients. Products labeled “Original” may have up to two teaspoons of added sugar per serving. Look for milk alternatives and creamers that are labeled “Unsweetened”.
Like many packaged foods, snack bars such as granola and energy bars can be loaded with carbohydrates and added sugar. Just because a bar is high in protein doesn’t mean it is low in carbs. Bars with chocolate, dried fruit, honey, oats and dates are guaranteed to raise blood sugar levels. Bars marketed as “energy”, “fuel” and for “performance” most likely are high in carbs. Bars made primarily from nuts and seeds containing no-added-sugar are often a better choice for avoiding blood glucose spikes.
With about five grams of carbs or fewer per serving, many vegetables are quite low in carbs. Examples of low-carb veggies include lettuce, spinach, cucumber, zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper and green beans. However, carrots, potatoes, corn, beets, English peas and most types of winter squash are high in carbs. While both low-carb and high-carb vegetables can fit into a balanced diet, those looking to better manage blood glucose levels benefit from knowing the difference.
When choosing packaged foods, check the serving size, total carbohydrates and added sugar amounts on the Nutrition Facts food label to make the most informed purchases. Remember that five grams of carbs or more per serving is a significant amount of carbs and fifteen grams of carbs is considered a full serving of carbohydrates.