Confused about reading how many label break down carb count

(AMK) #1

I’m finding many labels - like this one for Q Light Tonic - where the “carb” math just isn’t adding up for me. Or, likely, I don’t understand how to read the label? Please help!

This particular label mentions 11g of total carbs. Got it.
Then, I get lost => Within the 11g are 4g of sugars which includes 4g of added sugars. :upside_down_face: Are those two the same item? I’m pretty sure I should be counting all 11g if I consume this drink (clearly no fiber here!!) but what are the 7g of carbs that seem unaccounted for on the label?

(Alec) #2

An intriguing NIP…

  1. 11g carbs and they say it’s 20 calories…. Hmmmm, don’t understand that! Anybody? Are they discounting some of the erythritol here?
  2. I would say the 2nd line of 4g total sugars is the same as the 3rd line of added sugars.
  3. No idea what exactly they mean by “added sugar” in this context… what is being added to what? Anybody know?
  4. They seem to be reporting 7g of “non-sugar” carbs: given the ingredients list, I am not sure what they consider sugar and what is not sugar… maybe it is literally 4g of sugar and the other ingredients are considered non-sugar?

(Allie) #3

With the way the “includes added sugars” is indented on the list, it seems to say the 4g sugars are the added sugars. I would just use normal sparkling water tbh, wouldn’t touch this stuff.


I would count 4g sugar but some people don’t use zero for erythritol. It’s a sugar alcohol, 100% carbs but many of us consider it zero net carbs so we don’t count it. But some people count half of it.

It has 11g total carbs, 4g sugar (all added), probably all 7g comes from erythritol. Trace amount wise it may be different but who cares about that?


Sugar is in the ingredients list. That’s added sugar.


So it’s very clear to me. I saw worse labels… The item contained various sweeteners and fibers and there was no way to figure out net carbs.

(Marianne) #7

I am no expert, but I would just consider one can to have 11g of total carbs and leave it at that. I have been zc for a long while, however, if I were still trying to keep my total carbs to 20g/day, one can of pop, or whatever this is, would be too much of an expenditure to me. Varying opinions here, however, if/when I want a “sweet” treat, I have a can of diet pop. It’s zc. I limit my consumption to one can or less a day.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #8

“Total sugars” refers to the sucrose (“sugar”) in the ingredients list. Of the 4 g of total sugar, all of it is added sugar—in other words, it is not there because it is part of one of the other ingredients.

There is some feeling to the effect that if a food naturally contains sugar, that’s okay, but added sugar is bad for us. So, for example, if this were an apple pie, one serving might contain 10 g of sugar from the apples, plus 20 g of added sugar. The label would then read “total sugars 30 g / includes 20 g added sugar.”

I agree with @Alecmcq that something about the calorie count is wrong. Eleven grams of carbohydrate is 44 calories.

Also, I’d be very careful with this product, since two cans of it would put you over your 20 g/day limit for carbohydrate.

(AMK) #9

This item was already in my pantry before I started keto so I had to check the label before deciding whether it could work in my carb count. Not worth it at 11 carbs… I still don’t understand where the other 7g grams of mystery carbs went since they are not listed under carbs. I see that on many labels. What gives?

Lastly and most interestingly, you mention 11g of carbs should be 44 calories. By deduction :nerd_face: every gram of carb = 4 calories?

(Doug) #10

Yes, 4 calories per gram. They’ve got the label screwed up or its information is very incomplete - the ‘missing’ grams of carbs would have to be almost all indigestible to end up with 20 calories, like cellulose or something. But nothing in the ingredients list fits, and why would any such thing be in tonic water, in the first place?

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, and has a small amount of calories, like 0.2 per gram or less. It’s listed ahead of sugar, so I’m assuming there’s more of it there than sugar, but there would have to be 20 grams of it or more to get from 16 to 20 calories. And that would be almost an ounce of sugar alcohol in that tiny can… ouch. :frowning_face:

Best explanation, I think, is that they were not careful enough with the label information. Their ‘Spectacular’ Tonic water (as opposed to the ‘Light’ version) has:

Sugars 11 grams

  • Includes 11 grams Added Sugars*


And that’s impossible as it can’t be more than 7g (it’s carb but not sugar)…
The numbers don’t totally add up but the difference is tiny. 1g sugar is a bit more than 4 kcal, they may count the erythritol in various ways, surely there is some rounding involved and they may lie a bit (some labels lie A LOT. the worst I met said it’s 54% fat and I felt that it’s about zero. it acted like that too. it was simply another product, still coconut but without all the fat and sugar and taste. it’s not even a rare thing here nowadays, it’s pretty hard to buy real coconut flakes for an okay price. fortunately we barely use any of it anymore but I am still mad, it’s disgusting what they do).

(Doug) #12

Erythritol is up to 0.2 calories per gram, Shinita. So I figure 20 grams x 0.2 = 4 calories. Add that to the 16 from 4 grams of carbs and it’s 20. I don’t think they are including other stuff in the 11 grams thing, though - I was just speculating about it. Rather, my best guess is that they just copied the “11 grams” from their other tonic waters that do have that much carbohydrate in them. It would just be a mistake if that’s what has happened.

Most sugar alcohols are about half the calories of sugar - I am guessing they went with erythritol to minimize the calories. But I don’t think they are normally counted as carbohydrates…?


But some people use 0 (I read zillion times it’s zero and only 1-2 times that maybe more) and some use 0.5 kcal. No idea what companies do.
Erythritol can’t be more than 7g according to the label as it’s carbs and not sugar. It’s in the 11g with 100% (erythritol is 100% carbs, right?) but not in the 4g sugar.

But it’s that as far as I know so they should. They can’t cherry pick what carbs they include in total carbs.

But I think I wrote everything I could add at this point, not necessarily once :smiley:

(Doug) #14

I think we are “chasing our own tails” here. :smile:

I have read that erythritol can be from 0 to 0.2 calories per gram. I don’t know, but I wonder if there are different formulations of it. Or, different rules for measuring and/or reporting, in different places?

There are at least two different cases here. One is what I think is by far the best explanation - that the company used information from it’s other tonic waters, which actually do have 11 grams of carbohydrates in them. The “Light Tonic” would not actually have that much; they just have the wrong information on the label. 16 calories from the added sugar, and 4 more from other stuff - we do in fact end up with 20 calories total.

The second case is that somehow there are 7 more grams of carbohydrates in there. Erythritol doesn’t necessarily get counted as all carbs. Some people don’t count it at all. Some count all of it. Some count half of it, as with:,sugar%20alcohols%20under%20total%20carbohydrate.

Because sugar alcohols are hard for the body to digest, the effect on blood sugar levels is less than standard sugar. When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate.

I had never heard this - just saw it right now when searching for information. But I really don’t think it matters - I’m pretty sure they just messed up the label.


I don’t count it at all but I still know it’s 100% carbs… But it’s total carbs, something I couldn’t care less about. 100% total, close to 0% net. (And considering how much I use since my default woe is carnivore, it doesn’t even matter if I use total or net :smiley: But that’s just me, I saw recipes with a crazy amount of sweetener from my viewpoint. And as far as I know, products sweetened by sweeteners are for the tastebuds of normal sugar eating people so they are super sweet.)

(AMK) #16

So, they might simply have copied the from the regular tonic to the Light one? Seems sloppy, huh?

(AMK) #17

Thank you all for your insights. And not meaning to beat a dead horse, I’m still not understanding where the missing carbs go. I’m not able to insert a photo in this reply, so here’s a link to package of Trader Joe’s cashews..

It mentions that there are 9g of carbs for the ¼ cup portion. Less than 1g fiber and 2g sugar. I’m finding this “incomplete” labeling info on most products and really don’t know how to interpret what the unaccounted 6g of carbs or what they might consist of.

Thanks for your help!

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #18

Okay. Here goes: The product contains 9 g of digestible carbohydrate, 2 g of which are sugar. So that’s a total carb count of 9 g. Subtract the grams of fibre from the total carbohydrate: 9 - 0 = 9 g of net carbohydrate. Since there is no fibre, the total and the net are the same.

Perhaps you are confused by the fact that some of that digestible carbohydrate is sucrose (sugar), but the rest is other digestible carbohydrates (which are basically glucose arranged in various ways).

In any case, the calories add up properly on this label: (13 g fat x 9) + (9 g carbohydrate x 4) + (5 g protein X 4) = 117 + 36 + 20 = 173 total calories. The label says 170, but that’s rounding error, because the figures of 4, 4, and 9 kcal/g are approximations.

(AMK) #19

Thank you @PaulL !

(Doug) #20

It would be sloppy indeed; I’m really wondering…

At this point I think the question comes down to 7 grams of carbohydrate from erythritol, or not?

I e-mailed the company about it, and hopefully they will respond.