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Living with Diabetes

Does Sugar-Free Mean Carb-Free?

1/25/2022 by mySugr

Does Sugar-Free Mean Carb-Free?

If you’re living with diabetes, you know how important your diet is to helping you manage your blood sugar. Learning more about what’s in your food can help you do a better job at making healthy choices.

Foods these days come with lots of labels, and many are deceptive. When you’re trying to eat healthily, a package that says “sugar-free” might look attractive. But does sugar-free mean carb-free? Are sugar-free or “no sugar added” foods a good choice?

Sugar-Free Does NOT Mean Carb-Free

While sugar-free foods can be part of your diabetes diet, it’s just as important to think about carbs. Just because food is labeled sugar-free doesn’t mean it has no carbs.

If you’re trying to choose between standard products and sugar-free options, look at the food label. If the item labeled sugar-free has a lot fewer carbs, it might be the best choice. If there’s little to no difference in carbs, then pick one based on price or taste.

No Sugar Added Doesn’t Mean Carb-Free Either

Along with sugar-free products, you’ll often find items that are labeled “no sugar added.” Once again, no sugar added doesn’t mean the food contains no carbs either.

The no sugar added label does mean that the food doesn’t have high-sugar ingredients. It also means that sugar isn’t added during packaging or processing. However, these items still may contain a lot of carbs. Look at the package label carefully and check the total carbs before deciding it’s a good choice for your diabetes diet.

Even Sugar Alcohols Have Calories and Carbs

Sometimes sugar-free or no sugar added foods contain sugar alcohols. Common sugar alcohols include mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. Sugar alcohols are often considered a diabetes-friendly ingredient to replace sugar. Just remember, they still have calories and carbs.

Managing Diabetes Isn’t Just About Watching Sugar Intake…Carbs Matter

When trying to make healthy food choices to manage diabetes, remember that carbs matter. It’s not just about watching how much sugar you eat. And while all sugars are carbs, not all carbs are sugar. Fiber and starches are carbs, too.

Yes, choosing sugar-free and no sugar added foods can be part of a healthy, diabetes-friendly diet. But it’s always a good idea to check the nutrition label. That way you know the ingredients in what you’re eating and the total carb content.


The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.
Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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