Nutrition Certification Blog

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs…The Twenty Percent Rule!

How do you determine if a carbohydrate is deemed “fit for consumption?” “The 20% Rule” is your answer.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs...The Twenty Percent Rule!Since not all carbohydrates cause blood glucose levels to rise in the same way, it is recommended to avoid eating anything where sugar is greater than 20% of the total carbohydrates.

DO NOT look at the percent daily values (% Daily Value) listed on labels (usually the column of numbers on the far right) as these only illustrate what percentage of a 2000 calorie diet a particular food represents.

To follow the 20% Rule, all you need to do is look at the line listing the Total Carbohydrates & see how many grams are listed. This is easy to find as it usually is listed in bold black letters. You then figure out twenty percent of that number & check it against the grams of sugar. If the grams of sugar are greater than the number you just calculated, this is a bad carb. As an example, let’s look at an English muffin where the Total Carbohydrates are 25 grams.The easiest way to calculate 20% is to first calculate 10% (all you have to do is move the decimal point one space to the left) & double that number.Good Carbs, Bad Carbs...The Twenty Percent Rule!

Ten percent of 25 would be 2.5, so twenty percent would be 5.0.When we read our English muffin label & find out it has 1 gram of sugar, since 1 is less than or smaller than 5, the English muffin would be a good carb choice. It’s that simple!

On the other hand, one cup of orange juice has 29 grams of Total Carbohydrates & 28g of sugar.No need to even do the math, no matter how “natural” it may be, orange juice is NOT a good choice thanks to the 20% rule. Only apply this rule when deciding if a carbohydrate is a good food choice.

Exempt from this rule would be milk & dairy products such as cottage cheese as the sugar they contain is lactose, which is a complex sugar; unfortunately, soy milk, unless the unsweetened type, always fails the 20% rule because of its high sugar content.

Next time you go grocery shopping, be sure to read the labels & use The 20% Rule.

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