LABELS What You Need to Know About Carbspeak
YOU DO THE MATH
Until the Food and Drug Administration rules on the legal definition of "low carb" or "carb lite," companies can get in trouble explicitly marketing their products as such. Nutrition labels can be used, however, to break down a food's carbohydrate content, enabling dieters to subtract so-called nonimpact carbs. Those include fiber and artificial sweeteners such as sugar alcohols, which don't raise blood-sugar levels.
THE INDUSTRY JARGON
Foodmakers created the idea of "net carbs" or "impact carbs" to zero in on the amount of carbohydrates that affect insulin levels.
THE MIRACLE WORKER
The proliferation of low-carb treats is largely due to Splenda, a zero-calorie sugar derivative that handles heat better than Equal or Sweet'n Low.
THE FINE PRINT
Some low-carb sweets rely on sugar alcohols, which are slowly digested carbs that have no impact on insulin levels but can, in excess, wreak havoc on your digestive tract.
PRODUCTS Reduced Carb vs. the Regular Brand
Low-carb foods are migrating from speciality stores to grocery shelves alongside their higher-carb brethren as food manufacturers play catch-up in the great diet chase
MICHELOB ULTRA VS. MICHELOB
Anheuser-Busch credits its record U.S. beer sales last year to low-carb Michelob Ultra, which hit stores in late 2002 and now outsells Heineken in supermarkets and drugstores.
CARBS 2.6 G 13.3 g CALORIES 95 155 PRICE $1.75 $1.35
Serving size: 12 oz.
HEINZ ONE CARB KETCHUP VS. HEINZ TOMATO KETCHUP
As Heinz peddles its new low-carb ketchup, the company is touting the benefits of a balanced diet with its Smart Ones Truth About Carbs frozen entrees.
CARBS 1 g 4 g CALORIES 5 15 PRICE $1.89 $1.59
Serving size: 1 tbsp.
TROPICANA LIGHT 'N HEALTHY VS. TROPICANA PURE PREMIUM
After its flagship brand eked out low single-digit sales growth two quarters ago, Tropicana launched Light 'n Healthy, with 11/43 less sugar and 11/43 fewer calories.
CARBS 17 g 26 g CALORIES 70 110 PRICE $3.29 $3.29
Serving size: 8 oz.
MUELLER'S REDUCED CARB SPAGHETTI VS. MUELLER'S REGULAR
Tastier than its soy-laden rivals, this new wheat-based, reduced-carb pasta made its debut after Mueller's parent company partly blamed the diet for declining sales.
CARBS 19 g* 41 g CALORIES 200 210 PRICE $1.99 $0.99
Serving size: 2 oz.
KLONDIKE CARBSMART SANDWICHES VS. KLONDIKE BIG BEAR SANDWICHES
Atkins' Endulge ice cream tastes like cardboard, but Klondike's CarbSmart bars taste like, well, Klondikes. The new line has a bit less heft, but who cares?
CARBS 5 g* 28 g CALORIES 80 190 PRICE $3.99 $3.99
Serving size: One sandwich
SARA LEE DELIGHTFUL WHITE BREAD VS. SARA LEE CLASSIC WHITE BREAD
Since their year-end launch, Sara Lee Delightful's wheat and white varieties have become the top-selling low-carb breads and No. 9 and No. 17 overall.
CARBS 9 g 12 g CALORIES 45 60 PRICE $2.57 $2.34