Those Hidden Carbs (Damn you, Tomato Soup!)


I got home nice and early from my Monday morning run (interval training at the track – fun). I took the boys to school, did some shopping and tried to figure out what to eat for breakfast. Feeling lazy and not in the mood to cook, I decided to have some of the leftover tomato soup I made last night.


I ate two bowls of soup and went to work. I didn’t bolus at all thinking that I hadn’t really had any carbs, and I was still under the effect of my run. An hour after eating I checked my blood sugar and was surprised to see it was 189. How could that be? I hadn’t eaten any carbs, or at least so I thought.

I’ve been thinking a lot about carbohydrates lately. I don’t mean the counting of carbs and trying to avoid most of them. I’ve been reading Gary Taube’s latest book, Why We Get Fat, and I’ve been trying to understand why, after eliminating almost all the carbs from my diet I still haven’t become lean.

Don’t worry I know I’m not fat (162.5 pounds), and technically not even overweight.  But I used to think that running 50+ miles a week alone would make me look more like a marathoner (bone thin).  I’ve found, however, that even after cutting most carbohydrates from my diet I still have some extra pounds in all the wrong places (belly fat is associated with higher risk for heart disease). 

To most readers of Gary Taube’s books (Good Calories Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat), carbs are mostly a weight loss and general health question.  But to me, like all type 1 diabetics, carbs are a much greater issue. We don’t all have to cut them out completely, or reduce the amount we consume (although I do believe it is the right thing to do), but we do all need to learn to identify them.  We have to find out where they are and how quickly they affect our blood sugars. Some are easy. We all know that bread is high and fast. But what about tomato soup or just fresh tomatoes?  I had never given that much thought.

So after my morning surprise I looked it up and here is the truth about that so-called vegetable (which my children informed me is actually a fruit):

One medium tomato has 6.3g of carbohydrate of which 4.9g are sugar (fructose) and 80% of the calories come from carbohydrate. One cup of tomato juice, the base for my soup, has 10g of carb in it of which 9 are sugars.

No, I’m not giving up my tomato soup.  I’ll just bolus for it next time. 

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1 year ago

It would’ve been helpful to include a way to cut the soup w something to decease the carb or maybe a recipe for a homemade tomato soup that would be healthier.
This left me wanting more from this article and yet there wasn’t anything.

10 years ago

yep soups in general if you read the label, canned soups, max serving size is 1 cup. now to see if i can pass the captcha code test

Nathan Shackelford
10 years ago

So true! I realized that tomatoes were a problem when they were off the “ok” list in Dr. Bernsteins book. In practice, yes, they require much more insulin that other veggies. By the way, I really enjoyed that Taubes book. Liike you I’m normal BMI really interested in proper carb metabolism and addressing belly fat.

Deborah Kanter
10 years ago

Yeah, it’s sad that tomato soup and other tomatoey things have enough carbs to count. Which reminds me: I’m going to make the lentil-beef stew today.  

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