Heres The Basic Formula:
Net carbohydrates = total carbohydrates fiber sugar alcohols .
When we say fiber we mean insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.
If youre not familiar with sugar alcohols, you can learn about them here.
Heres an example of the net carb calculation, using 1 cup of cauliflower rice:
1 cup of cauliflower rice contains 4.8 grams of total carbs and 3.2 grams of fiber. So, to get its net carbs, you subtract the fiber from the total carbs , which leaves you with 1.6 grams of net carbs .
If youre following a keto diet for weight-loss or general health reasons, staying within 20 net carbs per day is the way to go. Its easier to do, allows you far greater consumption of vegetables and other wholesome foods that contain carbohydrates, and, as we mentioned, still allows you to stay in ketosis.
Now lets try an example of calculating net carbs with a food that contains sugar alcohols. There are many keto and low-carb products that utilize sugar-alcohol-based sweeteners to sweeten food products without adding carbs . But there are also recipes that call for sugar alcohols. While there are many out there , we recommend erythritol sweetener, which, unlike some sugar alcohols, contains absolutely no carbs and doesnt tend to affect blood-sugar levels. So, for this example, well go with homemade keto whipped cream .
How To Calculate Net Carbs
Whether to count net or total carbs is a controversial topic within the low-carb community.
For starters, the term net carbs isnt officially recognized or agreed upon by nutrition experts. In addition, due to conflicting and outdated information, figuring out how to calculate net carbs can be confusing.
In fact, the net carb claims on packaged foods may not reflect the number of carbs your body actually absorbs.
Luckily, knowing how your body processes different types of carbs may help you achieve your target blood sugar, weight loss and health goals.
This article looks at the science behind net carbs, provides simple calculations for determining your intake and discusses the pros and cons of counting net carbs.
How Does The Keto Diet The Low Carb Diet Or The Low Carb High Protein Diet Work
Typically, nutrition guidelines state that our daily energy needs should be made up of carbohydrates , proteins and rest from fats. Diets like the keto diet, the low carb diet, or, one of its variations – the high protein low carb diet – reverse these percentages and recommend a higher intake of fats and proteins, reducing carbs intake to 50g per day – around 10% of the energy consumed throughout the day.
This reduced amount of carbs should place your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. While you’re in a state of ketosis, your body begins to burn fats for energy, not carbohydrates. It is supposed to ease the process of weight loss while keeping you full and satisfied, as the satiety index for proteins and fats is higher than that for carbohydrates.However, despite being praised by its followers and even known as a ‘cure’ for drug-resistant epilepsy , the ketogenic diet is pretty drastic and not safe for everyone – e.g., for people with metabolic disorders. You should consult your physician before attempting a keto diet.
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What Are Net Carbs
Simple carbs contain one or two sugar units linked together and are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, sugar, honey and syrup.
Complex carbs contain many sugar units linked together and are found in grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes.
When you eat a carb-containing food, most of the carbs are broken down into individual sugar units by enzymes produced in your small intestine. Your body can only absorb individual sugar units.
However, some carbs cant be broken down into individual sugars, whereas others are only partially broken down and absorbed. These include fiber and sugar alcohols.
Because of this, most fiber and sugar alcohols can be subtracted from total carbs when calculating net carbs.
Net carbs are broken down into individual sugar units and absorbed into your bloodstream. However, your body processes fiber and sugar alcohol carbs differently than digestible carbs.
Why Would I Like To Know The Number Of Net Carbs
While carbohydrates are the primary source of energy – they should provide around 55% of your daily calorie intake – there are some dietary approaches that recommend only a meager consumption of them. Those are ketogenic diets or low carb diets. Knowing your net carbs in keto is crucial – while that diet, you should be very aware of every gram of carbohydrate you chew! By knowing what are net carbs and how to calculate net carbs correctly, you can even treat yourself to your favourite ‘non-diet’ food item .
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Sugar Alcohol: How To Calculate Net Carbs On Keto
Food manufacturers routinely use sugar alcohols as substitutes for sugar due to their low calorie content and other health benefits. While there is no doubt that sugar alcohols can provide advantages over plain sugar , there are still many misconceptions that remain about these compounds, which at best, lead to harmless myths and at worst, are incredibly dangerous. This review presents evidence that sugar alcohols should be calculated based on their respective absorption, metabolism, and excretion rates, and discusses the safety and health benefits of sugar alcohols in the context of sugar replacements. Here we discuss various sugar alcohols and how to a calculate them on a keto diet accurately.
The Downsides Of Paying Attention To Net Carbs
Though knowing how to calculate net carbs can help you better understand how your body is going to use a particular food for energy, some folks might not want to make a habit of tracking them. “For some, focusing on ‘macros’ or specific nutrients of a food can fortify an unhealthy relationship with food,” says McDaniel. People who have a history of, a predisposition for, or actively have disordered eating behaviors will want to be careful with counting net carbs, as well as any other nutrients and numbers involved in their diet, adds Kimball.
Even if you don’t have this history of disordered eating, being a bit obsessive about your health stats calls for caution, says Kimball. “I think takes away from the food itself, and it makes food more of a science than a pleasure,” she explains. “What I would say in this case is maybe it’s fine to assess it, to see what the net carbs are and how that can fit into your normal day, but then not continuing to count or have this running tally of your day in your head.” In either instance, consider talking over your decision to calculate your daily net carb consumption with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before you get started.
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Calculating Net Carbs From Sugar Alcohols
Generally speaking, half of the carbs from sugar alcohols can be subtracted from the total carbs listed on the nutrition label.
Erythritol is an exception. If its the only sugar alcohol in the ingredients list, its carbs can be completely subtracted from the total carbs.
This value may be different than the number of net carbs stated on the product label, since many companies subtract all fiber and sugar alcohol carbs when calculating net carbs.
For example, a maltitol-sweetened Atkins bar label states that it contains 3 grams of net carbs.
However, when subtracting only half the carbs from sugar alcohols, the net carb value is 8.5 grams: 23 grams of total carbs 9 grams of fiber 11 grams sugar alcohols = 8.5 grams of net carbs.
A portion of fiber and sugar alcohols can be subtracted from total carbs to calculate net carbs. Formula: total carbs minus fiber minus half the carbs from sugar alcohols = net carbs.
Who Counts Net Carbs
“Mostly people subtract fiber and sugar alcohols from total carbohydrate to estimate the amount of carbohydrate that affects blood sugar,” explains Jill Weisenberger, M.S., RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, the Virginia-based author of Prediabetes: A Complete Guide. But the people who track their blood sugar regularlyfolks with diabetesdon’t necessarily calculate net carbs. “According to the American Diabetes Association, it is not necessary to subtract dietary fiber or sugar alcohols from total carbohydrates when carbohydrate counting,” says Weisenberger. “Most diabetes educators work one-on-one with people taking insulin to determine the need to subtract fiber and sugar alcohols to maintain target blood glucose levels.”
So, who is actually counting net carbs? The low-carb dietersAtkins, keto, etc. Since the keto diet is so low in carbohydrates, counting net carbs gives you more wiggle room in your day. That can be important, especially to allow for healthy foods like vegetables in your diet.
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Testing For Your Carb Edge Or Bio
Once youre solidly in ketosis for three or more months, some people like to test their carb edge, to determine whether they can consume more than 20 net carbs per day and still stay in ketosis. You can do this by gradually increasing your daily carbohydrate consumption and testing your glucose and ketones daily to see if you get glucose spikes, or pushed out of ketosis by eating more carb foods, including carb-heavy veggies. Learn more about testing for your carb edge here.
Its also common to test yourself for bio-individuality, or how your unique body responds to certain keto-friendly foods or processed foods. Some people get a glucose spike with certain sugar alcohols or dairy, for example. Testing your glucose and ketones before and after eating questionable foods allows you to discover if a food sensitivity is impeding your ability to stay in ketosis and achieve keto success.
To help you keep track of all your testing and subsequent results, Ket0-Mojo offers a free appwhere you can sync your readings to your smartphone and then tag or make notes in your readings. That means you can either tag or make notes on the foods you ate before testing or how many net carbs youve had for the day. You can even filter your readings by tags. To get even more insight into your readings with graphs and trends, or integrations with other health apps like Cronometer or Carb Manager, you can sign up for MyMojoHealth within the app. Learn more here.
Adverse Effects Of Sugar Alcohols
The most common adverse effects experienced by those who consume sugar alcohols are gastrointestinal effects. Side effects include bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence. However, the extent to which these side effects are experienced will differ from polyol to polyol and on the amount consumed.
Sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine but highly fermentable in the colon will induce the most discomfort such as sorbitol, mannitol, and isomalt, whereas sugar alcohols that are more easily absorbed in the small intestine are less likely to induce such adverse effects with erythritol being the least likely to cause gastrointestinal adverse effects due to its high absorption rate .
Xylitol has been found in many studies to be better tolerated than polyol disaccharides, polysaccharides, and hexitols. This is consistent with the fact that xylitol is a monosaccharide that is more easily absorbed and less fermentable than larger polyol compounds .
However, a subset of individuals who chronically experience gastrointestinal discomfort, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome, a functional gastrointestinal disorder, have often been advised to avoid polyols, sugar alcohols, and other complex forms of carbohydrates that are fermentable. One dietary approach that advocates this is the low-FODMAP diet.
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Health Outcomes Of Various Sugar Alcohols
As stated above, sugar alcohols provide several advantages as sugar substitutes due to the wide range of beneficial health effects they are associated with. Here, we examine some of these health effects, mostly within the context of randomized clinical trials, which are one of the most efficient ways to determine cause and effect relationships, assuming that the trials are free of any serious systematic errors in design or analysis.
The Final Word On The Difference Between Total Carbs Vs Net Carbs
Total carbs are exactly thatthe sum of all the carbs you eat in a day. Net carbs are calculated by taking your total carbs and subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols. You can make these calculations by reading food labels or calculating the macros of ingredients in the recipes you make.
Whether total carbs or net carb count is better for you to follow on a ketogenic diet depends on your goals. The bottom line: if youre following a ketogenic diet for medically therapeutic reasons, its best to start at 20 TOTAL carbs per day. If youre following the diet to battle obesity or insulin resistance , for weight-loss, or preventative health measures, 20 NET carbs should do the trick.
Still, its a good idea to test your ketones along the way to find your carb edge and learn whether any food sensitivities are affecting your success. Its also important to eat whole foods, avoid foods with added sugar , read nutrition facts and nutrition labels, and check with your primary care provider or dietitian before embarking on any diet.
Disclaimer: its always a good idea to consult with a dietitian and your primary care provider before starting any new diet.
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Absorption Metabolism And Fermentation
Sugar alcohols are often used as sugar substitutes in food products because they are difficult to digest and often slow to metabolize. This property is a result of the presence of the alcohol group in the area that is typically occupied by a carbonyl group in sugars . It also prevents polyols from being hydrolyzed by salivary amylases and fermented by bacteria found in plaque, both of which contribute to the production of acid and caries.
Smaller polyols such as monosaccharides are absorbed in the small intestine via passive diffusion along a concentration gradient , whereas larger polyols are too large to be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and are therefore poorly absorbed .
If unabsorbed in the intestines, the polyols may be fermented by bacteria or excreted as is. The absorption and fermentation rates differ from polyol to polyol due to the differing chemical structures therefore, they will result in different glycemic responses and gastrointestinal side effects . Thus, the amount of digestible carbohydrates that can also be metabolized in a food product is of interest to both food manufacturers and consumers.
Why Do Net Carbs Matter
Net carbs are important because they are a reflection of the glycemic index of foods. The glycemic index of foods determines how quickly their carbohydrates are digested and enter the bloodstream. It is measured on a scale from 1-100, with 50 g of glucose being the reference for a high-GI food .
Foods that have a high glycemic index are also known as impact carbs. In other words, these foods increase your blood sugar levels. When high-GI carbs enter your bloodstream unless theyre immediately used for physical exercise they typically contain more energy than your body can successfully use in one go. This extra energy gets stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver or as body fat.
Impact carbs can be very damaging to your health when you consume them regularly in high amounts. Foods that are high in impact carbs also tend to be lower in fiber.
Studies find that diets with large amounts of high-GI/impact carbs affect metabolism, increase complications of chronic diseases like polycystic ovary syndrome , and may even increase the risk of certain cancers .
On the other hand, foods that are low-GI tend to be higher in fiber and nutrient-dense compared to some high-GI foods.
Guiding your food choices by net carbs can help you focus on getting your carbs from foods that not only have fiber but are likely to have other essential vitamins and minerals.
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Get Net Carbs Calculated For You
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Doing Your Own Research
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