How to Calculate “Net Carbs”? What are “Net Carbs”? Should You Bother?

“Net carbs” is a keto diet term referring to this calculation for any particular food or food product:

Total grams of carbohydrate (minus) grams of insoluble fiber (equals) net carbs.

The reason for subtracting out the fiber content is that fiber digests differently and does not affect your blood sugar in the way that the sugar portion does. Theoretically, you could eat a large portion of total carbs and, with enough fiber, still be in a very low range of carbohydrates and still be in the quintessential fat-burning state called ketosis.

How to Calculate However, I’ve been on the fence about the “net carbs” and “total carbs” issue. In the video I admit that it is in large part to my own knee-jerk reaction to commercial “keto” food products that make “net carb” label claims of being “low carb” and “keto” when, in fact, all they managed to do was to sprinkle some extra psyllium husk in their product in order to make the claim.

I have no idea what we’re going to think about this whole question in 10 or 20 years but it seems to me that if the fiber comes connected with the cabbage leaf or cauliflower stem that it’s entirely different from that which is sprinkled into a commercial vat and pressed onto a protein bar assembly line.

In any case, I’m inclined to go in the “net carb” direction if the fiber was married with the food by Mother Nature. I am skeptical of the factory-based marriage ceremonies. If you’re counting “net carbs” and worried about your coleslaw, I wouldn’t tend to worry too much. If you’re eating five packaged protein bars, I wonder what your results will be.

I have a similar concern with “sugar alcohols.” I am distrustful that we should subtract these but I pray every night that we can. 😉

I’d keep the net carbs under 20 grams per day (or maybe 30 on “high” days). If you’re counting total carbs, perhaps keep them under 50 grams. In general, if you aren’t seeing results, you may need to reduce them a bit. As I mention in the video, if you are eating an entire mountain of zucchini (as I would be very happy to do myself), you might even cut back there. However, if you are seeing results, then just go get it!

About the Author Amanda Rose, Ph.D.

Amanda Rose, Ph.D. lives in the Giant Sequoia National Monument with her husband and two sons. She founded the Eat Like A Bear website to support the awesomely inspiring community on Facebook, Eat Like A Bear!

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