What are Net Carbs?

What are Net Carbs? As you know, total carbohydrates refers to the total grams of carbohydrates (also affectionately known as poison) in a food. This number includes the grams of carbs, dietary fiber, sugar, and sometimes sugar alcohols.

The term net carbs or net carbohydrates simply refers to the carbs that are actually absorbed by the body. Fiber for example, is not absorbed.

To calculate the net carbs in a food, simply subtract the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbohydrates.

EXAMPLE: The “healthy” Clif bar below contains 44 grams of total carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber. This means the net carbs (grams of poison your body is absorbing) is 39 grams. Yikes!!**

44 grams Total Carb - 5 grams Dietary Fiber = 39 grams Net Carbs

**Fiber is important for gut and immune health; however, not all fiber is created equally. The fiber in fruit or legumes will help slow your digestion and can assist in regulating your blood sugar. Fiber in bars like the ones shown above however may not have this same effect and may very well give you GI distress.

What about sugar alcohols?

Sugar alcohols refer to non-nutritive (calorie free) sweeteners that are used as replacements for sugar in many keto or “low carb” recipes. Examples include erythritol, sorbitol and xylitol. While we recognize their popularity, we believe they can actually hinder your weight loss progress.

Here’s why: While sugar alcohols technically contain zero carbs, they can raise your blood sugar and will make you crave more sweets. Additionally, foods made with sugar alcohols often still contain ample carbohydrates.

Bottom line: sugar alcohols should NOT be subtracted from total carbohydrates. Treat them like absorbable carbs/poison.

EXAMPLE: Here we have another “healthy” protein bar. Notice that it contains 23 grams of total carbs, 1 gram of fiber, and 11 grams of sugar alcohols. If you eat this product, you are absorbing 22 grams of poison (not good!).

23 gram Total Carb - 1 gram Dietary Fiber = 22 grams Net Carbs.

If you have additional questions about net carbs or counting carbs, make sure to ask your friendly WellnessFromFood dietitian.

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