Net Carbs - what, how, why?

What are net carbs?


If you follow a ketogenic or low carbohydrate diet then you need to know what Net carbs are and how to calculate them. Net carbs are simply the amount of carbohydrates absorbed by your body. The Net Carbs represent the grams of carbohydrate that impacts your blood sugar level - this is the glycemic load.


The glycemic load measures the type of carbohydrate that a food contains, it calculates how much fibre, protein, or fat, and it takes into account how much of the food you eat. Using the glycemic load calculation gives you a more accurate result when tracking how carbs affect your glucose and insulin levels.


Why do you need to know the Net Carbs?


The Keto diet forces your body to use a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates, the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat.


How do you measure it?


The quick way to measure net carbs is to deduct the fibre from the amount of carbohydrate in a portion - you body can't absorb fibre, so it won't stay in your body.


Carbohydrate - Fibre = Net Carbs


If you eat a lot of processed or diet food, no added sugar foods - low sugar, no sugar jams, ice creams, chocolate etc...


Then you also need to look at the sugar alcohols - this is not the same a sugar.


Sugar alcohols are sweeteners, some occur naturally in foods, some are artificial and added to processed foods. Look at the label on a sugar free product you may see one of the following listed: Erythritol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH) Isomalt.


Food manufacturers use sugar alcohols to add to artificial sweeteners to make foods taste sweeter. Your small intestine doesn't absorb sugar alcohols well, so fewer calories get into your body. But if you have too much of it, it can cause bloating and diarrhea.


So if you eat a lot of 'sugar free' foods then to calculate the Net Carbs your are eating, you use this calculation;


Carbs - Fibre - Sugar Alcohols = Net Carbs