When you're starting a low carb, ketogenic or any diet where you want to drastically reduce carbohydrate or sugar intake, calculating net carbs is a good starting point to gauging if a food product is good for your diet or not.
HOW TO CALCULATE NET CARBS
The simplest formula is:
Net Carbs = Total Carbs - Dietary Fiber - Sugar Alcohol - Rare Sugar
WHAT ARE FIBERS, SUGAR ALCOHOLS, AND RARE SUGARS
Sugar alcohols, added fibers and rare sugars are sweeteners that have a very low to no glycemic response. In other words, they are usually inert or have a very minimal impact when consumed in low doses. A guide is in the pipelines on that.
WHY DO WE CALCULATE NET CARBS?
Net carbs are very helpful in limiting the intake of free and added sugars while minimizing refined carbohydrates in the diet. Free sugars are sugars that are not bound by fibers and other structural components of foods and hence are rapidly digested while not being very filling. Ultra-refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, quickly digest as well while nut reducing your hunger for a longer period of time. You might have noticed that after consuming sugary soda or foods that contain white flour such as white bread, you feel hungry very quickly while you feel full longer on foods that contain complex carbohydrates such as rice, potato and pasta. This is why, to remain on the safe side, it may be important to calculate net carbs, especially when it comes to foods that have been structurally degraded and reconstituted such as packaged foods.
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE
Many sweeteners, fibers, sugar alcohols and rare sugars, when consumed in larger amounts, can cause stomach cramping, diarrhea or loose stools. We will soon be coming up with a guide on how much is fine. This is one of the reasons why we keep our sweeteners minimal in our Energy Pods and why many packaged food products are literally half sweeteners or fibers which lead to digestive issues right away! Another thing to watch out for is that many products may have low sweeteners or fibers in one serving but we know that most of us eat the entire box, bar or tub so the whole serving gimmick is just made to make numbers look smaller when the real life implications are different.
Using "Net Carbs" allows us to replace free and added sugars with sweeteners and though different sweeteners have a different impact, generally, it's what comes with the sweetener that is usually more important than the sweetener itself.
Fahad is the founder of Ketogeek and hosts the Ketogeek Podcast, a world class health show about food, nutrition and health. He is into resistance training, Ashtanga yoga, calisthenics and various forms of training styles. Armed with a idealistic goals distilled in a world of realism, his goal is to help the world make a better place. He leads a life of extreme generalism or as he describes it, 'The Renaissance Lifestyle'.
“It never ceases to amaze me how prosaic, pedestrian, unimaginative people can persistently pontificate about classical grammatical structure as though it's fucking rocket science. These must be the same people who hate Picasso, because he couldn't keep the paint inside the lines and the colors never matched the numbers.”
― Abbe Diaz