When calculating daily carbohydrate intake on diets like the popular ketogenic regimen, you’ll come across terms like “net carbs” and “total carbs.” What do these labels mean, and why does differentiating them matter?
Defining Total Carbohydrates
Found on all nutrition labels, “total carbohydrates” indicates the sum of all carbs found in a food item, including:
- Sugar alcohols sometimes
So, if an item has 15g total carbs, this reflects complete carb accounting regardless of nutritional relevance.
What are Net Carbs?
Net carbs focus only on carbs with caloric impact and insulin response - digestible carbohydrates. To calculate:
Total Carbs - Fiber - Sugar Alcohols = Net Carbs
Because fibers are indigestible, they are subtracted along with sugar alcohols with a limited insulin effect.
Why This Matters for Ketosis Diets
Ketogenic diets require strict carb limitations (usually below 50g daily) to maintain ketosis, where you burn fats rather than glucose for fuel through ketone bodies.
Focusing on net carbs allows more nutritional wiggle room to incorporate fibrous low-starch veggies and certain sweeteners than judging by total carbs alone.
You remain below carb thresholds, triggering ketosis exit while consuming plenty of nutrient-dense foods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will sugar alcohols like erythritol kick me out of ketosis?
The 0.2 glycemic points don’t elicit insulin, meaning they don’t count toward ketosis carb limits.
Is all fiber created equal nutrition-wise?
No. Focus on viscous fibers like beta-glucan over non-viscous for optimal digestion and blood sugar management.
What are sneaky high-carb culprits? Watch high-sugar veggies like carrots and onions, nuts, and dairy. Check labels vigilantly.
Tracking net carbs specifically grants freedom by incorporating beneficial fiber-rich plant foods, gut-balancing probiotics, and glycemic-friendly sweeteners rather than counting total carbs alone. This allows both ketosis maintenance plus overall nutritional richness.