How To Calculate Net Carbs For Keto
Wondering how to count carbs and stay in ketosis? Use this manual net carb calculator:
Grams of total carbs fiber sugar alcohols = Net carbs
Heres one important element to factor into your net carb formula: Not all sugar alcohols are truly carb-free.
Some sugar alcohols can actually kick you out of ketosis because they have a high glycemic load. However, certain manufacturers selling low-carb or sugar-free foods will subtract those sugar alcohols from the total carb count. This makes products appear lower-carb than they actually are. Yikes.
On the other side of things, manufacturers will sometimes list sugar alcohols that dont affect your blood sugar as if they were normal carbs, making net carb counts seem higher than they actually are.
So, how are you supposed to calculate net carbs for keto? Know your sugar alcohols.
If You’re On A Keto Diet
People on the keto diet should also keep net carbs top of mind, as spikes in blood sugar can throw you out of ketosis, the state in which your body uses fat, not stored glucose, as fuel. While on the keto diet a high-fat, low-carb diet you’ll want to consume fewer than 35 grams of net carbs per day to stay in ketosis, but the exact number will be different for everyone, Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., a registered dietitian, previously told Shape.
Why The Type Of Sugar Alcohol Matters
Sugar alcohols are alcohols derived from sugar but dont worry, they wont make you drunk! They are widely used in the food industry to improve a products viscosity and sweetness, but they also occur naturally. Nowadays, they are well known for their sweetening properties, while carrying fewer calories than classic table sugar. Some, like erythritol, dont even contain any calories! Thats because our bodies cannot break them down properly. As these alcohols have different chemical structures, the degree to which we can break them down varies. Therefore, some of them are worth counting as net carbs, while some are not. The following sugar alcohols will pass through you without being digested, and therefore do no count towards net carbs:
However, dont think that you can eat those sweeteners to your hearts content, as excessive consumption can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.The rest of the sugar alcohols are counted towards the net carbs result only partially, thats why we need to divide their weight by 2.
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Calculating Net Carbs For Diabetes
Many people with diabetescount the amount of carbs in their diet. In many cases, calculating net carbs can help people with diabetes track their intake of dietary fiber and balance medications with carb intake.
Knowing how much fiber and sugar alcohol are in a food or meal can help a person with diabetes determine the amount of insulin they need.
People with diabetes should talk to their doctor, dietitian, or diabetes educator before starting a low carb diet. They can offer advice on the amount of carbs the person needs and how best to track them. They can also match medications to carb intake.
Calculating net carbs has some benefits over tracking total carbs, including:
- promoting a healthful intake of dietary fiber, which can increase feelings of fullness and help control blood sugar levels
- increasing how many food choices are available, as many fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber and contribute fewer carbs to a persons daily goal
- possibly reducing the risk of low blood sugar for people with diabetes, who often need to calculate the amount of insulin they need based on the amount of carbs per meal they consume
Some disadvantages of counting net carbs include:
- increasing the amount of sugar free treats which
Why Is Calculating Net Carbs Important
Calculating and tracking net carbs is important for those following the keto diet because consuming too many digestible carbs can prevent you from entering and/or kick you out of ketosis.
Your bodys preferred energy source is glucose . When you drastically reduce your carb intake , your body is forced to start turning stored fat into ketones for fuel instead.
The only other benefit I see to being aware of net carbs is that it forces you to be more aware of your fiber intake, says Martin. In order to calculate net carbs, you have to look at the amount of fiber on the label. And fiber, as you know, is a power nutrient.
Easy ways to increase fiber intake include adding seeds to your morning oats or smoothie, adding avocados to your meals, snacking on raspberries, and swapping some animal proteins for plant ones .
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Do You Count Net Carbs For Sugar Alcohols
Net carbs are essentially the total amount of digestible carbs which is why fiber is deducted from a total carb count in recipes and packaged foods. It’s important to understand how to read a food label, the ingredient list, and the nutrition panel.
Its also important to note that the keto diet limits you to 20g net grams of carbs per day, not 20g of total grams of carbs. This is why its good to know how to count net carbs for sugar alcohols when reading a nutrition label.
While the total count of grams of fiber is subtracted from total carbs to reach a net carb count in packaged foods and recipes, many people subtract half of the grams of any sugar alcohols listed on food packages or listed in recipes from total carbs to get your net carb count. An exception to this rule is with respect to erythritol .
One method that many readers use when needing to count net carbs for sugar alcohols from a food label:
Net Carbs = – *except for erythritol
How Many Net Carbs On Keto Should I Be Aiming For
On the standard ketogenic diet, you might eat as few as 20 grams of net carbs per day, or 5-10% of your total calorie intake. However, the right number of net carbs really depends on you.
Some people can eat slightly more carbs and stay in ketosis. Others need to stay on the lower end of the spectrum. Here are three examples:
- Youre highly active: Lets say you exercise three to four times per week, and youre in the gym for about an hour. Youre more likely to burn through your glycogen stores and stay in ketosis. You might notice improvements in your workouts when you bump up your carb intake.
- Youre pretty sedentary: You spend most of your day sitting down at a desk or in the car, and you want to lose some body fat. Keep your net carb intake on the lower end, around 5% of your total calories.
- Youre feeling tired: Other people feel more energized and sleep better when they bump their net carb intake up to 6% of their total calories, a style of eating also known as modified keto. If youre dealing with poor sleep and fatigue that just wont quit, your body might be asking for more carbs.
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Sugar Alcohols Are Still A Form Of Carbohydrate
When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label.
Some Nutrition Facts labels may also list sugar alcohols under total carbohydrate. Sugar alcohols may be found in products that are labeled sugar-free or no sugar added. This can include sugar-free candies, chocolate, and energy bars. But dont be fooled sugar alcohols are still a form of carbohydrate, and they still affect your blood sugar levels, if not as dramatically.
Net Carbs Vs Total Carbs
Whats the difference between net carbs and total carbs?
Why is this important?
Total carbs include both fiber and sugar alcohols, often found in sugar substitutes. When youre doing keto, NET carbs are important. The body doesnt absorb/digest fiber and sugar alcohols, so they arent counted on a keto diet.
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What Are Sugar Alcohols
If you havent come across the term sugar alcohols before, they are naturally present in certain fruits as well as being man-made by processing regular sugars.
Although sweet like natural sugars, their molecular structure differs making sugar alcohols harder to absorb and digest. This is why they are lower in calories and therefore often added to foods that are marketed as sugar-free or no sugar added.
While added to food, they are also commonly found in other items such as sugar-free chewing gum, medications, laxatives, and toothpaste!
The common sugar alcohols that most of us are familiar with, especially when trying to find sugar alternatives, include:
Two more common sugar replacements are stevia and monk fruit. These are NOT sugar alcohols. They are natural sweeteners made from plants. These common keto sweeteners are popular amongst those who have had digestive problems with sugar alcohol but still want sugar substitutes.
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Calculating Net Carbs From Fiber
Most fiber can be completely subtracted from the total carbs listed on the nutrition label.
If you live outside the US, the total carbohydrate line already has the fiber removed and listed separately.
However, if the fiber isomaltooligosaccharide is in the ingredients list, subtract only half of the fiber carbs.
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How Do I Calculate Net Carbs
To calculate net carbs, you should:
Net carbs = total carbohydrates fiber .
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Doing Your Own Research
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Health Bonuses Of Polyols
If you can tolerate the gut rumbling associated with polyols, they provide health benefits in addition to blood sugar management.
Most polyols feed the gut with prebiotic fibers that improve the flora and microbiota. Also, as they are broken down, the colon creates short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate, propionate that are very beneficial to overall health.
SCFA encourage a strong metabolism, immunity, and brain health, and they are anti-inflammatory.
Sugar Alcohol: How To Calculate Net Carbs On Keto
Food manufacturers routinely use sugar alcohols as substitutes for sugar due to their low calorie content and other health benefits. While there is no doubt that sugar alcohols can provide advantages over plain sugar , there are still many misconceptions that remain about these compounds, which at best, lead to harmless myths and at worst, are incredibly dangerous. This review presents evidence that sugar alcohols should be calculated based on their respective absorption, metabolism, and excretion rates, and discusses the safety and health benefits of sugar alcohols in the context of sugar replacements. Here we discuss various sugar alcohols and how to a calculate them on a keto diet accurately.
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Net Carbs Dont Seem Like Much
Youre right, 20 net carbs isnt a lot, and they can add up quickly.
This is why it is important to look at the net carb value for each meal youre eating. The best way to handle this is to make your own MEAL PLAN. By planning out your meals, you can tally up your days totals and you have the added benefit of knowing what youre eating for each meal.
Or, just come back as needed and use the keto Net Carb Calculator.
Heres What You Need To Know:
Because sugar alcohols are hard for the body to digest, the effect on blood sugar levels is less than standard sugar. When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate.
Remember that because sugar alcohols are harder for your body to digest, eating too many sugar alcohols may cause digestive complaints like gas, cramping and diarrhea.
Now lets practice using the sample food label shown here:
- Locate the total carbohydrate in one serving. You will see that the total carbohydrate is 29 grams.
- The amount of sugar alcohol is 18 grams per serving.
- Calculate half the grams of sugar alcohol .
- Subtract only half of the grams of sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrate Count this product as 20 grams of carbohydrate .
When counting carbohydrates, include half of the sugar from the sugar alcohol.
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If You Exercise A Whole Lot
People who exercise a ton or are looking to add more carbohydrates to their daily diet to ensure they properly fuel up and replenish their bodies may also want to calculate and reference their net carb intake, says Kimball. Since theyre exercising for several hours at a moderate to high intensity every single day, these folks may need to consume up to 5.4 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight daily to amp up their glycogen stores , according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Nosh primarily on foods with a low amount of net carbs, and you might not give your body the glucose it needs to power through those tough workouts. By paying attention to net carbs, these athletes can ensure theyre properly fueling up on carbohydrates that can be used for energy not just ones that move through their systems undigested.
Net Carbs = Total Carbs Fiber Sugar Alcohols & Allulose
For example, a keto pancake with 13 grams of total carbs, 9 grams of fiber, 2 grams of erythritol, and 1 gram of allulose would have 1 gram of net carbs.
Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates, but most of these dont metabolize fully in your body more on that below. Allulose is not a sugar alcohol , but since your body does not burn it for energy as sugar, you can subtract it the same way.
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Summary Of Polyol Health Pros And Cons
The health positives of sugar alcohols/polyols are:
- Facilitate healthy blood glucose levels and prevents spikes
- Reduce calories and insulin secretion to help with weight management
- Provide prebiotic fiber for healthy gut microbiome
- Create Short-Chain Fatty Acids that improve metabolism, brain health, immunity, and fight inflammation
- Act as antioxidants scavenging free radicals
- Prevent cavities and boost oral health
- Promote bone health
Plus, polyols/sugar alcohols have been extensively studied and tested and found to be safe to consume.
The health problems of these sweeteners are:
- Digestive irritation like bloating, gas, and diarrhea
- Restricted and problematic use for IBS symptoms and people sensitive to FODMAPs
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How Do I Count Net Carbs
Now for the fun part! To count net carbs, you will need to know the total carbohydrates in a serving of food. As previously mentioned, total carbohydrates include all types of carbohydrates: starches, sugars, fiber, and sugar alcohols.
Fiber naturally occurs in plant-based foods, and is not digested like other carbs – most of it leaves the body unchanged which means, unlike impact carbs, your body doesn’t absorb fiber. Certain fibers have been shown to feed good gut bacteria, can help you feel fuller longer, suppress appetite, and even reduce blood sugar spikes after a meal. Basically, fiber rocks, and and were big time fiber fans!
Sugar alcohols are a group of carbohydrates used in some food products as sweetening or bulking agents, but have fewer calories and a lower glycemic impact than typical carbohydrates. This is because they are not readily metabolized by the body.
What does this mean? Because fiber and sugar alcohols, like erythritol, the main ingredient in Swerve, do not affect blood sugar in the same way that regular carbs do, you can subtract all or some of them from the total carb count in a serving of food.
You can calculate net carbs with just a little subtraction! Heres the simple formula:
Total carbohydrates fiber erythritol = net carbs
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How To Calculate Net Carbs In Whole Foods
Since whole foods contain natural fibers, calculating net carbs is simple. All you have to do is subtract the fiber grams from the total carbs, and there you have it: the net carbs!
The best place to look for this information is the USDA FoodData Database.
The formula for calculating net carbs in whole foods is:
- Net carbs = total carbs fiber
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