If you are following a keto diet, then you must be wondering how to calculate net carbs as the Ketogenic diet is the amalgamation of low carbs and high-fat meals, and if you don’t take care of your carb intake, it will not help you much in your diet goals.
Knowing the number of carbs in your everyday diet is an essential element when you aim to calculate the net carbs you are getting from a particular meal. After all, a product does not only contain the number of carbs, it is a mixture of sugar alcohols, fiber, and preserved flavors, etc. So you have to pay attention to what ingredients contain carbohydrates in a meal.
In this guide, we will discuss how to calculate net carbs, what net carbs are, and why they matter?
What are Net (Digestible) Carbs?
Digestible carbs are often used in place of net carbs. To calculate your net carbs, it is essential to know how many total carbs your body absorbs, which is composed of complex and simple carbs.
Complex carbs consist of several sugar units that are linked to each other and can be found in foods including starchy vegetables like kidney beans, peas, potatoes, and grains.
Simple carbs consist of one or sometimes two units of sugar that are linked together and can be found in vegetables, fruits, honey, sugar, milk, and syrup.
When you consume carb-containing foods, they break down themselves into several individual sugar units through enzymes so that your body can absorb these single units of sugar easily. These enzymes are produced by your small intestine to decompose food and absorb energy from them.
Some carbs, however, do not easily decompose into single units of sugar, while other units tend to absorb in the body when they are partially broken down into units. The units that are absorbed quickly include sugar, alcohol, and fiber.
Due to this reason, most parts of the sugar alcohol, and fiber are subtracted from the total number of carbs while calculating net carbs. When on a keto diet, sugar and starches count when calculating net carb. To know how to calculate net carbs for yourself, pay attention to the total carbs in a meal and subtract the sugar alcohol, and fiber content from it.
Fiber is a carb. Your body cannot easily decompose it in the form of insoluble carbs, so it goes through your intestine as it is – without dissolving in your bloodstream giving you energy. That is why it is subtracted when you count net carbs for keto. This particular gram of fiber doesn’t have a carb value with zero calories.
Sugar Alcohols including Erythritol and Xylitol
Sugar alcohol, as the name suggests, tastes sweet but the structure of its molecule is different from the original sugar molecule. Sugar alcohol molecules largely remain indigestible by humans.
While these sugar alcohols are insoluble, they affect your blood sugar badly and if your meals contain the sugar alcohol in large amounts then you should consider it by adding while calculating net carbs. To know more about how to calculate net carbs, see the next part of the article.
How to Calculate Net Carbs for Ketogenic Diet?
A simple basic method to determine the number of net carbs in a meal is:
Sugar Alcohols and Calculating Net Carbs
Many manufactures producing ‘sugar-free’ or ‘low-carb’ foods list the carbs containing sugar alcohols and fibers as if they are not added while calculating the total number of carbs in the product. This makes the carb count lower per gram serving than the product contains.
So, how would you be able to calculate the net carbs when you are on keto and want to control your carb intake? Know what these sugar alcohols are.
What do you need to know about Sugar Alcohols and Calculating Net Carbs?
When counting net carbs for keto, the following sugar alcohols are not usually counted. This means that if you are having something that consists of these sweeteners, don’t add them to your net carb count.
The sugar alcohol list mentioned below do count (as they absorb partially) in your total net carbs:
Every one gram of sorbitol, Maltitol, Glycerin, and Isomalt is considered half a gram when calculating net carbs for keto.
In cases, you are consuming food that contains any of these sugar products, then on calculating net carbs you need to have a slightly different formula. You just have to add all the grams of carbs gained from these ingredients and divide them by two as they are counted as half of their total number.
Net Carbs = Grams of Total Carbs – Sugar Alcohol – Fiber + (maltitol/2)
Sugar alcohol on the other side is non-digestible carbs. To make them decompose partially, your gut bacteria ferment them to a degree so that they can flow through your intestine easily. Due to this reason, many people have difficulty absorbing certain foods containing sugar alcohol.
According to experts, whether you follow a keto diet or not, you should not consume more than 15 grams of sugar alcohol in a single serving. Be specifically cautious while taking maltitol, mannitol, and sorbitol – you possibly end up with digestive disorders.
Why the number of Net Carbs Matters in Keto?
It is necessary to keep the number of carbs under 50g to put your body on ketosis. Ketosis is the stage of your body when you burn fat instead of carbs to use as energy. Reaching the ideal levels of keto is the ultimate goal for people in ketosis. In this state, you will feel enduring energy, fewer cravings with cognitively boosted energy levels. Staying in good health and keeping a healthy weight is one of many benefits of keto.
The problem arises when you consume too many carbs and the increased level of carbohydrates prevents you from obtaining and staying in ketosis. That’s the primary reason why it is important to calculate net carbs and why it matters when you follow a keto diet. Just have more carbs and you will lose the ketosis along with its benefits. While on keto, if you are unable to see its benefits and results while cutting down carbs from your meals, then the only recommendation that we can give you is to look at your insoluble fiber and sugar alcohol consumption and note how much carbs, fats, and sugar you are taking daily.
Whether if you are following any diet or not, an increased amount of carbs can initiate several chronic diseases which may include:
- Sugar spikes in blood
- Food craving
- The shift of gut bacteria
- Hormonal disorders
- Insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome
The reality of the carbs is that they will work fine until they are consumed in moderation. Many people are too good with carbs and their bodies also absorb carbs in no time, this is why many experts suggest having a high carb meal once a week.
On a standard keto diet, you are allowed to have 50 grams of carbs daily, but if your body absorbs carbs more actively then take 150 grams of carbs.
In particular, you also should consider the glycemic index along with your concerns with carbohydrates.
How Glycemic Index affect your Ketosis?
It is always recommended to consider reading the nutritional facts written at the back of your food. This nutrition does not take part in raising your blood sugar when you consume carbs that is why you should not count them in your net carbs.
But you also have to avoid foods that spike your blood sugar like highly insulinogenic carbs food. Their glycemic index (GI) is comparatively higher than other sweetened foods. Foods will have a greater effect on your blood sugar. If you are on keto due to your fat adoption, a single serving of starchy foods can even trigger an insulin response and you may lose your ketosis level.
On ketosis, it is highly suggested to avoid starchy foods like potatoes, pasta, legumes, and carrots. Your GI score will let you know for how long you should avoid starchy foods. These foods are even high in fiber content and make you fuller for a longer period, but they can mess with your insulin levels and might bring you out from ketosis.
The Bottom Line
When you crave food on your ketosis days, some healthy takeaway options from your favorite restaurants can be availed but keep those in days when you are allowed to have high carb foods. Stir-fries are one of the great options due to their rich nutrients and protein content. Moreover, meat, non-starchy vegetables, and soluble fiber foods can also provide healthy nutrients.
With this guide, you may have gotten an idea about how to calculate net carbs when you are on a keto diet and why it matters. Keep your choices healthy and live a healthy life.