how to calculate net carbsDo you really know how many carbs you’re eating in a day?

The way you calculate net carbs depends on where you live in the world.

This is because carbohydrate is broken down into digestible and non-digestible carbs.

What are Net Carbs?

Not all carbohydrate you eat can be digested and so it’s correct to subtract these non-digestible carbs from the total carb count. When I say non-digestible carbs I’m talking about fiber.

In North America carbohydrate amounts are determined by difference. This means that they directly measure only the following:

  1. Protein
  2. Fat
  3. Water
  4. Ash

per 100 grams and whatever is left is deemed to be carbohydrate.

If you’re in North America you must subtract the fiber grams from the carbohydrate grams to arrive at your ‘Net Carbs’. These are the only carbs you need to count towards your daily total. If you hadn’t been doing this already you’ve probably been under-consuming carbohydrate needlessly.

On the other hand, in Europe and Oceania the amount of carbohydrate is determined directly along with all of the above. This means that the amount of carbohydrate displayed on product packaging does not include non-digestible carbohydrate i.e. fiber. So if you’re from this neck of the woods, you count all the carbs that the packaging displays.

What Are Sugar Alcohols / Polyols

I do not recommend that you subtract polyols to arrive at Net Carbs. Many low-carb products contain sugar-alcohols and these are subtracted to report a much lower carb count. While that’s good for marketing, it’s not good for your waistline.

Sugar Alcohols are forms of carbohydrate that are not completely digestible. However, a portion of them are and they do contain calories. The thinking is that since they have a minimal impact on blood sugar, they don’t need to be counted towards your total carb intake. Only 2 sugar alcohols have a glycemic index of 0, they are:

  1. mannitol
  2. erythritol

However, I still don’t advise that you discount these carbs. Other polyols have a low GI rating and still others have an higher GI than orange juice!! – Maltitol Syrup.

Conclusion on Net Carbs

To make it short, if you’re in North America subtract fiber grams and nothing else.

Elsewhere, simply count the carbs displayed on the packaging.

Stay Motivated,

Mark McManus

image credit: matuko amini

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