Net Carbs are the carbohydrates that get absorbed by the body and will most likely impact your blood sugar levels. These are calculated by checking out a food’s nutrition label and subtracting the listed dietary fiber (and any sugar alcohols*) from the total carbohydrates.
TOTAL CARBS – FIBER = NET CARBS
* Not all sugar alcohols are created equal – some score higher on the Glycemic Index (GI) Scale and CAN spike some people’s blood sugar. Sugar Alcohols with a low to zero score can be subtracted along with fiber, but be cautious when it comes to higher scoring sweeteners like Maltitol or consuming massive amounts of any sugar substitute (even those with a low GI) until you know how it impacts your levels. Learn more about low-impact Sweeteners…
This is useful information for people with blood sugar issues like insulin resistance or diabetes, as well as those wanting to maintain a low carb, especially ketogenic, diet. Check out the USDA’s FoodData Central – a comprehensive search engine for food showing you tons of incredibly valuable nutritional information.
Note: Other countries have different labels. In the UK, for example, the fiber is listed separately so the total carbs ARE the net carbs – no math needed. Unless the food contains sugar alcohols, there won’t be anything to subtract as it’s already done for you.
The Impact of High Fiber
High fiber food has proven time and again to help control blood sugar levels (source) because it slows the release of glucose into your bloodstream, dampening the impact of the overall carbs consumed. This can be very helpful for those suffering from carbohydrate intolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, some people are very sensitive to fiber so while eating whole foods rich in fiber might have a very positive impact for one person, the next might need to pass and consume much lower total carbs per day, including lower fiber. This might also be true for those eating a ketogenic diet to better control neurological disorders, such as seizures.
For me, moderate amounts of fiber is best.
Everyone is different. Every food impacts everyone differently. You eat, you learn, you grow. Start off simple and figure out what works best *for you*.