How To Calculate Net Carbs and What They Are

Net CarbsWe all have heard about Net and Effective Carbs. But what are they and what is all the fuss about? Let’s get something straight right away. The carbohydrates are not all created equal. I know it sounds discriminatory and I feel for them, but that is just the way it is. To file your complain, mail your letters to Carbohydrate Civil Rights Department, 24 South Carb street, Carbohydrate City, CC 14575

When digested, most carbohydrate turns into glucose, hence the name – digestible carbohydrate. Your body also digests some “sneaky” carbs, but they refuse to turn into glucose (glycerin is one example). The real “rebels” (fiber) put out a good fight and are not digested at all.

These non-metabolized and non-digestible carbohydrates, often referred as “Net” or “Effective” carbs, but it is the same thing. Even thought fiber is counted and included on food labels as carbohydrate, it is not absorbed, and has no impact on your blood-sugar levels.

To calculate the net, or effective, carbohydrate content of a food, subtract the number of grams of fiber from the number of grams of carbohydrate. For example, 1 cup of blackberries has 14 grams of carbs, but almost 8 grams of it comes from fiber. Total Carbs – Fiber = Net Carbohydrate or in our example, 14 grams – 8 grams = 6 grams of net carbs.

Now go eat some berries. They are really good for you, low-carb and high in all important fiber. What more can you ask for?

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20 Responses to “How To Calculate Net Carbs and What They Are”

  1. Kim Says:

    Why does this blurb not mention anything about sugar alchohol? Doesn’t that need to also be subtracted?


  2. sue Says:

    sugar alcohols must be subtracted for net carbs. Why have you not done this? Is there something new on this I am not aware of?


  3. cindy Says:

    Where do you find the sugar alcohols and do you take this away after you have subtracted proteiN?


  4. iFit&Healthy.com Says:

    If a product contains sugar alcohols, it is listed on the nutrition label. Protein has nothing to do with sugar alcohols. You subtract sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrate count.


  5. Bevanne Says:

    What does net carbs mean, does it mean it’s not as fattening if it has low net carbs?


  6. froggie Says:

    Same as everyone has said, sugar alcohols are subtracted as well. Not sure why this article did not mention that. Cindy, protein should not be subtracted from the net count.


  7. Vi Says:

    How is 2 Net Carbs figured on the Atkins Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp Bar? It says there is a total of 14G of carbohydrate & 6G fiber. No sugar alcohols, but glycerin is mentioned in the ingredients. Input would be appreciated.


  8. Eddie G Says:

    I bought some Anasazi beans that list 22G of Carbs and 45G of Fiber, what would be the net Carbs?


  9. iFit&Healthy.com Says:

    As far as I can tell, one serving of Anasazi beans (1/2 cup) contains 54 g total carbs and 18 g fiber, which comes out to 36 g net carbs.


  10. hmac Says:

    What is the difference in net carbs and digestible carbs? Can you eat the dreamfield pasta on the Atkins diet?


  11. iFit&Healthy.com Says:

    The digestible carbs are the net carbs. It is just a fancy name some manufactures use to describe the net carbs. Can you eat the Dreamfields pasta on Atkins? You probably can, but nobody can tell you for sure. Try it and see how your body responds. You are not going to derail your dieting effort by eating even the real pasta once in a while. I have heard from people on Atkins that they eat the Dreamfields pasta twice a week, but again, different people respond in different ways. The best way to find out is to try it yourself.


  12. DAJo Says:

    Any sugars and or sugar alcohols are counted in with the carbohydrates. There is no need to count them separately. If you look at a nutrition label you will see what makes up the carbs listed below the Total Carb line. It can include dietary fiber, soluble fiber, sugar, sugar alcohol, and other carbs.


  13. Tink Says:

    So, on a box of Atkins Caramel Double Chocolate Crunch bars, it claims 3 net carbs but on the box, 22 g of carbs less 11 sugar alcohols equals 11 less 1 fiber equals 10. How do you get those pesky other seven out of there? Is there some allowance or special formula for high protein foods?


  14. JD Says:

    If you all would focus on eating real food, not processed stuff sold to you by companies preying on your willingness to follow any food fad just to shed a few pounds (which you’ll gain back the second you stop following their stupid diet) you wouldn’t have to worry about all this. Eat fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Eat lean proteins. Drink water. Don’t eat food if you can’t pronounce or have no idea what the ingredients are. Don’t drink all your calories in soda. And don’t be duped into thinking that you have to buy special food. THe only special food you have to buy is REAL FOOD.


  15. LaVonna Says:

    We had gone out to dinner, was trying to figure out how to count the carbohydrates for my husbands insulin pump, but the restaurant only had the net carbs listed, not total carbs of the meal. I don’t see us figuring total carbs out of net carbs, talk about confusing!


  16. Shannon Says:

    I’ve wondered that about the Atkins brand products myself. Many of them show the net carbs on the front but if you do the math on the nutrition label it doesn’t sync. I’ve just been trusting the net carbs on the front.


  17. Sam Says:

    Subtract fiber and sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are like sugar in some ways, but they are not completely absorbed by the body. Because of this, the blood sugar impact of sugar alcohols is less and they provide fewer calories per gram. On Atkins, they subtract fiber and sugar alcohol to get net carbs.


  18. Pete Says:

    Sugar alcohols seem contentious as far as I can tell. Some people may be able to subtract them, others not. But is seems to me these manipulated carbs are very dubious. It looks to me like a quick fix – you can still restrict carbs while eating these sweet foods. A typical reaction in our society today. But it is surely better just to eat natuarally occurring low carb foods – it’s not really that hard. Why do we always want our cake and eat it too? Cheers, The Captn.


  19. Scotty B Says:

    In response to Vi’s question above (How is 2 Net Carbs figured on the Atkins Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp Bar? It says there is a total of 14G of carbohydrate & 6G fiber. No sugar alcohols, but glycerin is mentioned in the ingredients. Input would be appreciated.):

    Net carbs = Total Carbs – Dietary Fiber – Sugar Alcohols + Sugars
    Net carbs = 14g – 8 – 5 + 1 = 2 grams net carbs

    I was looking at my wrapper (same exact product, as a matter of fact) and wondered the same question, then came to this site for answers, and from here I guess I figured it out.

    Note the difference between “Sugars” and “Sugar Alcohols”. Sugars can be digested in the lower intestine and often coverted into fats, while Sugar Alcohols are considered by some to be neither sugars nor alcohols but something in between and are therefore not metabolized list sugars can be.

    That’s why for purposes of calculating “net carbs”, Sugars remain in the net carb total but Sugar Alcohols do not. Of course, a “net carb” is not a real thing/carb but is instead a total of the carbs most likely for your body to digest and convert into fats rather than simply flushing through you (as many fibers do).

    And before I forget, Protein grams have nothing to do with “net carb” counts, and the body metabolizes and converts them differently than it does carbs. Animal proteins bind differently than vegetable proteins to cells in the body, which result in whatever complex cells you have floating around in your body for good or for bad.

    Lastly, remember that Protein grams and Carb grams both generally require 4 calories each to burn, while Fat (the f-word here) grams require 9 cals to burn (more than twice as many)!! It’s easy to see that if you can get more of your energy from Proteins (rather than fats) while trimming the amount of ‘fattable’ carbs, you can probably achieve some impressive results over time! Even more if you just add EXERCISE to your daily routine!! I’m no dietician, but boy it’s fun writing up what I’ve read from a number of sites tonight! Hope this helps.


  20. Cherrybomb Says:

    When calculating net carbs on the peanut butter fudge bar, why did you take the total net carbs, which is inclusive of sugars, subtract fiber, subtract sugar alcohol then add sugar if it’s already inclusive in the tota carbs? I don’t eat processed food often at all on low carb diets, usually just when I’m craving sweets. Shouldn’t the bar be only 1g of net carbs?


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