Net Carbs: What Are They and Why Are They So Important for Keto?
The first thing anyone learns about Keto is that carbs are the enemy. But while you should generally avoid carbs, it’s more nuanced than that. Eating carbs on Keto isn’t as cut and dry as you might think. Some carbs are okay, while you should avoid others at all cost. It all comes down to whether your body can convert the carbs into glucose.
To figure out which carbs are acceptable and which ones you need to stay far away from on Keto, you need to learn how to calculate net carbs.
What are Net Carbs?
Net carbs are the grams of carbs in food that your body converts to glucose. But not all carbs are digestible. Fiber, for instance, is a type of carbohydrate that passes straight through your body. As a result, your body won’t turn it into glucose—fiber doesn’t count towards your daily carb intake. For this reason, individuals on a Keto diet should focus on net carbs because those are the ones that actually count.
Calculate net carbs by following this simple formula: total carbs minus fiber equals net carbs. That’s all there is to it!
Net Carbs vs. Total Carbs
Many people who go Keto make the mistake of cutting carbs altogether. However, you only have to cut out the carbs that your body burns for energy. Sugar and flour are high-carb ingredients that trigger an insulin response. Your metabolism converts these carbs into glucose, and insulin helps cells absorb glucose as the primary energy source.
Total carbs are the combination of digestible and indigestible carbs in a food product. This includes sugar, fiber and every other type of carbohydrates. Nutrition labels usually list the total carbs, but it’s up to you to calculate a food’s net carbs. Depending on the grams of fiber, a food may contribute less to your daily carb intake than you think!
Fiber is a Special Exception
As you’ve learned by now, fiber doesn’t count towards the 20 to 50 grams of carbs you’re allowed to eat per day on Keto. Eating high-fiber foods won’t necessarily kick you out of ketosis as long as the net carbs remain very small. Contrary to popular belief, you can easily pursue a keto diet while giving the body the fiber it needs.
It’s a good thing fiber doesn’t count because your body needs it! There are several different types of fiber, each with their own health benefits. Soluble fiber absorbs water to bulk up stool and make you feel full. This in turn satiates hunger and cuts back on sugar cravings. By contrast, insoluble fiber keeps things moving along at a regular pace.
Always Pay Attention to Net Carbs!
Don’t let counting carbs intimidate you. All you have to do is subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbs! The information you need to calculate net carbs is on the back of every food product. Otherwise, a quick search can tell you the net carbs in whole foods like fruits and vegetables. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
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