How to calculate net carbs vs. total carbs — Diet Doctor

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How to calculate net carbs

Have you ever wondered what the dispute is between full carbs and net carbs ? Do you know which matchless is better to track if you ’ re eating a low-carb diet — or if it matters at all ?
This usher will explore these questions to help you understand which set about is right for you .
When you calculate net carbs for wholly natural foods, net carbs are the total carbs in a particular food minus the roughage .

hale foods

net carbs


total carbs


For processed foods, you may need to subtract carbohydrate alcohols vitamin a well ( more on this in the part on boodle alcohols )

Processed foods

net carbs


total carbs


sugar alcohols

Given the calculations, sum carbs are about constantly higher than net carbs. At Diet Doctor, we define the different levels of carbohydrate reduction according to net carbs. Below are our three levels, startified by net carbs and including estimates for full carbs :

  • Strict low carb — less than 20 grams of net carbs (30 grams of total carbs)
  • Moderate low carb — 20 to 50 grams of net carbs (30 to 70 grams of total carbs)
  • Liberal low carb — 50 to 100 grams of net carbs (70 to 130 grams of total carbs)

Our advice

  • Focus on net carbs when eating whole, natural foods such as vegetables, fruit, beans, and legumes.
  • Focus on total carbs when eating processed food products with added fiber, such as bars and baked goods.

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Why measure net instead of total carbs?


The main argue to track final carbs is that dietary fiber doesn ’ triiodothyronine supply calories or affect glucose and insulin the same room as non-fibrous carbs. If you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or fleshiness, scientific tell demonstrates meaning benefit from limiting your carbs. But research besides shows potential benefits from eating fiber. consequently, one helpful overture could be to eat high-fiber foods that are low in net carbs, such as low-carb vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, and zucchini .
Here are some examples:

  • Half of an avocado has 9 grams of total carbs, but only 2 of those grams are net carbs because 7 grams are fiber carbs. 
  • One cup of broccoli has 11 grams of total carbs, 6 grams of net carbs plus 5 grams of fiber carbs. 
  • Two-thirds of a cup of raspberries has 11.5 grams of total carbs, made up of 5 grams of net carbs and 6.5 grams of fiber carbs. 

If you enjoy a lunch made with chicken second joint, avocado, broccoli, and raspberries, you would eat 31.5 grams of entire carbs, of which 13 grams are net carbs and 18.5 grams are fiber. That means you would — with equitable this meal — reach your daily carb limit if you follow a diet aim for 30 grams of full carbs .
But if you follow a diet draw a bead on for 20 grams of final carbs, you have some room to add high-fiber carbs at dinner and potentially benefit from the excess character intake .
That ’ s why our recommendation is to track internet carbs when eating whole, unprocessed foods. Fiber international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate equitable “ release ” from a calorie and blood sugar perspective ; it ’ south potentially beneficial for weight unit loss, blood sugar dominance, and short-run repletion. And tracking web carbs lets you eat more roughage !
See if some of your favorites are on our list of the clear 15 high-fiber, low-carb foods .

Why measure total carbs?

It ’ randomness easier to measure total carbs — no subtraction necessary !
The profit of measuring sum carbs is most apparent when it comes to manufactured or packaged products .
The effect of the natural insoluble character found in fruit and veggies is well known and has been well-studied. It ’ second called insoluble fiber because your body doesn ’ t absorb it at all. Naturally-occurring soluble character is a little unlike. soluble fiber forms a mousse and increases the viscosity of the digested food. While some soluble fiber may get absorbed, it is more probable that it gets fermented by gut bacteria. consequently, soluble fiber can contribute a small numeral of calories, but it doesn ’ t normally impact blood carbohydrate and insulin significantly .
however, the fiber added to packaged food products is much the kind of soluble roughage that can contribute to increases in rake boodle and insulin .
For example, isomaltooligosaccharide ( IMO ) significantly raises rake boodle and insulin levels. Food manufacturers often count IMO as character and subtract it from entire carbs to marketplace a low-net-carb merchandise. unfortunately, your body will not agree .
other examples of lend fibers are inulin, xanthan gum, tapioca character, and chicory root. While none of these will likely cause the same adverse reaction as IMO, we still recommend caution as many of these lend fibers have not been extensively studied .
Because of the undesirable electric potential effects of these ingredients, we recommend counting net carbs for whole natural foods and full carbs for processed food products .

Pro tip

Outside the US, most nutrition labels remove fiber from the total carb count, mechanically reporting net carbs. then make sure you read the label cautiously. If it has IMO in the ingredients, the label may not reflect carb content accurately .

Sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols don ’ t occur in meaning quantities in lifelike foods. however, they ’ rhenium common in processed food products and bake goods .
Some, like erythritol, do not meaningfully contribute any calories or affect blood sugar. however, xylitol and mannitol can make a small contribution, while maltitol, sorbitol, isomalt, and glycerin make a more significant contribution .


When it comes to net income versus entire carbs, our advice is simple :

  • Count net carbs for whole foods. merely subtract the naturally-occurring character from the sum carbs .
  • Count total carbs for packaged or processed foods, and sample to stay away from products that have IMO or maltitol .

What if you eat a mix of hale foods and processed foods ? You can target a in-between point between your net carb and full carb goals. It may not be an claim science but should get you close .

For the next step, consider reading our related guides
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