How to Calculate Net Carbs

Various Foods Representing Carbohydrates

Since not all carbs are created equal, it’s important to understand the different types of carbs and how your body processes them – as well as other ways that your body can get fuel to perform. It’s also important to know how to keep track of your daily intake so you can achieve your healthy eating goals. In this article, we break it all down for you including why and how to calculate net carbs to stay on track with healthy eating and weight loss. 

What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in natural and processed foods, and are often the body’s main source of energy in the standard American diet. They occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, and grains and are broken down into three types: sugar, starch, and fiber. While sugar is considered a simple carbohydrate, starch and fiber are considered complex carbohydrates because they are made of many sugar units bonded together.

To put it simply, carbs are one type of fuel for our bodies. After consumption, most carbs are turned into glucose for energy. This is why you often hear about high-performance athletes “carbo-loading” before an event. However, when more carbs are consumed than the body can burn, the carbs are stored as fat; this is why carb-heavy diets are linked to weight gain, and other diets – such as keto – are increasing in popularity.

Carbohydrates from vegetables, fruit, and nuts are unprocessed and contain fiber, which has been shown to have several health benefits. Refined carbs, however, from foods like white bread, pastries, and sugary sodas, are processed to have the fiber removed and cause spikes in blood sugar levels. These refined carbs are often referred to as “empty calories” since they provide no nutritional benefits.

Why To Calculate Net Carbs

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that carbohydrates should account for 45-65% of daily calorie intake. However, these guidelines don’t account for other diets that are aimed at providing alternative sources of fuel to your body. A keto diet, for example, provides the body with fuel from fat, another macronutrient. While on a keto diet, limiting the carbs you consume allows your body to burn fat for energy, leading many people to experience weight loss. 

For those following a keto diet or other carb-restricting diet, counting net carbs is extremely helpful because some carbs are processed differently in the body than others. That’s why counting net carbs has grown in popularity among those trying to take a mindful approach to carbohydrate intake. To put it simply, some carbohydrates are absorbed into your bloodstream without spiking your blood sugar levels.

How to Calculate Net Carbs

The simplest formula for calculating net carbs is: Total Carbs – Fiber. This is because fiber, while technically a carb, is not absorbed by the body.

That said, some foods contain other ingredients that factor into the equation. For example, we calculate the net carbs in our EVER BETTER™ Protein Cookie Bites by subtracting total fiber and allulose (a naturally-occurring and calorie-free sweetener) from total carbs. Unlike traditional cookie bites, which typically have 20g of net carbs per serving, our healthier cookie bites have just 4g of net carbs.

While the recommended daily intake of net carbs will vary for each individual based on factors such as age, weight, gender, and activity level, those following a keto diet typically aim for 20g or less per day.

In Summary: 

  • When it comes to overall health some carbs are better than others.
  • Calculating net carbs is a great way to help you stay mindful of how many and what types of carbs you are eating.
  • The simplest net carb calculation is Total Carbs – Fiber, although some foods contain other ingredients that should be factored in.

There are foods out there that can satisfy your sweet tooth while helping you to hit your net carb goals. For example, EVER BETTER™ Protein Cookie Bites have just 4g of net carbs per serving.