If you follow the keto diet, you’re sure to have heard about, read about, and seen the term net carbs frequently. But, what’s the big deal with net carbs? We’re here to give you the rundown on what net carbs are, how to calculate them, and why they’re important to the keto diet.
What are net carbs
There are many definitions about what exactly net carbs are, how to calculate them, and whether calculating them is even necessary for you to be successful on the keto diet. We believe that knowing your net carb count is essential because they directly impact your ability to stay in ketosis, which is the goal of the keto diet.
Net Carbs are the number of carbohydrates left over in your food after subtracting the ones your body can’t digest and convert to glucose such as fiber, rare sugar, and certain sugar alcohol. Other types of carbohydrates don’t digest, but these are the primary ones you will come across. It’s important to note that even though fiber, rare sugar and sugar alcohol typically don’t convert to glucose, there are exceptions to every rule, so take this only as a general guideline.
All carbohydrates are not created equally. That’s why you only need to focus on your intake of carbohydrates that convert into glucose. Those are the carbs you want to count because if you consume too many, your body won’t remain in a state of ketosis.
How to calculate net carbs
If you look at a food label, it will show the total carbohydrates in grams along with the total sugars and sometimes the sugar alcohol count directly beneath it. You have to subtract the dietary fiber and sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrates. That provides you with your net carbs.
For example, if you eat broccoli, you’ll find that 1 cup has 6 grams of carbohydrates and 2.4 grams of fiber. Instead of eating the cup of broccoli and attributing all 6 grams to your total carb intake, you subtract the 2.4 grams of fiber. That leaves you with 3.6 net carbs. Now you’re able to consume more carbohydrates.
Recommended net carbs on keto
The general recommendation for net carb intake on the keto diet is 20 grams or less per day. The number can vary based on your weight, gender, and fitness goals. You can use a macronutrient calculator to determine your specific recommendations or consult with a dietician.
How net carbs play into the keto diet
Now you know what net carbs are, how to calculate them, and the recommended number of net carbs. Do you know why knowing this number is so important? Here’s a simple explanation.
As you know, the keto diet is a macronutrient restricting diet (link to the macronutrient diet here) requiring that you consume a low amount of carbohydrates and a high level of fats. By reducing your carb intake, you are depriving your body of energy producing glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. Since your body can’t produce glucose due to a lack of carbs, you enter a state of ketosis and use your fat to produce ketones, an alternative energy source.
It’s essential that you track your net carbs to ensure your body isn’t producing glucose and instead produces ketones from your fat. This, in essence, leads to weight-loss as your stored fat turns into energy.
To be successful on the keto diet, you want to ensure that you know not only the rules of the diet but also the reason why the guidelines are in place. Knowing the keto carb recommendations can help you implement this diet, stay consistent, and be successful in achieving your health and fitness goals.
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