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Total Carbs vs. Net Carbs - What should you know?

Blog #283

For people with diabetes, it's important to watch how many carbohydrates you eat at one time. If you’re following a carb-counting meal plan, counting carbohydrates is pretty easy if the food you’re eating has a Nutrition Facts Label. You simply find the grams of Total Carbohydrates listed on the Label and factor them into your meal plan. Simple, right? Not so fast.

Many products list "Net Carbs" on their labels.

Net carbs = Total Carbohydrates - Fiber - Sugar Alcohols.

These companies are suggesting that fiber and sugar alcohols have no impact on blood sugar. However, fiber and sugar alcohols still have calories (about 2 calories per gram). Because the body cannot completely digest them, some fibers and sugar alcohols are partially digested and absorbed. This means they still raise blood sugar.





You need a good meal plan that works for you!


The American Diabetes Association Recommends:


If you have Type 1 Diabetes and do not use an insulin-to-carbs ratio (ICR) or if you have Type 2 Diabetes:



  • Count the Total Carbohydrates listed on the Nutrition Facts Label.

  • Do not subtract any fiber or sugar alcohols.

If you have Type 1 Diabetes and use an insulin-to-carbs (ICR) ratio:


If fiber is AT LEAST 5g or more, you subtract HALF the amount of fiber from the total carbohydrates:

  • Example: If your food has 20g of total carbs and 5g of fiber, you can subtract 2.5g of fiber from the total carbohydrates = 17.5g Total Carbs.

  • If your food has 20g of total carbs and 4g of fiber, you don't subtract anything.


If sugar alcohols are AT LEAST 10g or more, you subtract HALF the amount of sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrates:

  • Example: If your food has 20g of total carbs and 10g sugar alcohol, you can subtract 5g of sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrates = 15g Total Carbs.

  • If your food has 20g of total carbs and 8g sugar alcohol, you don't subtract anything.


Net Carbs (unfortunately) is a term that was created by the food industry. There is not enough research to support counting only the "net carbs." Companies which promote net carbs also tend to send the wrong message: "I can eat as much as I want!"


Moderation is still key to managing blood sugars, so try to stick within your recommended carbohydrate intake per meal and snack.




Focus on eating the “Healthy – Good Carbs” instead of the “Not so Healthy Bad Carbs”.


Eat Healthy, Exercise Daily, Stay Healthy!

You only have one body to live in! So live long and prosper!

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