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What Are Net Carbs and Should You Be Counting Them?

Wondering about net carbs? You aren’t alone. Check out this information for everything you need to know about what net carbs are and how they factor into your diet plan.

Net carbs are something that may come up from time to time as you move through your weight loss program. When you look at the package for many carb containing foods, you may notice it says that it contains ‘x’ amount of net carbs. Usually these are diet focused foods, so you likely think that this should be important to you.

If you are still feeling confused over what net carbs are, not to worry, it really isn’t a hard concept and you can decide for yourself whether this is something you want to count.

Let’s give you the facts you need to know.

What Are Net Carbs?

Net carbs are essentially carbs that deliver your body the full four calories per gram of carbohydrate. If you take a tablespoon of sugar for instance, which contains 46 calories and 12 grams of sugar, you are going to get 12 net carbs from that sugar. All of the grams of carbohydrates are available to your body for energy, thus they must be included in your overall calorie intake.

On the other hand, if you eat an apple, you are going to take in about 14 grams of carbs, of which 2.4 of those are dietary fiber.

Now, dietary fiber actually only contributes about 2 calories per gram to your total daily calorie intake so you only net 2 calories from each gram. Therefore, your total net carbs from that apple will be slightly less because of this fiber content.

Some of the fiber you consume is simply moved out of the body, therefore these are not technically counted as part of your total daily calorie intake.

Which Foods Contain Net Carbs?

So which foods contain net carbs that you need to concern yourself with? Usually the main foods containing net carbs are those that have sugar alcohols added to them (a form of sweetener that contains calories and carbs, but is not absorbed by the body) as well as very high fiber foods. These foods may state that they contain a high amount of carbohydrates, but the reality is that your body simply won’t absorb those carbs, thus they don’t provide you the same level of calories that you think they do.

Should You Count Net Carbs?

So should you count these? At the end of the day, it’s really up to you. When it comes to dietary fiber, given that each gram of fiber supplies around 2 calories per gram, the extra 2 calories that get ‘wasted’ so to speak really isn’t going to amount to much. If a food has 5 grams of fiber, that mean that you’ll actually net about 10 calories fewer from that food than you thought. At the end of the day, this really isn’t all that much. Yes, it will add up, but you can just as easily not count it and have it be a bonus for your intake.

If you are eating a snack food that does contain quite a bit of sugar alcohol and therefore has quite a bit fewer net carbs, then you may count this one particular food. Generally you don’t need to worry about counting net carbs for your entire diet though, unless you are using an exceptionally low calorie and carb plan.

So there you have the facts about net carbs to know and remember. Hopefully now you understand the full picture of these.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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