What are net carbs?

This is the latest thing from food companies. This food has 3 net carbs in it. But what are net carbs? What does that mean? I actually had to look this up because I hadn’t really heard of it until I bought some tortillas that said it had 5 net carbs on it. Even then I didn’t look it up. I looked it up because this net carb trend I feel like has exploded since the pandemic started.

So that begs the question, what are net carbs? They are determined by taking the amount of carbs in the product and subtracting the amount of dietary fiber the product has to get you your net carb. So if the food you buy has 20 grams of carbs and 10 grams of fiber the net carbs of that food would be 10. That’s what gets smacked on the front of the package.

Sounds great right? Not exactly. There are a couple problems with net carbs. First, it’s a made up term by the food industry to sell their products as keto friendly. If you don’t know what keto is, it’s a low carb diet. The FDA literally has no guidelines on the term net carbs.

Second issue. The food that has 20 grams of carbs is 80 calories. The food label has to say 80 calories. The problem is the food company is claiming that the food has 10 net carbs. Those carbs would equal 40 calories. The package can’t say it’s 40 calories though due to FDA guidelines. Those 10 grams of fiber you are eating are still calories. Yes, fiber gets eliminated as waste but fiber is way more complicated than saying there are 10 grams of fiber in this food so it’s just 40 wasted calories that don’t need to be counted.

This leads us to the third issue. If you are tracking your macro nutrients (Proteins, carbs, and fats) You will be keeping track incorrectly. Why? If you allow yourself 100 grams of carbs (made up number) and you only count 10 carbs but in reality you are eating 20 grams of carbs. So at the end of the day you are actually under counting carbs. This means you could potentially stall out your progress because you are eating to much. 

Yes, its great you are getting that extra fiber in your diet but in reality those fiber carbs still count. So what are net carbs then? They are a way to trick you into thinking you are eating less carbs than you really are. It means literally nothing.

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