Are you familiar with the term, Net Carbs? How Do Net Carbs Affect Your Choice of Food?
When the popularity of low carbohydrate diets went up, food manufacturers have used the term “net carbs” on the food labels of their products. If the term is not familiar to you, you may wonder what it means.
Every food product carries a nutrition facts label in which, among other facts, is given the amount of total carbohydrates. Total carbohydrates is calculated by adding up the three types of carbohydrates which are fiber, sugars and starches.
The idea of net carbs is formed due to the fact that dietary fiber is not broken down into blood glucose like sugars and starches although it is one of the three types of carbohydrates. Instead, fiber passes through the digestive system undigested so that it can increase the bulk of your stool. Of course, this is only one of a number of benefits. So, since fiber is a carbohydrate which is not digested, net carbs give you the total of digestible carbohydrates only. For this reason, net carbs are also called “digestible carbs.”
Recently, nutrition facts labels have shown not just total carbohydrates but also net carbs. On these labels, net carbs are given to attract to the products people who suffer from diabetes as well as fans of the low-carbohydrate diet.
Although net carbs is an idea which can made use of when planning diabetes meals, the labels must be read carefully as no FDA regulations have been given on the method of calculating net carbs or the use of the term on labels of food products. As such, what exactly “net carbs” comprise of can be so different from one product to the next. There are manufacturers who remove dietary fiber from the total carbohydrates and call it net carbs. Others show net carbs as total carbohydrates without the sugar alcohols and the dietary fiber. There are those who minus the protein, the sugar alcohols and the dietary fiber from the total carbohydrates to get the net carbs. They are all so different.
A good number of packaged foods are labeled as low-carbohydrate, high-fiber foods. To achieve that, the manufacturers put extra fiber, like maltodextrin, polydextrose and inulin, into their products in order to reduce the amount of net carbs. Many experts on nutrition are of the opinion that such fibers do not bring similar health benefits or positive effects on blood glucose levels as fibers from plants and food. So, the matter of net carbs is not as simple as we think; its use can be manipulated. For diabetics, carbohydrate counting and the control over blood sugar are important matters and so, using net carbs on labels as a guide to the amount of carbohydrate in the food can bring undesirable consequences.
Nevertheless, counting net carbs should be alright for diabetics who employ correctly a technique in meal planning called carbohydrate counting to assist them in controlling their blood glucose levels.
Diabetes Information – How to Count Carbs – Video Guide
Below are instructions for diabetics on the counting of net carbs effectively and safely:
No matter what serving size you intend to have, there must be dietary fiber weighing a minimum of 5 grams in your food.
- Find the total fiber and total carbohydrates for the amount you plan to consume, from the nutrition facts on the label or from the website of the food manufacturer.
- Minus 50 percent of the total fiber from the total amount of carbohydrates to derive at the net carbs in the food you plan to consume.
- Always do this calculation and never depend upon net carb totals given on food labels.
Use the example given below (refer to the given food label):
According to the label, the amount of dietary fiber in the product is 5 grams. If you take away half that quantity, which is 2.5 grams, from the total amount of carbohydrates which is 23 grams, you get 20.5 grams net carbs in each serving.
The purpose of counting net carbs to compare it with total carbohydrates is to get people to consume more food which contains carbohydrates without having to suffer any negative effects on their blood glucose levels. If this matter about net carbs is not clear to you, then you need not use it, especially if counting total carbohydrates is an effective technique for you. In fact, both techniques can be effective if you know how to use them correctly and you do understand “net carb” labels.
Get more particular information or assistance from your medical practitioner. Live advice is also offered by the National Call Center of the American Diabetes Association from 8.30 in the morning to 8 o’clock in the evening, every weekday, at 1-800-342 or 1-800-DIABETES.