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What is the difference between net carbs and total carbs?

What Is The Difference Between Net Carbs And Total Carbs?

Have you ever noticed why food manufacturers mention the amount of carbs in terms of “net carbs” instead of total carbs on the labels of a product? Earlier, many dieters used to consider both the terms same, and for them, carbs were just ‘carbs’; but eventually they realized that this is not right. Confusing? Isn’t it? Well, let us help you in understand the difference between the two terms. It is important to know especially if you’re following a ketogenic diet or if you live your life by keeping a count of how much calories you consume every day.

All the carbohydrates we take in our diet are converted into the glucose during the process of digestion which later becomes part of our bloodstream. The internal organs decide whether to use the said glucose as an energy source or should they be stored for later use.

What does the Glucose do in our Body?

The glucose is either stored in the form of glycogen (a starch) or fat since the body has limited capacity to store it in glycogen. As the sugar level becomes high in the body, pancreas starts to release insulin in the blood which takes up the excess glucose and stores it as fat. Insulin plays a key role in inhibiting or stimulating the synthesis of fat cells. If you keep insulin level low, it helps to burn the body fat by consuming glucose instead of storing it in the body. For weight management process, blood glucose level should be monitored, but one optimum blood sugar level can’t fix for all as everybody has a different need for carbs.

What are net carbs?

All carbohydrates do not affect the body in the same way. Some simple carbohydrates like starches or sugar are absorbed in the body and make high glycemic index by raising the blood sugar level. This triggers high insulin level to use it or store it while other carbohydrates like fiber found in fruits, vegetables and whole grain absorb slowly in the body and much of it does not digest at all. Also, the largely indigestible carbohydrates are sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and other modified alcohols that resemble sugar but have minimal impact on blood sugar levels. So, insulin level remains steady at a low, baseline level. Hence, net carbs are defined as the total amount of carbohydrate minus the dietary fiber count.

what are net carbs

What are total carbs?

The calculation of total carbohydrate is simple; just add the fiber with the net carbs. It is important to consider the total carbohydrates on a food product when you are planning to eat a healthy diet.

Impactful vs. Non-Impactful crabs

As the name shows non-impactful carbs have little to no effect on blood sugar level, also known as low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates such as fiber, sorbitol, glycerol and maltitol and they are considered in low-carb diets. Fiber is thought to be completely indigestible and passes through the body unused while body digests sugar alcohol to a little extent, and they do not impact on blood sugar level, but provide more sustained energy. In keto diet, your majority carbs should be non-impact.

Impactful carbs or high GI carbs are those that have a high effect on blood glucose level are digested rapidly and quickly elevate the blood glucose level. Sweet foods and refined carbohydrates are naturally high on the GI scale and immediate exercise is required on their intake, otherwise, it will be stored as fat. Impactful carbs should be avoided in ketosis. Impact carbs can also be into two basic groups, simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs tend to rapid breakdown while the complex carbs as the name shows are more complex in structure takes a longer time to convert into the glucose.

Healthy Carbs Balance Guide:

When you heard the word carbohydrate, the first image pops up in your mind may be a bowl of baked potatoes or pasta and a plate of rice. This is the right click but there are many other nutritious foods that are rich in carbs like legumes, fruits as well as in less nutritional value food like biscuits, cake, and candy.

Carbs are one of three macronutrients that are important to your health for the number of reasons. It is the richest form of energy in the form of calories as 1 gram of carbohydrates consists of 4 calories. About 50 to 60 percent of total daily calories should gain from carbohydrates. The carbohydrate intake of a person directly relates to its calorie needs that depend on many factors.

  • Height
  • Current weight and weight history
  • Physical activity
  • Food habits and daily schedule
  • Blood lipid levels
  • Blood glucose level


The SACN reported in its carbohydrate and health report that 50 percent of your calorie intake should come from carbohydrates and should not consume greater than 5% of dietary energy from free sugars or sweetened beverages.

For healthy balance carb diet:

  • Choose basmati rice, pasta or noodles can be a good option but do not add frozen chips into it.
  • Choose whole meal for roti and add dhal (lentils) in your meals.
  • Instead of old potatoes try new potatoes or sweet potatoes for a change.
  • Use pumpernickel or rye bread instead of white bread.
  • For breakfast, try porridge, natural muesli, wholegrain, and cereals. Avoid cornflakes or puffed rice cereal

How many carbs are allowed in a keto diet?

People with type2 diabetes or willingness to lose weight will be likely to find the best results on keto diet or keeping carbs very low. To start, they may experience some keto side effects like keto flu until their body is adapted to burning fat but people with good insulin sensitivity and less weight are unlikely to experience any side effects.

For most people, keeping total carbs below 35g and net carbs less than 35g are ideal and they will get them into deep ketosis about a week.


The decision on whether to choose total or net carbs should be based solely on the goals you wish to attain and your overall health. So, you should know how macronutrients affect the human body and make personal adjustments to all types of carbohydrates, such as starch, fiber, and sugar alcohols to achieve your goals. The term "net carbs" does not have any legal definition, recommended by the FDA or the American Diabetes Association. When you see this term on a label, you should read all nutrition facts and ingredients list on the label for complete information. Do not count carbs, if you are not on intensive insulin management, but if you are on intensive insulin management, you should count carbs, and manage your diabetes with carb-to-insulin ratios.




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