Table of contents:
Video: Total Carbs And Net Carbs: What's The Difference Between Them?
You are happy, when shopping you come across packaged foods, reflecting the number of total and net carbs. Even though you cook with no carbs flours and the low FODMAP diet is on your table, the term "net carbs" is not officially recognized or accepted by nutrition experts. Whether counting net or total carbs is a controversial topic when it comes to how low they are. Fortunately, knowing how your body processes different types of carbohydrates can help you reach your blood sugar, weight loss, and health goals. Read on to get a clear picture of the problem.
Total and net carbs: can we compare them?
When we talk about the ketogenic diet, we cannot ignore the carbohydrate intake, but by how much and can we find a difference between total carbohydrates and net carbohydrates? Due to conflicting and outdated information, figuring out how to calculate net carbs can be confusing.
Assuming that total carbohydrates are nothing more than the total number consumed during the day, you can realize that there is no comparison. In short, if the allowable 20g of total carbohydrate does not threaten your health, it makes sense to consider that it must be the daily intake not to be exceeded. Limit yourself and cut down on sugar if you are on a zero-carb diet because of cancer or epilepsy. To get the amount of net (digestible) carbohydrate, take out fiber and sugar alcohols (if any) from the total carbohydrates. Stated another way, if you have 100g of apples and they have 13.81g of carbs and 2.40g of fiber, a simple math gives 11.41g of net carbs.
What are net (digestible) carbohydrates and why count them?
Net carbs are sometimes referred to as digestible or impact carbs. The terms refer to the carbohydrates absorbed by the body, including simple and complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, contain one or two linked sugar units and are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, sugar, honey, and syrup.
Complex carbohydrates, they contain many sugar units linked together in a food synergy and are found in grains and starchy vegetables such as potatoes.
When you eat a food that contains carbohydrates, most of them are broken down into individual sugar units by enzymes produced in your small intestine. Your body can only absorb individual units of sugar. However, some carbohydrates cannot be broken down into individual sugars, while others are only partially broken down and absorbed. These include fiber and sugar alcohols. For this reason, most fiber and sugar alcohols can be subtracted from total carbs when calculating net carbs.
How does your body deal with fibrous carbohydrates?
Fiber is a unique form of carbohydrate in terms of digestion and its effects on your body.
Unlike starch and sugar, natural fibers are not absorbed in your small intestine. This is because the bonds between sugar units cannot be broken by enzymes in your digestive tract. Therefore, the fiber passes directly into the colon, and its fate after that depends on its type.
Considering that there are two main categories of fiber: insoluble and soluble, that is, about two-thirds that you consume is insoluble, while the other third is soluble.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and creates larger stools. This is a good prevention for constipation. This type of fiber leaves the colon unaffected, provides no calories, and has no effect on insulin levels.
In contrast, soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel that slows down the movement of appetite suppressant foods through your system and creates a feeling of fullness.
After arriving in the colon, soluble fiber is fermented into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by bacteria. These SCFAs keep your gut healthy.
In short, natural fibers are not absorbed in the small intestine, but in the colon, the intestinal bacteria ferment the soluble fibers into SCFAs, which in turn provide a minimum of calories and have neutral or beneficial effects on blood sugar levels..
How does your body deal with sugary and alcoholic carbohydrates?
Sugar alcohols are treated the same as fiber, with a few important differences. Much of them are only partially absorbed in the small intestine and there are many variations between the different types. Researchers report that the small intestine absorbs 2-90% of sugar alcohols. However, some are only briefly absorbed into the bloodstream and then excreted in the urine. Additionally, these sugar alcohols can have varying effects on blood sugar and insulin levels, although all are considerably lower than sugar.
The most common sugar alcohols
Here is a list of the glycemic and insulin indexes of the most common sugar alcohols. In comparison, the glucose indexes are both 100.
Erythritol: glycemic index 0, insulin index 2
Isomalt: glycemic index 9, insulin index 6
Maltitol: glycemic index 35, insulin index 27
Sorbitol: glycemic index 9, insulin index 11
Xylitol: glycemic index 13, insulin index 11
In terms of net carbs, erythritol seems to be the better choice. About 90% of it is absorbed in the small intestine and then excreted in the urine. The remaining 10% is fermented into SCFA in the colon, making it essentially carbohydrate-free, calorie-free, and unlikely to cause digestive upset.
The formula for calculating net carbs in whole and processed foods is the same.
Good vs bad carbs
In the changing world of nutrition, carbohydrates seem to be seen as the "bad guys". In many programs, carbohydrates are considered one of the main contributors to weight gain and are most often kept to a minimum or eliminated.
However, carbohydrates play an essential role in our body's energy development processes. Whether you are an athlete, regular at the gym, or just a very busy person, carbohydrates are essential for your systems to function properly. Just like with fat, not all sources of carbohydrate are created the same.
Picture this: You can lose weight, get healthier and stronger, and feel better, all while still eating carbohydrates. Is it true ? Yes, absolutely! You can surely lose weight by eating carbs, but that is only if you eat the right healthy carbs. The list is long but here are a few.
Brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, oats, whole fruit, barley, whole wheat paste, acorn squash, legumes, whole bread, black beans, oatmeal, kamut flour, chocolate milk, bananas, cherries, apples, broccoli, blueberries, buckwheat, teff flour, amaranth, spinach, wheat bran, triticale.