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How to Figure Out Net Carbs: Counting Carbs for Keto and Other Low Carb Diets

Starting a new eating plan and confused about what a carb is or how to figure out your daily net carb intake? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Researching stuff like carbohydrates can get complex and way too technical very fast. It’s easy to get wrapped up in words like “xylitol” and “glycemic index” before you even fully understand what a carb is!

Lucky for you, we’re a bunch of health-food fanatics here at Within/Without. Our team has done the research and simplified the situation on how to eat healthy at home so that anyone can handle carb counting for Keto and other low carb diets. Save this handy guide so you can make sure your carb intake is on-point and fibrous enough to give you the energy you need for your healthy lifestyle.

What Exactly is a Carbohydrate, Anyway?

If you’re trying to learn how to figure out net carbs, you have to understand what it is you’re calculating first. Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients, the other two being protein and fat. Carbs, like fats, get a bad reputation, but they’re your body’s main source of energy and essential to a healthy diet.

Simply put, carbs are all the sugars, starches and fibers found in food. Your body breaks them down to create glucose, which is then used for energy.

Just like fats, there are “good” carbs that contribute to a healthy diet and give your body the fuel it needs, and “bad” carbs which give your body energy in short bursts but are often refined and low in vitamins and nutrients.

  • “Bad” carbs are simple carbohydrates or monosaccharides. They contain two sugars: lactose from dairy or sucrose from sugar. Examples of foods that contain these types of carbs are processed foods such as white bread, soda and pastries that aren’t great in abundance but fine in moderation.
  • “Good” carbs are complex carbohydrates or polysaccharides. They contain three or more sugars and you can find them in foods like corn, squash, lentils, beans and potatoes.

While this may seem pretty straightforward, if you’re carb counting for Keto it gets a little more interesting.

A small bowl of blueberries on a white surface

What is a Net Carb?

When you’re figuring out the number of carbohydrates you can eat, you can choose to count either net carbs or total carbs. When you’re carb counting for Keto, you’ll have to count net carbs; not total carbs. Net carbs are sometimes known as digestible carbs.

Net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols from your total carbs, as these types of carbs can’t be digested.

  • Fiber is a type of carb that can’t be digested and broken into sugar molecules. A good amount of fiber in your diet is critical for regulating your body’s sugar usage and abating hunger.
  • Sugar alcohols are a bit misleading: they’re neither sugars nor alcohols. They’re actually polyols, a type of carb often found naturally in fruits and vegetables. They also cannot be broken down into sugars and are, therefore, not digestible.

How to figure out net carbs is actually a matter for debate though, which is why it can get complicated. Every body absorbs fiber and sugar alcohol differently, and the amounts in each food varies widely, too. It’s also difficult to get a perfect measurement on these nutrients—even on food labels!

The minute chemical differences between each type of carb can get super technical, so we’ll save that for the food scientists and nutritionists. What’s important to know about carb counting and snacking for Keto and other alternative eating plans is simply that you subtract fiber and sugar alcohols from your total carbs to get your net carbs. If you remember nothing else, remember that!

Within/Without’s Original Granola next to a chocolate smoothie bowl.

Why Count Net Carbs?

There are plenty of reasons people would choose to count net carbs instead of total carbs, and it’s mainly to make your eating less restrictive. As we mentioned earlier, carbs are your body’s main source of energy and shouldn’t be treated like the enemy!

If you’re still wondering about why and how to figure out net carbs, know that a great way is to make sure your diet is high in fiber, which helps to keep your body feeling full and reduce your calorie absorption. If you count total carbs without adjusting for foods that are high in fiber, you might be eliminating essential nutrients and/or increasing your risk for low blood sugar.

Counting carbs isn’t just useful for Keto or other low carb diets - it’s an important part of eating mindfully too. Counting carbs shouldn’t be the only way you’re eating mindfully, though. You should also make sure the foods you’re eating are nutrient-dense and unprocessed. When you’re aware of the types of carbs you’re consuming, you’re much more likely to make healthier choices on a daily basis.

Within/Without’s Options for a Low-Carb Diet

We’re all about snacks that you can feel good about eating, and we firmly believe food should enhance the mind and body. Our granola is low-carb because it’s grain-free, oat-free, dairy-free, and sweetened naturally with maple syrup or honey. If you’re carb counting for Keto, this snack was created with you in mind!

So snackers, rejoice! Our Keto and Paleo granola has no refined sugars while still remaining utterly delicious. We boost our granola with healthy nutrients, but we never skimp on flavor! Just see what our customers have to say about why we’re the best granola brand around! Try out our mouthwatering options including original, maple pecan and dark chocolate peanut butter.

If you have more questions about our products, check out our FAQ page or leave a comment below. We’d be happy to answer all your carb questions!

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