Have you heard of the debate between net carbs vs. total carbs? It’s a hot topic in the world of nutrition and weight loss, and it’s easy to get confused.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help you understand the truth about net carbs vs. total carbs, and how they can impact your health goals.
So, let’s dive in and learn all about net carbs vs. total carbs!
What Are Carbs And Why Do We Need Them?
Carbs, short for carbohydrates, are one of the three macronutrients that provide our bodies with energy.
They’re found in many foods like bread, pasta, fruits, vegetables, and sugar, and they are important because they’re the main fuel source for our brain and muscles.
Indeed, without enough carbs in our diet, we may feel fatigued, have difficulty concentrating, and experience muscle weakness.
But not all carbs are created equal!
Some carbs, like those found in processed foods and sugary drinks, can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, and even type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, carbs found in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide important vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our bodies need to function properly.
So, while we do need carbs in our diet, it’s important to focus on the quality of carbs we consume and strike a healthy balance between total carbs and net carbs.
Total Carbs: What They Are And How To Calculate Them
Let’s start with total carbs, which refers to the sum of all the carbs present in a food or beverage, including both fiber and sugar.
To calculate the total carbs in a food, you can look at the nutrition label on the packaging and find the total carbs listed under the “Total Carbohydrates” section and measured in grams.
Net Carbs: What They Are And How To Calculate Them
Net carbs are the carbs that actually impact our blood sugar levels and can have an effect on our health goals.
To calculate net carbs, you subtract the fiber content and any sugar alcohols from the total carb count and it is this calculation that gives you a more accurate representation of the carbs that will affect your body.
For example, if a food has 20 grams of total carbs, 5 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of sugar alcohol, the net carb count would be 13 grams (20g total carbs – 5g fiber – 2g sugar alcohol = 13g net carbs).
Keep in mind that not all foods have a nutrition label that breaks down fiber and sugar alcohols. In these cases, it’s best to do your research and use online resources or consult with a healthcare professional to determine the net carb count.
Which Is More Important: Net Carbs Or Total Carbs?
When it comes to net carbs vs. total carbs, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on your health goals and individual needs.
If you’re looking to manage your blood sugar levels or follow a low-carb diet, then net carbs may be more important for you.
By subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carb count, you can get a better idea of the carbs that will affect your blood sugar.
On the other hand, if you’re not concerned about blood sugar levels and just want to focus on overall carb intake, then total carbs may be more important.
Total carbs can give you a good idea of the carb content in a food, which is important for managing portion sizes and overall carb intake.
Ultimately, it’s important to strike a balance between net carbs and total carbs and focus on consuming high-quality, whole-food sources of carbs.
This can include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. And don’t forget about the importance of protein and healthy fats, which can also play a role in your health and weight loss goals!
Myths And Truths About Net Carbs And Total Carbs
There are many misconceptions out there when it comes to net carbs vs. total carbs. Let’s clear up some of the most common ones.
Myth #1: Net Carbs Are Always Lower Than Total Carbs
Truth: While it’s true that net carbs can be lower than total carbs, this isn’t always the case as some high-fiber foods, like beans and lentils, may have a higher total carb count but a lower net carb count due to their high fiber content.
Therefore, you should always look at both total and net carbs when choosing foods to fit your nutritional needs.
Myth #2: All Sugar Alcohols Are Subtracted From The Total Carb Count
Truth: While some sugar alcohols can be subtracted from the total carb count, others have a more significant impact on blood sugar levels and should be counted as part of the total carb count.
So, make sure to do your research and consult with a healthcare professional to determine which sugar alcohols can be subtracted and which ones should be counted.
Myth #3: Net Carbs Are The Only Thing That Matters When It Comes To Weight Loss
Truth: While net carbs can play a role in weight loss, they’re not the only thing that matters as consuming too many calories, regardless of the source, can still lead to weight gain.
So, what you need to do is focus on overall healthy eating habits, including consuming a balanced diet rich in whole foods and engaging in regular physical activity.
Myth #4: All Carbs Are Bad For You
Truth: Carbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years, but the truth is that not all carbs are bad for you.
In fact, consuming carbs from whole-food sources like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide important vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our bodies need to function properly.
Therefore, while it’s important to focus on consuming high-quality carbs, it’s more important to strike a healthy balance between carbs, protein, and healthy fats.
The Bottom Line
There are many things that have been said about the war between net carbs vs. total carbs but the truth is that, regardless of how much you pay attention to these macronutrients, if you overeat or don’t have a balanced macronutrient diet, you won’t be promoting a healthy dietary lifestyle.
So, make sure you eat sufficient amounts of protein, fats, and carbs, and be aware of the common myths looking to make carbs the ‘bad’ guys!