Total Carbs and Net Carbs: Know The Difference For Better Diabetes Control

=It’s helpful to know the difference between a food’s total grams of carbohydrate, and net grams of carbohydrate since only net carbs affect blood sugar. Our body generates energy for itself by turning food carbohydrates into a bio-fuel called glucose. The glucose triggers a release of the hormone insulin that transports the glucose where it’s needed.

If we eat more carbohydrates than our body requires for energy, some of the excess is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen; the rest is preserved as fat. Yet, not all carbohydrate can be used as fuel or stored for future use.

Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be digested by the body or made into glucose. Until it’s eliminated, fiber remains in the digestive tract where it slows down the absorption of other nutrients, aids in the elimination process, and feeds our healthy gut bacteria. Fiber has no effect on insulin levels.

Determining Net Carbs

Net carbs is a term for the digestible carbohydrates that actually enter our bloodstream, raise glucose levels, and instigate insulin release.

To determine net carbs you simply subtract a food’s indigestible fiber grams of carbohydrate from its total grams of carbohydrate:

  • Total grams of carbohydrate (digestible and indigestible carbs)
  • Minus the grams of fiber (the indigestible carbs)
  • Equals grams of net carbs (the digestible carbs that elevate blood sugar)

One cup of cooked broccoli, for instance, has 11.2 grams of total carbohydrate, and 5.1 grams of fiber. So, to calculate net carbs:

  • 11.2 total grams carbohydrate (digestible and indigestible carbs)
  • minus 5.1 grams of fiber (indigestible carbs)
  • equals 6.1 grams net carbs (digestible carbs that elevate blood sugar)

This simple equation makes it easy to see how 15 total carb grams of fiber-less pastas or snack foods will raise blood sugar levels more than 15 total carb grams of fiber-rich veggies.

Net Carbs, Insulin, and Weight Loss

Some people limit net carbs - instead of counting calories - to lose weight and reduce insulin levels.

Because diets low in net carbs naturally restrict glucose production and insulin release, the body is forced to burn its fat for fuel. This shift toward utilizing fat helps some individuals lose weight, and manage or reverse pre- and type 2 diabetes since the body no longer depends on elevated insulin to transport glucose.

Those who limit their net carb intake must learn to replace the lost carbohydrate calories with protein foods, and high-quality fats such as those in seeds, butter, nuts, avocado, olives, raw cacao, and healthy cooking oils (e.g., olive, coconut, avocado).

Anyone who incorporates a low-carb, increased protein and fat diet into their diabetes treatment plan is wise to do so with a doctor or dietitian’s help, and should monitor carefully.

There’s An App

Though the calculation of net carbs is simple, keeping track of daily total carbs, fiber, and net carbs might be a task we are loath to take on. Fortunately, for those interested, there are online and mobile nutrition trackers to do the calculating and record-keeping for us. Just Google “nutrition tracker” and choose one that suits your needs.

Sources: Healthy Eating/SFGate, Mercola Nutrition Tracker
Photo: Pexels

Get A Free 7 Day Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Well-controlled diabetes may depend on medication, but nutrition is perhaps the most important factor. There are many foods that can be added to...

Detoxification, or detox, diets are typically short-term diets that promise to rid the body of environmental toxins. Most detox plans begin with a...

Caring for children comes with its challenges, especially for babysitters. Things can get even more complicated when those children have diabetes...

The goal of the consistent carbohydrate diet (CCD) is to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same times each day. Although this diet...

Evidence is mounting that consuming black cumin helps to manage type 2 diabetes. The spice lowered blood glucose levels and blocked AGE glycation...

More Articles

Steve Gilbert, the writer of the blog Without Envy, has a young daughter named Lia who has diabetes. This...

Everyone from grandmothers to physicians tout oatmeal's wholesome goodness and health benefits. But, is oatmeal good for diabetics? Limited...

Caring for children comes with its challenges, especially for babysitters. Things can get even more complicated when those children have diabetes...

Detoxification, or detox, diets are typically short-term diets that promise to rid the body of environmental toxins. Most detox plans begin with a...

This article was written exclusively for Information About Diabetes by Julia Flaherty, a type 1 diabetic college student, editor of the Arts...

Evidence is mounting that consuming black cumin helps to manage type 2 diabetes. The spice lowered blood glucose levels and blocked AGE glycation...

Food often becomes the focal point when it comes to discussing a diabetes diet, but the beverages you drink could be affecting your weight and...

When you are struggling with an illness like lupus, arthritis or asthma, the medications you take could have secondary effects on your body. What...

A healthy diabetes plan is essential in keeping low blood sugar levels, but...

Those who have not yet been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can greatly reduce their susceptibility by doing one key...

There is a connection between anxiety control, inflammation and type 2 diabetes, according to a new study conducted by Rice University researchers...

Lantus is a once a day insulin injection that is taken at the same time every day. It replaces anywhere from the average three to five insulin...

The most well-known variations of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes....

Modern fitness culture has popularized a wide range of high-intensity activities, from Crossfit and spin-class to marathon running and exercise...

Because it is Peripheral Neuropathy Awareness Week (May 7-13), this article is about a device people with neuropathy may not be aware of—a device...