The Truth About Net Carbs

Carbohydrates — “carbs” — get a lot of attention these days, and it’s no secret that they can affect your blood sugar. If you’re wondering if you should eat less of them, or even if you should eat them at all, you’re not alone. All food is made up of three main nutrients: carbs, protein and fat. You need all three to stay healthy, but each person needs a different amount. Complex carbs — like whole grains and legumes — give you the most bang for your buck in terms of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Refined carbs, which tend to be found in processed foods, are very low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Complex carbs take longer to digest and are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar like refined carbs do. Now we come to “net carbs,” a term that was created by Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. and is not based on any scientific studies. In fact, the FDA doesn’t even recognize the term because it's too vague. Net carbs are determined by subtracting any fiber or sugar alcohols on the label from the total carbs. The equation used to calculate net carbs is not accurate because the type of fiber or sugar alcohols used isn’t indicated on the nutritional facts label, so it can’t be determined precisely. So, when counting carbs, forget about “net carbs.”