Net Carbs Calculator
This easy-to-use net carbs calculator allows you to estimate your net carbohydrate intake - either in an individual product or for your whole meal. You can take advantage of it, especially if you're trying to lose weight, or are following one of the low carb diets, such as a high protein low carb diet, or a ketogenic - 'keto' - diet. You will not only find out how to calculate net carbs, but also what are net carbs and why do we count them that way.
What are net carbs?
In general, carbohydrates are one of the essential macronutrients found in food, and are our basic fuel. They also play a crucial role in the correct functioning of our brain and central nervous system. From a nutritional point of view, they can be divided into three groups:
They differ when it comes to how our body deals with them - some are digestible, and some, like fibers, are not - our body cannot break them down and thus cannot derive the energy from them. Net carbs are the carbohydrates that our body really digests and is able to absorb. Therefore, they have the biggest impact on our blood sugar level.
Why would I like to know the number of net carbs?
While carbohydrates are the primary source of energy - they should provide around 55% of your daily calorie intake - there are some dietary approaches that recommend only a meager consumption of them. Those are ketogenic diets or low carb diets. Knowing your net carbs in keto is crucial - while that diet, you should be very aware of every gram of carbohydrate you chew! By knowing what are net carbs and how to calculate net carbs correctly, you can even treat yourself to your favourite 'non-diet' food item (in moderation, of course).
How does the keto diet, the low carb diet, or the low carb high protein diet work?
Typically, nutrition guidelines state that our daily energy needs should be made up of carbohydrates (45-65%), proteins (10-15%) and rest from fats. Diets like the keto diet, the low carb diet, or, one of its variations - the high protein low carb diet - reverse these percentages and recommend a higher intake of fats and proteins, reducing carbs intake to 50g per day - around 10% of the energy consumed throughout the day.
This reduced amount of carbs should place your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. While you're in a state of ketosis, your body begins to burn fats for energy, not carbohydrates. It is supposed to ease the process of weight loss while keeping you full and satisfied, as the satiety index for proteins and fats is higher than that for carbohydrates.
However, despite being praised by its followers and even known as a 'cure' for drug-resistant epilepsy (in some cases), the ketogenic diet is pretty drastic and not safe for everyone - e.g., for people with metabolic disorders. You should consult your physician before attempting a keto diet.
How many net carbs should I eat in a day?
As mentioned above, carbohydrates are the macronutrients that are most responsible for providing our bodies with essential fuel. There are nutritional recommendations stating that carbohydrates should make up 45-65% of our daily energy demand. However, ketogenic diets aim to reduce the net carbs intake to as low as possible, so that your body achieves a state of ketosis.
In most cases, the upper limit of net carbs per day is 50g. Remember, it is not a fixed value, and nobody can guarantee that you will enter ketosis by consuming this exact amount. Try to check your status every now and then to get the most out of this diet. You can find how to do it and a lot more useful information in our ketogenic diet calculator.
How to calculate net carbs?
If you know how to calculate net carbs, sticking to a keto diet will become much easier for you. And it is not that complicated!
- First, you should look for the Nutrition Facts label on your food package.
- Search for the Total Carbohydrate part. Note the number of total carbohydrates, fiber and sugar alcohols.
- Don't worry if you cannot find any sugar alcohols - not all products contain them.
- However, to get the most of out of this calculator, state which sugar alcohols are used in your food. You can find more about that here.
- Use the simple formula: subtract the amount of fiber and the amount of sugar alcohol divided by 2 from the number of total carbohydrates:
Net carbs = Total carbohydrate - Fiber - Sugar alcohol / 2
- Or use our net carbs calculator to do that for you!
Why the type of sugar alcohol matters?
Sugar alcohols are alcohols derived from sugar - but don't worry, they won't make you drunk! They are widely used in the food industry to improve a products' viscosity and sweetness, but they also occur naturally. Nowadays, they are well known for their sweetening properties, while carrying fewer calories than classic table sugar. Some, like erythritol, don't even contain any calories! That's because our bodies (our digestive enzymes in particular) cannot break them down properly. As these alcohols have different chemical structures, the degree to which we can break them down (and extract energy from them) varies. Therefore, some of them are worth counting as net carbs, while some are not. The following sugar alcohols will pass through you without being digested, and therefore do no count towards net carbs:
However, don't think that you can eat those sweeteners to your hearts content, as excessive consumption can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
The rest of the sugar alcohols are counted towards the net carbs result only partially, that's why we need to divide their weight by 2.
Why does the country I live in matter?
It's because food labels differ between the USA & Canada, and the rest of the world. These two countries include the amount of fiber in the total carbohydrate value, visible in the Nutrition Facts table. On the other hand, if you live in Australia, this number will have already been subtracted from total carbohydrates.
How do I calculate net carbs?
To calculate net carbs, you should:
- Find the values of total carbohydrates and fiber in your product. If your food contains sugar alcohols, note them as well.
- To find net carbs, you should subtract fiber from the total carbohydrates value.
- If your product has sugar alcohols, you should divide their number by two and subtract that value from the total carbs.
Net carbs = total carbohydrates - fiber - (sugar alcohols/2).
What is 20 g of net carbs?
20 g of net carbs can look like:
- One medium potato;
- Half bun;
- ½ cup of pasta;
- ½ cup of rice;
- One and ¾ cup of berry fruit (blueberries, raspberries, etc.);
- 2 ½ cups of nuts like walnuts, cashews, or hazelnuts;
- Whole medium cauliflower;
- Four large carrots; and
- Five avocados.
What are net carbs vs. carbs?
Net carbs are carbohydrates that our body really processes and digests, and so raise our blood sugar level and add to our daily calorie intake. On the other hand, simple ‘carbohydrates’ (or carbs, or total carbs) are include net carbs, fiber, and sugar alcohols.
How do I read food labels for keto in the UK?
Suppose you want to track your net carbs in the UK. In that case, you should remember that UK food labels display the ‘Carbohydrates’ section with the fiber already deducted. As a result, you don’t need to subtract them anymore. You will still find the ‘Fiber’ section so that you know the value if you want, but if you’re only interested in net carbohydrates - just go with the ‘Carbohydrates’ value to save some time.