Everyone’s journey is different. Whether it be keto or low carb; health goals or making a lifestyle change. For those familiar with a low carb or keto journey, you’ll know the beginning can sometimes be confusing, especially when it comes to macros, net carbs, and total carbs – trust us, we’ve been there!
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to limit carb intake to under 20g of net carbs per day to keep your body in a constant state of ketosis. Compared to eating low carb, which is an individual choice, often staying between 50-100g of carbs per day is recommended. While the requirements for low carb and keto may vary depending on your lifestyle and carb count, deciphering how carbs are calculated and reading nutritional information doesn’t have to be hard. At Low Carb Haven, we know from experience that there is nothing worse than missing out on delicious food, so let’s clear up the confusion!
Total carbs are exactly that—the sum of all the carbs you eat in a day (these include starches, dietary fibre and sugars). Compared to “net” carbs, these are calculated by taking total carbs and subtracting fibre and sugar alcohols.
Net carbs are the relevant number that many are most interested in as they indicate the starch and sugar that yield calories. Dietary fibre is resistant to digestion; therefore, it doesn’t affect blood sugar. That’s why we rely on net carbs when calculating the carb content of food, as they are digestible carbohydrates.
Reading the back of food labels will give the carbohydrate information, however depending on if it is New Zealand based or US-based, the nutritional information is slightly different. In New Zealand, our nutritional labels separate fibre from carbs. This means that “carbs” on nutritional labels are always “net carbs” - as they don’t include fibre in the count. Compared to nutritional labels in the US, fibre is included in the total carbohydrate count; therefore, fibre needs to be deducted from the total carbs to find the “net carbs” of a food.
So what’s the magic formula for US food panels?
Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fibre
In the US example below – highlighted in red, there is 37g of total carbs and 4g of dietary fibre. So to calculate the net carbs of the food it would be 37g (total carbs) – 4g (fibre) = 33g of net carbs per serving.
US nutritional panel vs New Zealand nutritional panel
We understand following a low carb diet, or a keto lifestyle can be an adjustment to start, especially when trying to navigate nutritional panels on food products. But it doesn’t have to be hard! It’s about finding what works for your body and having healthy, tasty options on hand – a well-stocked pantry is essential to get started.
At Low Carb Haven, our online pantry is here for you with an extensive range of low carb keto food options, so you and your family have everything available to reach your goals, whatever they may be.
Becoming the best version if yourself is a journey, so tell us, how can we be part of yours?