Understanding the type of carbohydrates you eat and their impact on your body is critical to achieving a healthy lifestyle. Net and Total Carbs are two very different metrics that require careful consideration when managing your daily intake for optimal health - but what's the difference?
To help make things easier, let's take a deeper look.
What are carbohydrates?
The definition of carbohydrates, or carbs as we know them, is sugars and fiber. Along with proteins and fats, they form the three essential macronutrients our bodies need to get energy from food and drinks.
Some carbohydrates are digested and broken down into glucose, aka 'blood sugar,' to provide the cells in your body with energy.
What is glucose?
Glucose is the primary fuel for your body's engines - it provides energy to cells, tissues, and organs so they can do their jobs. Think of glucose as a storage tank you fill up throughout the day; some will be used immediately while extra supplies are tucked away in your liver or muscles to use later on.
What are the different types of carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates can be divided into two categories: simple carbs and highly complex ones. Ever wonder what sets them apart? Let's explore.
These simple carbohydrates are what most of us are familiar with - what we find in candy, cakes, and other sweet treats. Aside from sweets and candy, sugars are also found in many fruits, vegetables, and grains. The most common sugars are glucose and fructose molecules that provide quick energy to the body.
Starches may be more slowly digested and therefore can be long-lasting energy sources, forming a critical part of the complex carbohydrate family. Whether you're looking to fuel up with potatoes, bread, or pasta – these tasty staples all contain starches can break down slowly (depending on if they’re processed or cooked) for reliable sustenance. Other common vegetable forms include peas and corn, making it easy to add more sustaining starches into your diet.
Eating fiber-rich foods like whole grains and certain fruits/veggies can help your body in numerous ways. Not only does it provide essential nutrition, but the complex carbs of this food group improve digestion and make you feel more satisfied - lessening cravings so that you eat fewer calories overall.
So, what's the difference between Net Carbs and Total Carbs? Let's further explore what they are and what they mean.
What are Total Carbs?
This is the total amount of carbohydrates in a food or beverage and include both simple and complex carbohydrates and any sugars, starches, and fiber present. When looking at labels or calculating your daily intake, it's important to look at the "total carbohydrate" as a starting place to calculate Net Carbs. More on that below!
What are Net Carbs?
When looking at blood sugar, Net Carbs are a smart way to help you understand the glycemic response, or the impact the food will have on your blood sugar. Because dietary fiber and sugar alcohols can't be absorbed or broken down, these don't factor into your daily carb intake when determining how much energy you'll get from it - only the digestible ones count.
How Net Carbs are calculated
Calculating Net Carbs is relatively simple - just subtract any dietary fiber and sugar alcohols or allulose from the total carbohydrates in a food or beverage. For example, let's say you're looking at a nutrition label for an item with 30g of total carbohydrates and 5g of dietary fiber. The calculation would be 30-5=25g Net Carbs.
All packaged foods are required to include macronutrients and ingredients on packaging, so give the net carb calculation a try next time you’re at the grocery store.
What is the difference between Net Carbs and Total Carbs?
Total carbohydrates are all those found in a food source - like starches, dietary fiber, sugars, and sugar alcohols.
However, Net Carbs can be thought of as glycemic carbs or carbs that impact blood sugar. Analyzing Net Carbs vs Total Carbs is a great stepping stone to understanding if a food is blood sugar-friendly. .
Why We Use Net Carbohydrates at Good Measure
Not all carbs are created equal. We look at Net Carbs to help individuals appreciate the real effect eating certain carbs has on blood sugar. There's no standard way to calculate Net Carbs, so we've done our homework. We follow the highest standards in only subtracting carbs that have been scientifically shown to have an insignificant glycemic impact.
At Good Measure, we are mindful of and care about blood sugar levels. We are dedicated to creating healthier snack options made with nutrient-dense ingredients that have little impact on glucose levels. Our foods are made with natural-dense ingredients and proudly labeled with the net carb count.
If you're wondering "are carbs sugar?" The answer is both yes and no - it depends on the type of carbohydrate. While all sugars are carbohydrates, not all carbohydrates are sugars. Knowing what to look for when counting your carbs can help you find snacks you feel confident eating. That's why Good Measure is here.
The Bottom Line
Your health and well-being are important, so it's crucial to understand the difference between Net Carbs and Total Carbs when tracking your carbohydrate intake. Knowing more about carbohydrates is essential for making smart food decisions and finding snacks that have little impact on blood sugar levels. Similarly, consider consulting a healthcare professional or Registered Dietitian if you need more information about managing your nutritional needs.