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Should You Count Net Carbs or ALL Carbs?

What are "Net Carbs"?

Before getting into a conversation about net carbs being the way to go or not, we should first define what net carbs are. This leads us to an interesting situation already. The FDA doesn't even have a definition for net carbs. (Keep in mind, this also means net carbs are not regulated by the FDA.)

This term, along with similar terms such as “impact carbs” or “active carbs”, has been made up by food companies. Most companies define net carbs as the total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols. This makes it sound like those carbs don't count, but I'll elaborate more on that later. The reasoning behind that definition is based on how different types of carbs affect blood sugar levels differently. 

The Problem With Net Carbs

The issue is, while it may be true that different types of carbs affect blood sugar levels differently, they still have Calories, which is the main factor in fat loss. The chart below lists the Caloric value of fiber and sugar alcohols listed as Calories per 1 gram of that carb type. For reference, your typical carb has 4 Calories/gram.

Carb Type Calories/Gram
Insoluble Fiber 0
Soluble Fiber 2 - 4
Isomalt 2
Lactitol 2
xylitol 2.4
Maltitol 2.1
Sorbitol 2.6
Hydrogenated Starch
Mannitol 1.6
Erythritol 0.2
Glycerol 4.3

If you were meal planning, you could technically figure up exactly how many grams of insoluble fiber you are eating per day and add that number back to the carbs you are allowed that day, but in my opinion, this is way too much trouble just to add 5-10 carbs to my diet. 

The Business of Net Carbs

If these carbs still contain Calories, why would companies purposely word their packages to make it sound like those carbs don't count? Well, unfortunately, some companies are more worried about their customers' money than their customers. They purposely allow you to think you are buying products with carbs that don't count so they can push more product. (Quest was actually in a class action suit because of their misleading packaging.)

It could be that they don't understand the science of how those carbs can still contribute to fat gain; however, I find this to be unlikely. If this is the case, I would consider it to be an even greater cause for concern.


As you probably already guessed, you should be counting ALL carbs, not just "net" carbs. If you're counting net carbs, you could be counting your macros (protein, carbs, and fat), hitting them perfectly, and not losing weight because those carbs that "don't count", most certainly do count.

Thank you so much for reading! If you found this information helpful and think others will benefit from it as well, please give this article a share on Facebook. It helps us out more than you know. If you like what I have to say, sign up below to become a Treadaway Training insider and never miss a post or video. I will be back next week with another fat loss topic. As always, God bless you AND your family and I'll see you next week.