Net carbs are also known as digestible or impact carbs. They account for the carbs that are absorbed by the body, including both simple and complex carbs.
Simple carbs include the sugars you find in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, sugar and honey. Complex carbs are more difficult for the body to digest and break down, such as grains and starchy vegetables; potatoes and parsnips for example.
Some carbs on the other hand can't be broken down and are not absorbed by the body. These are those found in fibre and sugar alcohols, also known as polyols or sweeteners.
Because they are not broken down by the body and have shown to have little or in the case of erythritol, no impact on blood sugar and insulin levels we can subtract them from the total amount of carbohydrates in our food.
By subtracting these sugar alcohols we can calculate the net impact carbs, those that have an impact on our blood sugar and blood insulin and those that impact ketones and ketosis.
How does the body handle sugar alcohols?
Sugar alcohols are only partially absorbed in the small intestine and have little impact on blood sugar levels. Some have more impact then others, in fact here at KetoKeto, we have picked what we see as the two best sugar alcohols for our bars; Xylitol and Erythritol. The later has shown to have no impact on blood insulin and sugar whatsoever.
Here's a breakdown of the others
- Erythritol: Glycemic index 0, insulin index 2
- Isomalt: Glycemic index 9, insulin index 6
- Maltitol: Glycemic index 35, insulin index 27
- Sorbitol: Glycemic index 9, insulin index 11
- Xylitol: Glycemic index 13, insulin index 11
Many popular health bars on the market, which claim no sugar, use Malitol. As you can see, this gives a very similar response to sugar in many cases and could be considered as no better.
How to Calculate Net Carbs
Net carbs can be calculated simply by subtracting the amount of sugar alcohols from the total number of carbohydrates. In the USA, you should also subtract the fibre content, however in the UK, this is already subtracted from the total carbohydrate on packaging information.
So for example, if the total carbohydrate content is 10g and the total content of sugar alcohols is 7g, then the net carb amount would be 3g.
A big but however!. Some brands like to calculate net carbs by removing the total amount of sugar alcohols from the carbohydrate amount. This helps show a lower net carb total.
Only really in the instance of erythritol, may you subtract 100% the content of the sugar alcohol, as erythritol has shown to have no affect on blood sugar and blood insulin.
Generally speaking, half of the carbs from sugar alcohols can be subtracted from the total carbs listed on the nutrition label. In the case of maltitol, some would say even less than half should be subtracted.
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What does KetoKeto do to calculate net carbs
In July 2020 we will be updating our recipe to include erythritol alongside xylitol. As a result the net carbs in our bars are lower than 2g for both Choc Hazelnut and Coconut Cashew and less than 3g for our new flavour; Cherry Bakewell.
We have subtracted the total amount of erythritol and half the total amount of xylitol to give this calculation. We felt this approach holds our products to the highest account for all those measuring ketosis and looking to stay in keto! Although many big brands on the market subtract 100% of any sugar alcohol to get their net carb total, we did not feel the research suggested this. As a result, we have worked tirelessly on our recipe to ensure it is a strong keto product as we set out to be.