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Keto 101: Carbs, Net Carbs, and Everything You Need to Know About Carbohydrates on the Keto Diet

Whether the focus is total carbs or net carbs, counting this macronutrient is a must for many keto dieters. How else can you make sure to stay in ketosis if you're not keeping track of how many carbs you eat in a day?

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Do the math: how to calculate net carbs on keto

By now, you know that the keto diet is an extremely low carb, high fat diet that helps people shed pounds quickly and effectively. But as you dig deeper, you may have seen the term “net carbs” a few times. What exactly are “net carbs” and how do you calculate them? Are they different from total carbs? How many carbs am I allowed to have per day on keto? Read on to find all the answers.

Total carbs vs. Net carbs

Total carbs versus keto net carbs

For those on the keto diet, the most important thing to consider is the amount of “net carbs” in your food. This number can be quite different from the amount of total carbs, and here is why: Net carbs are the ones that are absorbed into your body. Some sources of carbohydrates like fiber and sugar alcohols are not absorbed into your bloodstream, therefore they are not part of your daily allowance of net carbs.

On the keto diet, you are allowed to have no more than 50 grams of net carbs per day – and the fewer, the better! But by focusing on “net” rather than “total” carbs, you won’t be denying your body the essential fiber it needs for proper function. Try meal planning ahead of time so you can always track how many net carbs you're consuming.

Calculate Net Carbs

How to calculate keto net carbs

There are, of course, numerous online databases that tell you how many net carbs a food has. However, sometimes you’ll have to do it on your own. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to do! To calculate a food’s number of net carbs, look at the label and follow these two simple steps:

  1. Determine the carb content: take a look at the number of total carbohydrates, then the amount of fiber and any sugar alcohols (sometimes shown as “Erythritol” on nutrition labels). These things together equal the “total carb content.” (Any sugar shown is already included in the total carbohydrate amount).
  2. Subtract the amount of dietary fiber and half the amount of sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrate amount. The result is the amount of net carbs in the food.

Take a look at the example on the side:

Net Carbs = Total Carbs - Dietary Fiber - Half Sugar Alcohols
Net Carbs = 20g - 8g - 5g = 7g

Your net carb amount will always be less than or equal to the total carb count. Remember, you can consume 50g of net carbs each day on a keto diet.

Low Net Carb Foods

What foods are low in net carbs?

Just because you now know how to calculate keto net carbs doesn’t mean you have to do so for everything you eat. There is a range of delicious, healthy foods that are positively encouraged on the keto diet.

Meats such as beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey, and fish such as cod, sardines, tuna, and salmon have very low net carbs. Most green and leafy vegetables also have an extremely low keto net carb count and can be enjoyed freely. And don’t forget, you can also include delicious high fiber, low fructose fruits in your keto diet plan.

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Lose weight and regain your health with the keto diet

As you can see, the principles of the keto diet are pretty straightforward: Keep your intake of keto net carbs below 50g per day and focus on high fat foods. Let us at Green Chef make it even easier for you. Choose delicious, hearty keto meals from our meal plans and have them delivered right to your doorstep. We take the math out of keto!

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