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Keto 101

Do I Count Net or Total Carbs?

Some people are metabolically gifted and seem to do great counting net carbs. For a lot of people to see weight loss success they need to count total carbs.

When sugars are present in foods, even with comparable amounts of fiber, a sugar response can be triggered in many people. For instance, if you eat a ‘low-carb tortilla’, you may find yourself craving either more of the tortilla or even things that have more carbs, including fruits.

There is a huge difference between carbohydrates that are good for example fresh food – leafy vegetables grown above ground and carbohydrates that are bad, processed foods with a list of ingredients that just aren’t fresh food. Spinach and broccoli will not make you fat no matter how much you eat. But eating even modest amounts of refined carbs/sugars/artificial ingredients can certainly cause you to gain weight.

Yet both are carbohydrates – so what is the difference?

There is a whole stack of science that measures the Glycemic Index (GI). Which is foods ranked according to their tendency to raise glucose and stimulate insulin.

To summarise this and to make it easier for you. Fresh wholefood leafy green veggies are the lowest on the GI scale and healthiest as they don’t raise your glucose and stimulate insulin.

As the fresh wholefoods become more starchy and sweeter, like root vegetables and fruits, they climb the GI scale and therefore push up glucose and insulin, so you’ll put on weight.

Now we get to processed food, those refined carbs made in a factory with a long list of ingredients advertising reasonable net carbs (total carbs less fiber) including a long list of ingredients. Or let’s replace the word ingredients with artificial chemicals.

Yep these are top of the GI index, glucose and insulin shooting up, your body won’t be burning fat for fuel, your increased insulin will be transporting your excess glucose to your cells and depositing as fat, and you’ll be back to hormonal imbalances and food cravings.

Unfortunately, these foods aren’t conducive to producing adequate ketones, which stave off hunger and cravings and make positive changes in your health. Far too many people fall for the “net carb” marketing gimmick or purchase products advertising “no sugar added,” “gluten free”, or “great for low-carb diets”. Be aware of how these food choices are impacting you if you want to be in ketosis and reap all the weight loss and health benefits that the keto diet offers.

One of the benefits of counting total carbs is you avoid this sneaky false advertising. If the only carbs you eat are from Keto-friendly veggies, the impact of net vs total carbs would be fairly minor, as veg is, on average, 75% insoluble fiber, with soluble being a minor portion. But “products” can be more like 90% soluble – as in “will break down to METABOLICALLY ACTIVE” substrates, which will have a Keto-adverse affect on your body.

Here’s my advice; Listen to your body whilst eating a keto diet. If you happen to find yourself suddenly craving foods 😵, especially carbs and sweet things, that’s your cue to reassess what you’re eating to make sure there aren’t any hidden sugars (even starchy veg 🥕) in your diet and that you haven’t consumed too many carbs for your personal tolerance. They can be disruptive to the way you, personally, process and metabolise foods.

Sophie Laura

Hi! I'm Sophie (Easy Keto Lifestyle). I'm a Certified Nutrition Coach and I help women who struggle with their weight to radically transform their health and body, by living a simple yet delicious ketogenic lifestyle.

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  1. Hi, I read your information on net vs carbs counting, and i’m still confused. So wich one do I read or record in my daily log once I begin.

    1. Hi Vonshel, count total carbs. Net carbs complicates and unless you know what you’re doing with them and the affect it’s having on your blood sugar and insulin levels – stick to counting 20g total carbs per day, getting these mainly from green veg that grows above the ground, to get the best results fast

  2. This explanation helped me finally understand. Initially, I was very confused about why some people were talkimg about “net” carbs, but now I understand and I’m keeping my total daily carbs under 20.

  3. I watched the videos The Skinny On Fat . They quickly showed how to make bone broth for collogin. In the pot, she used carrots, onion, garlic, etc. Do you suggest not to use underground foods in making bone broth on a keto diet ?

  4. Hi there I’m finding the Keto diet really confusing. How do I know how much protein to have and vegetables? I could really use some guidance.

    1. Hi Shan,

      It can be a little overwhelming at first but hang in there! You can work out your macros here using our calculation – http://easyketolifestyle.com/calculate-macros/

      You want to consume veggies that grow above the ground and these will make up most of your 20g TOTAL a day of carbs.
      In the ‘Announcements’ section in the Facebook group I’ve created ‘veggie cheat sheets’ giving your carb content of popular veg for keto 🙂

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