Total Carbs or Net Carbs: What Really Counts?

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Total Carbs or Net Carbs: What Really Counts?

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Disclaimer: You should consult any dietary changes with a health professional, especially if you have a health condition such as diabetes or heart disease. You may need an adjustment to the medication you are taking.


Critical thinking is key to separating facts from personal opinions and unproven theories. With the ever increasing amount of misinformation, it's easy for people to get confused and fall for a diet or lifestyle dogma. My advice is to always do your own research and learn what works best for you - no diet plan fits all and you always need to make small adjustments to fit your needs.

Here's a couple of examples that are frequently discussed within the low-carb community:

  1. One of the myths is that if you follow a low-carb diet, you can eat unlimited calories, while losing weight and staying healthy. Although it's not common to overeat due to natural appetite control of low-carb diets, this belief results in overconsumption which is never beneficial no matter which diet you follow.

  2. A great example of a post questioning the effects of high cholesterol and saturated fat intake can be found at Low Carb Dietitian. About 25% of people following a low carb diet experience very high cholesterol levels. There is increasing evidence that cholesterol and saturated fat do not cause heart disease. Does this mean that very high cholesterol levels are completely safe and even desirable? Not necessarily - even if your C-reactive protein test shows that your inflammation is low, it doesn't mean that it's safe to have very high cholesterol levels. Keep in mind that low-carb diets are not just about eating foods rich in saturated fat found in butter or fatty meat. In addition to saturated fats, many experts, including doctor Jeff Volek, emphasise the importance of heart-healthy MUFA and omega-3 fatty acids.

Defining Total Carbs, Net Carbs, Soluble & Insoluble Fibre

Should total carbs be considered when following a low-carb, ketogenic diet? Does eating fewer carbs always lead to better weight loss & improved health? Although most people still count net carbs (total carbs without fibre), the new trend within the low-carb community seems to be towards counting total carbs. Typically, people that count total carbs follow a very low-carb diet consuming 20 grams of total carbs or less a day. So, what is the right way to count carbs?

The main reason for this post was that many of my readers are convinced that counting total carbs and following a very low-carb diet is the ONLY way to go. Finding relevant information wasn't easy, as the effects of fibre on blood sugar and metabolic health are still a subject of research.

In short, net carbs are total carbs without fibre. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. The reason why most people use net carbs (aka available carbohydrates) is because they believe that dietary fibre doesn't affect blood sugar and our body cannot derive any calories from it. However, this claim isn't entirely accurate because it only applies to insoluble fibre which cannot be absorbed and has no affect blood sugar and ketosis.

Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods and has two main components: insoluble fiber (principally cellulose and lignin) and soluble fiber such as galacto-oligosaccharides and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are fermented by the gut microbiota into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) acetate, propionate, and butyrate. (Flint et al. 2012)

Overview of Fibre in a Few Common Keto-friendly Foods

Foods (serving size) Total fibre per serving Soluble fibre (g) Insoluble fibre (g) Percentage of soluble fibre
Avocados, medium 10.1 4 6.1 40 %
Almonds, 1 oz (28 g) 3.5 0.4 3.1 10 %
Beans, green, 1 cup 10.1 1.6 2.1 16 %
Beet greens, 1 cup 1.4 0.4 1 28 %
Blackberries, 1 cup 7.6 1.4 6.2 18 %
Broccoli, 1 cup 2.6 0.9 1.7 35 %
Brussels sprouts, 1 cup 6.4 3.9 2.5 60 %
Cabbage, green, 1 cup 2 0.7 1.3 35 %
Cauliflower, 1 cup 2.5 0.9 1.6 36 %
Celery, 1 cup 2 0.7 1.3 35 %
Chard, 1 cup 3.7 0.6 3.1 16 %
Chia seeds, 1 tbsp 4.5 1.1 3.4 25 %
Collards, 1 cup 1.3 0.8 0.5 61 %
Dark chocolate, 1 oz 1.7 0.1 1.6 6 %
Flax seed, 1 oz (28 g) 7.7 4.2 3.5 54 %
Jicama, 1 cup 6.4 3.3 3.1 52 %
Kohlrabi, 1 cup 4.9 3.4 1.5 70 %
Lettuce, 1 cup 0.9 0.3 0.6 33 %
Macadamia nuts, 1 oz (28 g) 2.4 0.5 1.9 20 %
Pepper, green, 1 cup 2.7 1.1 1.6 40 %
Psyllium husk powder, 1 tbsp 5.8 1.7 4.1 30 %
Pumpkin, 1 cup 7.1 1 6.1 14 %
Radish, 1 cup 10.1 0.5 1.4 5 %
Raspberries, 1 cup 8.4 0.9 7.5 11 %
Rhubarb, 1 cup 4.8 1.2 3.6 25 %
Sauerkraut, 1 cup 5.9 2 3.9 33 %
Spinach, 1 cup 0.8 0.2 0.6 25 %
Summer squash (zucchini), 1 cup 1.4 0.6 0.8 42 %
Strawberries, 1 cup 3.3 0.9 2.4 27 %
Tomatoes, 1 cup 2 0.2 1.8 10 %
Turnip, 1 cup 3.1 1.1 2 35 %

The Role of Soluble Fibre

According to FDA, our body can derive calories from soluble fibre. However, when it comes to the effects of soluble fibre on blood glucose, it's more complicated. Studies show that soluble fibre can be absorbed and used for intestinal gluconeogenesis (IGN) which was thought to increase blood sugar and therefore affect ketosis. This potential ability of soluble fibre to affect blood sugar and therefore ketosis is the main reason why some experts and bloggers recommend using total carbs rather than net carbs.

How does it work? Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) propionate and butyrate, which are produced by fermentation of soluble fibre in the colon, activate IGN. While butyrate plays a role in enhancing energy expenditure, propionate enhances hepatic gluconeogenesis (release of glucose from the liver).

Total Carbs or Net Carbs: What Really Counts?

However, a recent study shows that soluble fibre helps, in fact, lower blood glucose. According to this this study, propionate can be used by the body for IGN and the overall effect of SCFAs through IGN is a net decrease in blood sugar. Unlike hepatic gluconeogenesis, IGN helps lower serum concentrations of glucose and improves overall glucose disposal. Commonly, increased production of SCFA is assumed to be beneficial by reducing hepatic glucose output and improving lipid homeostasis. (Weickert et al. 2008)

Additionally, when soluble fibre is fermented in the large intestine, it produces gut hormones which play a role in inducing satiety (Lattimer et al. 2010). As most of you may know, natural appetite suppression is the main reason people successfully lose weight on a low-carb diet.

Update: You can learn more about the role of soluble fibre in this post: Nuts & Seeds on a Ketogenic Diet

Bottom Line: Does soluble fibre raise blood sugar? Recent studies show that soluble fibre can, in fact, lower blood glucose levels. However, more studies are needed to understand the effects of dietary fibre on metabolic health.

Total Carbs vs Net Carbs. Ask Yourself: What Am I Trying to Achieve?

Should you count total or net carbs? It depends on what your goal is and how sensitive to carbs you are. Some people may be affected by the tiniest amount of carbs from berries while others can eat most foods without any issues.

I personally prefer using net carbs which is also reflected on my blog and in my apps. My main goal is to maintain my weight and manage my thyroid condition which I've been dealing with since 2011. You can read more about my diet here. When we created the KetoDiet iPad app, we focused on net carbs but also allow our users to check their total carbs count (see below).

Total Carbs or Net Carbs: What Really Counts?

In general, if you follow a low-carb / ketogenic diet to lose weight and improve your health, counting net carbs is a convenient way. In fact, high level of ketones / low level of glucose are not the most important factors in weight loss. Research simply doesn't support the idea that more ketones in your blood always lead to a greater fat loss. The most important factor in successful weight loss on a low-carb diet remains its appetite-suppressing effect.

In fact, you don't necessarily need to be in ketosis to lose weight or improve your overall health - there are other important factors to consider when your weight is stalling. Many studies that show improvements in both weight and health were performed on people eating even more than 50 g of total carbs a day. This review shows that not all of the studies were strictly focused on very low-carb, ketogenic diets throughout the whole trial.

Here are the most common reasons people follow a low-carb diet:

  • weight loss (fat loss)
  • improve overall health
  • improve performance / increase lean mass
  • manage a disease such as cancer, Alzheimer's, epilepsy or PCOS

Weight loss & health effects

Following a low-carb diet leads to weight loss in most cases but more ketones don't seem to adequately enhance weight loss. Accordingly, you don't need to follow a very low-carb diet (VLC) if your aim is to improve your health. Many people experience great benefits following the paleo diet with low-moderate carbohydrates.

Exercise & performance

The effects of the ketogenic diet on performance are described in Volek & Phinney's book devoted to low-carbohydrate performance. It's also worth checking Dr Peter Attia's website, Eating Academy. Your carb requirements & timing of carbs depend on the type of exercise. The general consensus is that if you mostly do weight training and cardio exercise, you can fully function on ketones and don't need any extra carbs. If, however, you do a lot of HIIT or Cross Fit, you may benefit from carb backloading, as the standard ketogenic diet may not be best for you.

Cancer management

Some people may follow a more restricted type of the ketogenic diet for therapeutic purposes. Ideally, the ketone level should be high while the blood sugar level should be low. Using total carbs and following a VLC diet may be a better way of counting carbs. You can find out more about using the ketogenic diet for therapeutic purposes in this post and even more on Alix's blog.

What Do Experts Say?

There are differences of opinion even among experts not only whether to count total or net carbs but also regarding the "ideal" carb level. Dr Volek & Phinney suggest that ~ 50 g of total carbs a day is enough to induce nutritional ketosis. This is 20-35 grams of net carbs depending on the fibre content. Most people on a ketogenic diet successfully follow this approach.

This approach is different from Dr. Westman's approach who suggests that ~ 20 g of total carbs a day is what you should be aiming for. If you choose to follow a VLC diet, make sure you get sufficient micronutrients and include supplements, especially magnesium. You won't be able to eat avocados, some vegetables or psyllium husk powder unless you use very small amounts.

Should some healthy low-carb foods be avoided because they are high in total carbs? In fact, two thirds of the fibre in most foods is insoluble = have zero effect on blood sugar and zero calories. As I mentioned above, although more studies are needed to understand the effects of dietary fibre on metabolic health, it seems that soluble fibre can, in fact, lower blood glucose levels. (Lattimer et al. 2010)

Bottom Line: There is no "wrong" way, you can use either total carbs or net carbs. Choosing the "best" way for you depends on what you are trying to achieve by following the ketogenic diet.

Other Factors Which Play a Role in Weight Loss

Don't focus only on your carb intake. How about your protein or fat intake? It's a common misconception that you can eat unlimited amount of calories and still lose weight. In fact, you can put on weight even on a low-carb diet. To avoid this mistake, you will need to understand a few basic principles and avoid common mistakes. Make sure you eat enough protein, not just fat - protein is the most sating macronutrient and will keep hunger at bay.

Low-carb ketogenic diets are naturally sating and act as appetite suppressants. This is why you'll eat less and won't need to count calories which is one of the main effects of low-carb diets. In fact, to lose weight or/and stay in ketosis, you don't need to follow a VLC.

One of the common mistakes people make is that some people overeat dairy and nuts when they are trying to lose weight. You may experience weight stalling or even weight gain not because nuts and dairy will kick you out of ketosis but because these foods are calorie-dense and easy to overeat (100 grams of macadamia nuts have over 700 kcal and over 70 grams of fat!) There is no reason to avoid non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers or fruits like avocado or berries. These foods are very high in micronutrients, low in carbs and won't impair your weight loss efforts.

If for any reason your weight is stalling for more than 2-3 weeks, you may need to consider keeping an eye on your energy intake (calories). Reaching a weight loss plateau may be caused by several factors and you don't necessarily have to be eating too much, in fact, you may discover that you haven't been eating enough. In my experience, losing body fat becomes more and more difficult as you get close to your target weight.

To make it easy for you to calculate your ideal macronutrients on a ketogenic diet, we developed a free online keto calculator, KetoDiet Buddy - try it now!

Ideally, you may also want to talk to an expert with experience in low-carb diets. My good friend, Franziska Spritzler, who is a low-carb dietitian, has great experience helping people lose weight and manage diabetes.

What to Be Careful About

1. Labels

No matter which path you choose, make sure you know how carbs are calculated where you live. In countries like US or Canada, total carbs as labelled include fibre - to get net carbs, you have to deduct fibre. Contrary to the US and Canada, in countries like UK or Australia, total carbs labelled do NOT include fibre, which means they already represent what is known as net carbs in the US.

Total Carbs or Net Carbs: What Really Counts?

2. Low-carb Sweeteners

The vast majority of low-carb sweeteners are often advertised as "sugar-free", "carbs-free" or "zero-carb". However, this is not always true. Some sweeteners like stevia, Erythritol or monk fruit extract contain very little carbs while others like Xylitol or Tagatose contain more carbs.

When using Swerve, Erythritol, Xylitol or sweeteners containing fructooligosaccharides (FOS), always remember to add carbs. What I noticed is that some people subtract all low-carb sweeteners and count them as "zero" - this is not right. I have explained my "safe" method of calculating carbs in sweeteners here.

3. Products labelled "Low-carb"

Avoid most products labelled low-carb / zero-carb, etc. Atkins bars, Julian's Bakery bread and Dreamfields low-carb pasta are just some of the many products to avoid. They contain more effective carbs than the manufacturer claims and are often laden with unhealthy ingredients. I have written more about low-carb products in my post here.

Summary

Latest research shows that soluble fibre reduces blood sugar and improves overall glucose disposal. However, more studies on the effects of soluble fibre on blood sugar and metabolic health are needed.

Tracking net carbs is an effective way for weight loss and those who want to improve their overall health. After all, it' not just about the level of ketones in your blood stream. However, tracking total carbs may be a more suitable way for managing a disease (cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, etc.).

If you choose to track total carbs and follow a very low-carb diet, make sure you get enough micronutrients or supplement your diet. Very low-carb diets (20 grams of total carbs or less) are often deficient in several micronutrients (magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin E, A, C, iron, thiamine, folate and zinc).

There are other factors that play role in successful weight loss: protein and fat intake, stress levels, etc. You can read more about them here: Top Weight Loss Mistakes

Most foods contain both types of fibre, mostly insoluble. The fibre content in most foods is about two thirds insoluble and one third soluble. Avocados, psyllium husk powder and some vegetables are higher in soluble fibre, while foods like nuts and some types of vegetables are high in insoluble fibre. While soluble fibre contains calories, there are no calories in insoluble fibre.

To read more about carbohydrates on a low-carb diet, have a look at my two posts: All You Need to Know About Carbs and How Many Carbs per Day?

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By Martina Slajerova
Creator of KetoDietApp.com

Martina Slajerova

I changed the way I ate in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. I had no energy, and I found it more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s when I decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic approach to food.

Let us know what you think, rate this post!

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Comments (107)

Thank you for this one!  It clarifies a lot!

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Wow. This article is atrocious. NET carbs = WITH fiber factored in. Several times you emphasized it as “without fiber”, so it wasn’t a typo or mistake. Hard to take anyone seriously who doesn’t understand the basics.

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The only atrocious thing here is your comment. You may be super confident but you are completely wrong. Just in case this makes things easier for you:
Net carbs = Total carbs minus Fibre which means that you do not count fibre when counting "net carbs". You're welcome.

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What about foods such as baby carrots (raw) and eggplant (steamed or baked without additional ingredients)? I've read diverging opinions on carrots and their effect on insulin production and would really love a definitive answer as they are one of my go-to snacks.
Also - is there any chance that you'll offer a program for PCs in the foreseeable future?
Thanks for any input.

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In general, carrots can be included in small amounts. It also depends on individual body responses (some people will experience blood sugar spikes even with small amounts). and on your daily carb target. Eggplants are fine in moderation: Complete Keto Diet Food List: What to Eat and Avoid
We do have plans to bring KetoDiet to more platforms this year and will do our best!

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I used to think 'net carbs' was some kind of BullShiite accounting trick!
But, from my experience - A 40+ yo man enjoying phenomenal success on the BD 24/7 Regimen (IFF + Low Carb) I have found that certain foods which use net carbs as a selling point,   are actually PREFERABLE.
My favorite example is PITA Bread. There are several out there, my preference these days is Tumaro, but there are lots of others.
At first, I wanted nothing to do with "low-carb...BREAD."  I thought, what's the point. If you can't even give up bread, why are you even on this diet! haha
But, after a while of being on the BD 24/7 regimen and getting amazing results, I thought - Well, if this is my future eating practice, I WOULD like to try some bread.
Here's what I found from eating these low carb pita breads that are typically 12-14g of carbs EACH but net down to 5-6 g when fiber is deducted...
Like any carb, they are kind of addictive. Rare is the day that, when incorporating Pita, I don't eat FOUR (of the 8) slices they give you.
More typically....SIX!
But, as you indicated, it is more filling AND it gets eliminated the next day. Massively. So, it is a NET (pardon the pun) gain!!
I used low-carb Pita (Bandertio is another brand that works) once or twice a week, but may increase strategically.
Begelea
PS Stevia also has a similar effect, but to a much lesser degree. Of course, I use stevia w/BulletProof Coffee when in the fast phase!

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I agree that "low-carb" foods can be addictive. I do make low-carb bread or treats using low-carb sweeteners from time to time which works great because I never feel restricted. Having said that, most of my diet is based around whole, simple foods.

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Hi Martina - you write above:
"This approach is different from Dr. Westman's approach who suggests that ~ 20 g of total carbs a day is what you should be aiming for. If you choose to follow a VLC diet, make sure you get sufficient micronutrients and include supplements, especially magnesium. You won't be able to eat avocados, some vegetables or psyllium husk powder unless you use very small amounts."
My question:  
What do you mean by: "..you won't be able to eat avos, some veg or psyllium husk powder" (PHP)?
I'm new to keto, but PHP seems like a God-send right now in helping me adjust and go low carb....it makes possible a lot of replacements....
And avocados are great fat + some good fiber...?
Thx! 😊

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Hi Evelyn, in this example, one avocado will cover more than half of your daily carbs which doesn't leave many options for the rest of the day. Avocados are high in fibre and if you count "total" carbs and stay at a very low level, you will significantly have to limit their consumption. In my opinion, this is not the ideal way to follow the diet. Foods like avocados should be included and that can only happen if you don't count "net" carbs or if you allow for a higher total carb intake. I prefer counting "net" carbs because this approach allows me to include more nutritious high-fibre foods rather than increasing my carb intake in general. I hope this helps!

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I though it was my imagination that I was less depressed and felt better on low carb. I have hashimoto's and celiac disease. I could live on Smartcakes . I am afraid of this net carb stuff.Do you still lose weight following net carbs? I was 114 lbs forever ,now 128 and cannot lose a pound. I won't leave the house. M

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Hi Mary, when it comes to counting carbs, it depends where you get your them from. If it's mostly vegetables, nuts and whole foods, then it's ok to count "net" carbs as fibre from these foods will not stall your progress. The problem is that if you use "low-carb" products advertising "low net carbs", chances are:
1) they will not be displayed correctly (eg products with Maltitol and sorbitol count these sweeteners as "zero").
2) these products are often addictive and make you crave them more, especially "health" bars.
These products may be convenient but they will only stall your progress. I would personally avoid such products and opt for whole foods. I hope this helps!

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I am a little confused about the ratio of carbs, protein and fat, For instance if you strive for 75% fat does that mean that 75% of your calories come from fat ?? or 75 percent of the weight of the food come from fat
                 Thanks so much

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Hi Dean, the percentage always refer to calories so if you are aiming to get 75% fat, it is calculated from your overall energy intake in calories.

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I am on a low carb low calorie diet. I want to start taking certain supplements but they contain both carbs and calories. Does the supplemental intake affect the daily allotted carb/calorie intake? I.E. daily consumption of carbs is 35 grams. The new supplements are 14 grams. Will I now only be able to consume 21 grams daily from food?

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Hi Jennifer, I think that 14 grams of carbs just from supplements is too much. If I were you I'd find another supplement that is low/zero in carbs and I'd prefer to get my carbs from food together with other nutrients.

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Avocado’s are high calorie too, pretty random to talk about weightloss stalling efffect of nuts and than proceed to say avocado’s are no problem.

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I listed foods that are most commonly overeaten - that is the main point. We can always include all foods that are high in calories but that wouldn't help most people as it would simply be a list of high calorie foods. If you eat loads of avocados every day on top of your regular meals and they don't fill you up (very unlikely) then yes, avocados may be an issue for you too.

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Hi Martina,
I am Graves and have been battling weight and inflamation for years. I have recently started following Keto and IF and feel like they are bringing me back to life. I really appreciate all you have learned to help heal yourself and I gratefully thank you for sharing.

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Thank you for your kind words, Catherine!

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ive been told i need about 1.2g to 0.8 g of protein per lean muscle but to much could cause me to not go in to ketosis. dew to protein converting into glycogen. so best approach at the start of my diet?

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Hi Chris, there's misinformation about the ideal protein intake. The ideal protein intake varies for individuals and depends on several factors (lean mass, activity levels, etc). In fact, lack of protein will likely cause weight stalling and increased hunger. Our Keto Calculator takes all these into account. You can read more here: Ketogenic Nutrition and Exercise: Protein

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Just curious, I started the Keto diet 3 weeks ago and heard that using Swerve would be a great replacement for Sugar.. why? they have the same amount of carbs....4 per tsp.
Thanks

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Hi CJ, Swerve is a great low-carb option. Carbs in Swerve are non digestible and do not affect blood sugar. You can read all about sweeteners here: Complete Guide To Sweeteners on a Low-carb Ketogenic Diet

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How would sugar alcohols factor in? Do you subtract it like fiber or does it still count in net carbs?

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Hi Julia, it depends on the type of sugar alcohols. Erythritol has zero effect on blood sugar and almost no calories and you can almost fully exclude it from the carb count. Xylitol does have a small effect on blood sugar and your body can derive more calories from it. You can read more about carbs in sugar alcohols here: Complete Guide To Sweeteners on a Low-carb Ketogenic Diet

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You state that protein is the most satiating macronutrient.  Do you have a source for that?  I thought fibre-rich resistant starch was the most satiating, especially because of its "second meal effect".

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Hi Steven, have a look at this post: All You Need to Know About Protein on a Low-Carb Ketogenic Diet (the part Why is protein so important for weight loss? lists the studies). I hope this helps!

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I'm just beginning to explore the keto way of eating.  I've been vegan for six years but definitely feel best if I avoid grains and gluten. Do you think it's possible to this type of diet as a vegan without running into a nutritional deficit? (I will eat eggs sometimes if they are from happy chickens. They still sort of gross me out but I had such epically low CoQ10 that I added them back.) This is such an informative and helpful website. I love your no-hype approach.
thanks,
Barb

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To get more CoQ10, try eating lots of leafy greens and getting a responsible amount of sun exposure.  Nutritionfacts did a video about new research showing small amount of chlorophyl survives digestion and can be activated to create CoQ10 by sunlight hitting our skin.  Fascinating research.

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Thank you Barb! I do think it's possible but it is very difficult to do that. It's a lot easier if you can eat eggs. You can read more about issues with a vegan approach while following the ketogenic diet here: Ketogenic Diet FAQ: All You Need to Know

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I have been counting total carbs and think I want to switch to net carbs, can I just make the switch or ease into it? I have been following for a week and am down 3.5#, want to keep the momentum going. Advice, please!

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I am following a LCHF diet and I count net carbs, however I am confused by many macronutrient calculators which use net carbs as a percentage of total calories however the total calories does not take into account the calories from fiber.  Although not counted towards net carbs for many, it still figures into the daily calorie count and thus would affect the percentage.
For example (to make it an easy example) let's say my daily calorie intake is 1000 and I am following 5% carb (net), 20% protein and 75% fat.  
If I ate no fiber, this would mean my net carbs would be 12.5g, 50g protein, 83g fat.  
However, if I eat 10g of fiber per day, my net carbs don't change, but 1) the macronutrient ratios for calories would need to change OR 2) my total daily intake of calories would have to change.
For scenario 1) Total carbs would now be 9% of calories
OR
2) Total daily calories would need to increase to 1040 to account for fiber calories.
So my questions are:
Is my total daily calorie intake actually higher depending on fiber eaten?
What happens to the fiber calories in these calculations?

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What matters is not the percentages but values in grams. What this means is that for some people, the ideal macronutrients may be 5% carbs, 40% protein and 50% fat - that is because fat is what is used as a "filler". The general recommendation of 5% carbs, 20% protein and 75% fat does not apply universally.
Although the calculator doesn't take into account calories from fibre, it's not necessary to determine your energy intake (calories) from fibre because it's insignificant. Our body can only derive calories from soluble fibre (not from insoluble fibre), and only at 2 kcal per gram of soluble fibre. Let's say half of your fibre intake is soluble. What this will look like on a low-carb diet with 50 grams of total carbs, 25 grams of fibre and 25 grams of net carbs:
- 25 grams is fibre, 50% of it is soluble, which means that this will contribute to 25 kcal (calories) = 12.5 grams of soluble fibre x 2 kcal per gram of soluble fibre.
- 25 calories is insignificant and will make no difference.
Also, make sure your calorie intake is not too low. Following a diet with <1,200 kcal would be counterproductive: KetoDiet Buddy - Easy Way to Calculate Your Macros on a Ketogenic Diet

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Hi 😊 thank you for a great article.
I seem to be kicked out of keto everytime i eat any more than 30 TOTAL carbs. Last year this wasnt the case and if i remember correctly i was eating 50 carbs yet still in keto.
Just curious if u have any ideas or suggestions about this.
Thank you 😊

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I've actually experienced the opposite but I suppose this is where it's different for everyone. I used to be very low-carb (below 20 grams net), now I eat 30-40 grams of net carbs and mostly stay in ketosis. I do, however, work out 5 times per week and that may be why I can tolerate more carbs.

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Thank you so much for this article.  I am on my own pursuing a LCHF diet and the first week was miserable.  I lost 10 lbs but was eating unhealthy (only dairy and meats, a bit of spinach).  I have since rotated a lot more vegetables into it, finding that if I eat cabbage, zucchini, bell pepper, spinach, butter lettuce... I feel much better.  My carbs may be a bit more (40-50g a day) but overall I feel more satisfied and healthier.  This article kind of breaks down what I was finding and puts my mind at ease that I can still have an effective diet even with hitting some higher total carb marks.
I've been overweight my entire life and I'm on my path to my target weight by April.
Thanks for your advice, research and app!

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Thank you for your kind words! Contrary to what many people think, you don't need to follow a zero-carb diet to lose or maintain your weight. I eat on average 40-50 g total carbs (20-30 g net carbs) and I feel great. Here's why high ketone levels won't guarantee weight loss: Do Ketones Matter?

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I am 60 years old and have diabetes and severe heart disease (over 70% of my heart muscle is dead). My cardiologist and internal medicine doctor tell me to just follow the American Diabetes Association diet, which has resulted in weight loss, a constant of insulin (2 types), and an over all feeling of doom.
I started the Ketogenic diet on my own just by watching YouTube videos. During the past 6 months, I have only required 2 insulin injections as my glucose is normal. And I have eliminated 6 medications. I've decided doctors just want to push pills and meds and really arn't concerned that I improve - they just want me to stay the same.
Is there an electronic device that I can use to calculate my daily macros? I'd like to input the recipie for a delicious almond flour cake I just ate, as well as what else I have eaten today, and have it calculate my final total for the day. Please help me if you can - I am literally about to die!
Daymon Fikes

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Well done Daymon! Our universal iOS app (KetoDiet) will be out in January. The current version only works on the iPad and we are porting it to the iPhone (Android coming in mid 2017). The universal app can track your progress and you can plan your diet - KetoDiet Buddy will be integrated in the universal app as well: KetoDiet Buddy - Easy Way to Calculate Your Macros on a Ketogenic Diet

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Great article! I clicked on it in my Google search for psyllium husk (I was searching for its nutritional benefits within the context of a ketogenic diet and wanted to know the ideal serving size). It says in your table that 1 cup is standard - is that true?! That's a lot!

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Yes, that is definitely too much. I think that the "serving" size is not representative of what people would eat but it's good as a comparison of soluble/insoluble fibre content. I'd say that a tablespoon is probably more of a serving size.

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You rock also great App!

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Thank you Christos!

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Hi,
I apologise for this question in advance.  I live in the UK.
I have been trying to follow the keto diet, I have been inputting all of my food on My fitness pal, my question is how do people eat low carb, Each day the indicator tells me I have gone over the 20g carbs. For example 1 day i ate 2 chick breast's  with 2 tblsp of cottage cheese, it said i had gone over the 20g limit?? Another day I had a green salad with tuna it said 26g of carbs, how does anyone eat veg and keep within the 20g limit and loose weight? I am totally confused, I would appreciate any advice please.  

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Hi Jaci, you don't need to stay below 20 grams of carbs. That is just one of the approaches you can follow. If you follow the diet to maintain or lose weight, you don't need to keep your carbs so low. Have a look at this post for more info: How To Low Carb: 15+ Common Weight Loss Mistakes

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I'm clearly missing something here. I lost 115 pounds about 4 years ago; I've not only kept it all off, I also lowered my cholesterol from 331 to 147 and lowered my blood sugar enough to no longer require any p.o. meds or occasional insulin. I did all that (and still do)by eating unlimited calories and fat: butter, bacon, eggs, cheese, hamburger, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado... and when  I say unlimited, I'm talking about a 1/2 pound to a full pound of butter a day...MINIMUM. In fact, I sometimes eat constantly, all day long(attention span of chimpanzee; must be doing 85 things at once, uncutI have a carb 'cheat day' every 21 days in which I allow myself to eat anything as long as I keep my carb intake under 75 (its a lot). I haven't had a blood sugar above 137 or an A1C above 4.8 since I started this and I'm 54 years old, so I am no spring chicken. My normal blood sugar hovers around 106 and it's always 120-130s the day after 'cheat day'.....
I guess my point is that when  I initially began LC, I did NOT hit the internet..I purposely stayed away from it and ate as much ľow carb, high fat as I wanted.... once I ate 3 pounds of bacon in a single day (stress, rather binge eating....after my son suddenly... tragically passed away).
I stay under 35-45 NET carbs a day and do just fine.
Apparently we all really are different!

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Yes, we are all different. I'm glad you found what works best for you!

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Thanks for your detailed explanation on net carbs vs carbs. I can always count on you to give a most thorough answer backed with research to a Keto question.

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Thank you Karen!

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