Low Carb Mistakes – Net Carbs – Part 1 – Sugar Alcohols


Ok. So a lot of low carbers use a formula called “Net Carbs.” What is “net carbs” and should we count “net carbs” or total carbs?

Net carbs is calculated by taking total carbs, then deducting fiber. Some also deduct sugar alcohols. Is this practice a good idea? First of all, let’s just say that those who follow a ketogenic lifestyle should probably not deduct any carbs if you wish to stay in ketosis. What about those not necessarily maintaining ketosis, should they deduct fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carb count? Depends on a few things.

In Part 2 (HERE), we will discuss fiber. For now, let’s discuss sugar alcohols.

Sugar alcohols are NOT created equally. There is a huge range in their glycemic impacts. The best way to know how they affect you PERSONALLY is to check your blood sugar. However, as a point of reference, here is a table showing the different glycemic indexes of the various sugar alcohols. Keep in mind that table sugar ranks about 65 on the glycemic index.


Unfortunately, if you have seen weight loss stalls or blood sugar spikes with pre-packaged “low carb” or “sugar free” goodies from the store, it is probably because most “sugar free” processed foods use maltitol, which has a high glycemic index, some almost as high as sugar. So, firstly, I’d probably avoid this sugar alcohol altogether. But if you chose to eat it, I’d count ALL the carbs.


Now, many in the low carb cooking circles freely use erythritol because of its zero glycemic index. Many choose to deduct erythritol from their total carb count. If you can make wholesome food at home, can use a zero glycemic natural sweetener and have little to no blood sugar spike, then it might be safe to occasionally enjoy a sweetened treat while deducting the erythritol. This is something you will need to determine for yourself, based on your results. As the expression goes YMMV…right?

Finally, I would like to add, besides CARB QUANTITY, there is the issue of CARB QUALITY. In my opinion, these are EQUALLY important. What is the bottom line of adopting a healthy, low carb lifestyle? Improving health, right? If that is the case, there is a HUGE difference in a homemade treat, and a processed treat. Does this label scream “good health” to you. If we don’t know what the ingredients are, how do we know they are healthy?


This is why I suggest NEVER deducting carbs from processed foods, regardless of the claims on the label. Deducting carbs from homemade foods with natural, zero glycemic index sweeteners, well, that is your decision. But remember, if you decide to do that, “treats” should still be “treats.” We all love treats, just try not to make them part of our daily routine. Reserve them for special occasions. We don’t want to take our old sugar addicted eating habits and just switch those habits to low carb, right 😉

In the next part, we’ll talk about fiber. I will be doing some blood sugar testing which I will share with you to show you that the fiber issue is not as straightforward as it seems. Stay tuned 😉

For “Low Carb Mistakes – Net Carbs – Part 2 – Fiber” click HERE.