Carbs have been a hot topic in nutrition and diet culture for decades. Whether you love them or hate them, it’s important to at least acknowledge that not all carbs are created equal. Specifically, we’re going to look at the KETO diet, and what role carbs play within it.
In case you aren’t already familiar with it, a keto diet requires that you get five to 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates (or generally 20g of carbs), 15 to 30 percent from protein, and at least 70 to 80 percent from fat–that is almost double the amount of fat and half as many carbohydrates as a typical low-carb diet would recommend.
Our bodies’ primary source of energy is glucose, which comes from sugar, or carbs. The science behind a keto diet is that by restricting carbohydrates, your body goes into a metabolic state called Ketosis, and becomes highly efficient at using fat for energy because it lacks normal access to glucose. If you’re interested in reading more about the Keto Diet, check out these articles for more specifics.
Today, we’re talking about Carbs, and how they fit into all this. Saying you have to “limit carbs” is kind of an oversimplification of instructions. Carbs come in all shapes and sizes, and our body is able to digest some carbs really easily but can’t digest others at all. This is where the idea of “Net Carbs” comes into play.
Let’s look at an apple for an example. Apples are considered healthy, packed with nutrition, contain natural sugars, and fiber, and are a whole, natural, unprocessed food source. But, they do still contain carbs. A large apple has on average about 30g of TOTAL carbs. But some of those carbs come from indigestible fiber, meaning they wont be absorbed by the body. If we subtract the amount of indigestible fiber from the TOTAL Carbs, we get the NET Carbs or all the carbs that are left that the body does actually absorb.
Here’s a list with some examples comparing TOTAL carbs vs NET carbs in common produce:
The argument is since the body doesn’t absorb those indigestible carbs, should they count towards a keto diet 20g daily carb limit? Our conclusion is: It depends on your goals.
Keto diets are not just for weight loss, they can also help diabetic patients maintain their blood sugar levels, or help patients with epilepsy reduce the frequency of seizures. In those cases, it may be best to count TOTAL Carbs, as there are other underlying health implications that need to be considered. If you are only following a Keto diet for weight loss or management, counting NET carbs will probably work fine for your goals.
There’s no real hard line, and the best nutrition plan is one that you can actually follow. Limiting carbs can be a tough adjustment for anyone who’s used to having carbs on a daily basis. Especially since a lot of vegetables can even be pretty carb heavy. So if counting NET carbs helps you ease into a Keto diet, there’s plenty of evidence to show that your efforts will still be effective. If you decide to count TOTAL carbs, you’re obviously going to see results as well.
As with any diet or nutrition plan, it is important to consult with your doctor or dietician. Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s body is going to respond differently.
If you are on a Keto diet already, we encourage you to stop by our shop to check out our seasonal rotation of low-carb dishes, baked goods, and meal-building options! Our staff is always happy to help if you have questions about any of our offerings. Feel free to order online as well and schedule a pickup for a day and time that’s convenient for your schedule.