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How to Calculate Net Carbs

Many consumers keep their carb counts within strict limits, but knowing how to count a net carb requires a little thought.


  • FACT: 10 years after Robert Atkins published _Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution_ in 1992, an estimated 25 million Americans were on low-carb diets.
  • Step 1: Calculate net carbs by subtracting the fiber and sugar alcohols from the total number of carbohydrates a food product contains -- which is listed on packaged food products. The resulting number will be the net carbs.
  • TIP: Sugar alcohols -- substances that are commonly used as artificial sweeteners -- also fall in the category of indigestible carbohydrates. Examples include mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and other polyols.
  • Step 2: Know that other carbohydrates, like the fiber in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, for example, move slowly through the digestive tract. Much of this fiber isn't digested at all.
  • Step 3: Recognize that not all carbohydrates affect the body in the same way. Simple or refined starches and sugars are absorbed quickly, causing blood sugar levels to rise, while excess simple carbohydrates are stored in the body as fat.

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