What are net carbs?
When talking about carbohydrates, what are we actually talking about?
In the Emotionally Focussed Eating Program, I have learned that this program concentrates on the carbohydrates identified on the food label, across from the line entitled ‘carbohydrates'. However, there is also something called ‘net carbs’.
The Atkins diet for example, is really based on net carbs, not just carbohydrates listed on the label, which is the total carbohydrate number with the subtraction of the fibre content. This net carbs number for the Atkins diet reflects the grams of carbohydrates that significantly impact blood sugar levels. Therefore, the net carb number is mostly always lower than the total carbohydrate number, if the food contains a fibre content.
What is the significance of fibre?
Fibre slows down digestion, which in turn slows down carbohydrate ingestion into your blood stream. Fibre intake helps feeling full longer and so also helps fight off hunger pangs. When you combine dietary fibre with fat, you can slow down the onset of hunger even more. Fat intake, also slows down the rate of which your food leaves your stomach, and as such, your carbohydrate intake is also slowed down in entering your blood stream. Fat adds flavour to food, as well as helps you feel full.
So, in regards to net carbs, dietary fibre is actually a form of carbohydrate that the body cannot break down, in essence it goes right through you, and as such is not converted into blood sugar. So, according to Dr. Atkins, the carbohydrates that are listed on the food label are not distinguished between those that impact blood sugar from those that do not.
So lets take a look at Cinnabon.
A Cinnabon contains 127 grams of carbohydrates according to the chart on their website. The Cinnabon also contains 2 grams of non digestible fibre. In contrast, if we look at a high fibre food such as nuts, the nut would have 2 grams of digestible carbs and the other 3 carbs would be non digestible.
So when I take a look at this distinction between carbohydrates and net carbs, what do I see?
For me, I find this just to be a waste of time doing math. The difference between the net carbs and the carbohydrates listed on the label is negligible, and in my mind a waste of time trying to figure it out. So in my estimation, the devision of carbohydrates into whether they are simple or complex, doesn’t actually really matter. I think that the difference between the two have minimal impact on blood sugar.
So how do you identify how many carbohydrates you’re really eating?
The food label is definitely one way, if you look across from the carbohydrate line on the label, you can see that it will say the percentage of your daily requirement. Lets take a look at the dried mango bag I have in my cupboard. Under nutrition facts it says ‘per 8 pieces’, so across from the carbohydrate line it lists 32g, (which is 32g in those 8 pieces). Under percentage of daily value is listed as 11%, which is the percentage of my carbohydrate intake I need for the day (if you believe in that sort of thing). There is also listed, 2g of fibre within those 8 pieces according to the line on fibre. Yet, when you look at the sugar line, it outlines only 23g of sugar within those 8 pieces. The reason why there is such a significant different between the carbohydrate listed as 32g and the sugar line listed as 23g, is because there are ingredients not listed on the package, such as; lignins, organic acids, sugar alcohols, glycerals, flavonoids, pectins, and gums. These additions are supposed to not have significant impact on blood sugar levels, but that is not the point. They are carbs.
Another way to identify how many carbohydrates you are eating is to Google it, to identify how many carbohydrates are generally in the food you are eating. Based on the Emotionally Focussed Eating program, it isn’t the specifics of the number, but the general carbohydrate number that you add up for your daily intake. The point is, to be able to lower the number to be able to identify what your body can and can not handle.
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