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How to Calculate Net Carbohydrates

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
How to Calculate Net Carbohydrates
A bowl of whole grain pasta. Photo Credit: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images

Low-carbohydrate diets help you lose weight by keeping blood sugar levels steady and controlling hunger. According to the Atkins diet, the term "net carbohydrates" refers to the grams of carbohydrates that actually affect blood sugar and excludes the fiber and sugar alcohol from the carb-containing food. The Food and Drug Administration has not established a food labeling rule for manufacturers to use to determine net carbs, which means how one food company determines net carbs may be different from another. When every carb counts, calculating net carbs yourself using a standard technique may help you better manage your carb intake for weight loss.

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Step 1

Select your carb-containing food that has fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts or beans.

Step 2

Record the total grams of carbohydrates, total grams of fiber and total grams of sugar alcohol from the "Nutrition Facts" label onto a piece of paper.

Step 3

Subtract the grams of dietary fiber from the grams of total carbohydrates to determine the net carbohydrates.

Step 4

Subtract half the grams of sugar alcohol from your net carbohydrates if the number of sugar alcohols is at least 5 grams. Do not confuse the sugar on the label with the sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols, which include sorbitol and mannitol, have fewer calories than regular sugar and have only a minimal effect on blood sugar.

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