Net Carbs vs Total Carbs

You are here:
Estimated reading time: 2 min
Net Carbs


The idea of net carbs is related to the fact that not all food that you consume actually gets absorbed and used by the body. There are certain carbs that the body will not absorb and does not count toward calories. This NutriWiki will cover exactly how to think about and track, your net carbs vs total carbs.


  • Your body will absorb and use all carbohydrates as energy sources, except for fiber (soluble and insoluble) or non-caloric sweeteners (e.g. aspertame, acelsulfame K, stevia).
  • Net carbs is simply: total carbs – non-usable carbohydrates.
  • You can log them separately, but we recommend just logging all your carbohydrate intake.

Understanding Net Carbs vs. Total Carbs

When it comes to managing your carbohydrate intake, understanding the difference between net carbs and total carbs is essential. These terms play a crucial role in determining how carbs impact your diet and overall health. Let’s delve into the meaning of net carbs and total carbs to help you make informed dietary choices.

What Are Total Carbs?

Total carbs refer to the sum of all carbohydrates in a food item, including sugars, fiber, and non-digestible carbohydrates. Your body initially digests and absorbs all of these carbohydrates, converting them into energy. However, not all of these carbs have the same impact on your body’s calorie count.

What Are Net Carbs?

Net carbs, on the other hand, represent the carbohydrates that your body can fully absorb and use for energy.

To calculate net carbs, you subtract the non-usable carbohydrates from the total carbs. Non-usable carbohydrates include fiber (both soluble and insoluble) and non-caloric sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame K, and stevia.

These components do not contribute to your daily calorie intake because your body cannot fully digest them.

How to Calculate Net Carbs

Calculating net carbs is a straightforward process. You take the total carbs listed on a food label and subtract the grams of fiber and non-caloric sweeteners.

The result is the net carb content of the food, which provides a more accurate representation of how carbohydrates affect your body’s energy and nutrition.

Why Consider Net Carbs?

The concept of net carbs offers flexibility in managing your carbohydrate intake, particularly for those who follow low-carb diets or monitor their blood sugar levels.

Some people choose to exclude non-usable carbohydrates when counting their daily carb intake. However, we recommend a different approach.

Our Recommendation

Based on extensive coaching experience and research, we advise you to log all your carbohydrates, including non-usable carbohydrates like fiber and sweeteners, as calorie-containing foods. Why do we suggest this approach?

1. Accuracy in Calorie Counting

Counting all carbohydrates as calorie-containing foods provides a more accurate representation of your caloric intake. This method ensures that you are not underestimating your daily calorie consumption, which is crucial for effective dieting.

2. Simplicity and Consistency

By logging all carbohydrates, you maintain simplicity and consistency in your dietary tracking. It eliminates the need to differentiate between net carbs and total carbs, making it easier to monitor your overall carbohydrate intake.

3. Greater Likelihood of Success

In practice, the difference between the total calorie intake from net carbs and total carbs is often minimal for most individuals. By treating all carbohydrates as calorie-containing, you are more likely to succeed in achieving your dietary goals, whether it’s weight management or blood sugar control.

In conclusion, understanding the distinction between net carbs and total carbs empowers you to make informed choices about your carbohydrate intake. While you can choose to focus solely on net carbs, our recommendation is to log all carbohydrates as calorie-containing foods for precision and effectiveness in managing your diet.

Was this article helpful?
Dislike 4
Views: 10696