Knowing how to count carbs is a crucial part of succeeding on ultra low carb diets like keto. Learn what makes total carbs different from net carbs, how many grams of net carbs are in your diet, and why using net carbs can help your health and keep your keto macros where they need to be. Carbs or carbohydrates are sugars in food that supply energy in the form of calories. This includes all types of sugars including starch, fiber, and sugar alcohols. Net carbs are thought to represent the number of carbohydrates that are actually absorbed by your body – without impacting blood sugar levels and insulin response. While the net carb calculation isn’t perfect, it’s currently the best way to get an idea of how many digestible carbs you’re eating. Low carb diets have been shown to be a successful approach to helping people lose weight. But just like any weight loss strategy, the quality of food and total calories consumed also needs to be taken into consideration to effectively lose weight while getting all of the nutrients we need. A low carb diet is generally considered eating less than grams of carbs per day.
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Starches are made up of long chains of individual glucose sugar units that are linked together. Sugars are much shorter chains compared to starches. In fact, sometimes they are just a single glucose or fructose molecule. Most vegetables, nuts and seeds only have tiny amounts of sugar. Processed and packaged foods often contain added sugars. But sugar is sugar, and your body processes all of it the same way. To learn more about sugars and other sweeteners on a keto or low-carb diet, check out our keto sweeteners guide. Starches and two-unit sugars like sucrose and lactose are too big for your body to absorb. Therefore, after you eat carbs, your body produces enzymes that break them down into single sugar units that can be absorbed. These single sugar units are handled by the body in different ways.