Low Carb Nugget 66
Math to the rescue? Net carbs are the difference between total carbs in a food and the fiber. The idea is that fiber doesn’t do much if anything to raise your blood glucose, so you can safely ignore it. Keep your net carbs low, and you’ll keep your blood glucose and insulin response low. Then your body can burn fat.
But can you trust net carbs as a guide for eating?
Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet (aff. link). Jimmy Moore and Eric Westman. 2014.
“Net Carb Scam.” Jimmy Moore. LivinLowCarbMan. Facebook. September 9, 2017.
“Net carbs defended.” Jim Anderson. Life after Carbs. May 1, 2015.
Low Carb Nugget 66
“Net carbs vs. total carbs”
This is Episode 66 of the Low Carb Nugget for Tuesday, October 10, 2017. I’m Jim Anderson.
I’m back from a one-episode hiatus, and glad to be here. Today my topic is one that I’ve been pondering since I rebooted my ketogenic diet a couple weeks ago, “net carbs.”
In setting the initial macronutrient targets for my diet, I focused on “net carbs,” sometimes called “effective carbs.” This is the difference between the total carbs in a food and the fiber, the idea being that the fiber doesn’t do much to raise your blood glucose, if anything, so you can safely ignore it. Keep your net carbs low, and you’ll keep your blood glucose and insulin response low. Then you will burn fat and lose weight.
I first ran across the net carb concept in 2011 when I read one of the books by Dr. Robert Atkins. In 2011-2012, I used net carbs as my guide. I generally kept my net carbs under 35 grams a day, and I lost significant weight. Of course, my total carbs in this same period were also low, around 48 grams a day. I hate to think what my daily total carbs were before I started eating LCHF in 2011. My guess is 300 grams or more. Probably 400 grams some days. So, whether I focus on total carbs or net carbs, this was a huge change in diet, and I lost a lot of weight and inches.
Now, currently, I have set a target for net carbs of 25 grams per day. I have hit that target most days in the last two weeks. To be exact, my net carbs have averaged 24.9 grams per day, with a maximum one day intake of 35 grams. My total carbs have averaged just under 37 grams per day, with a maximum one day intake of 42 grams. So both my net carb and total carb numbers for the past two weeks compare favorably to those of 2011-2012. But so far, I’m not losing much weight. Hardly any, in fact.
Well, OK, I’m only 15 days in. But I’m thinking ahead. My plan has always been to eat low-carb, high-fat with strict record-keeping for three weeks, and then see where I’m at and make adjustments. I’ll stick with that plan and not make dietary changes yet. But I can contemplate possible changes, and one of those changes involves net carbs. Should I continue to be guided by net carbs, or switch to total carbs, instead?
There’s a debate over net carbs in the keto community. One of the critics of concept is well-known lowcarb blogger and podcaster, Jimmy Moore. I first encountered Moore’s negative view of net carbs in the 2015 book that he co-authored with Dr. Eric Westman, Keto Clarity. Basically, that book says we should be leery of net carbs, especially when it comes to packaged foods, and that the prudent course of action for getting in and staying in a state of ketosis is to only pay attention to total carbs. I wrote a blog post about the book at the time, which I entitled “Net carbs defended.” My defense was only partial. I agreed that we should be skeptical about the net carb claims of packaged lowcarb foods.
About a month ago, in a Facebook post, Jimmy Moore restated his argument against using net carbs. His point seems to boil down to not trusting food labels at all, but rather testing to see the effects of the foods we eat on our bodies. That means testing our blood glucose levels and our ketone levels. I’ve never tested my glucose, but I have tested my ketones using the Ketonix Breath Ketone Analyzer, which I bought in 2015. It showed me to be in ketosis when eating the way I am now. Great, but that didn’t necessarily mean I was losing weight.
For me, the bottom line is not ketones nor glucose. It’s not even carb counts. It’s my weight. It’s my waist circumference. I’ll probably keep using the net carb concept, at least when it comes to whole foods, natural foods, or lightly processed foods. That’s mostly what I should be eating, anyway. Of course, I could set my net carb target even lower, and the total carbs would come down with it.
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