First things first, carbohydrates are found in breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables and in some dairy products.
Though they get a bad rap, your body needs carbohydrates – especially if you take part in regular activity. And although carbohydrates are important in your diet, not all of them are created equal. Wholegrain cereals and grains are much better for you than refined cereals and grains; they retain more of their nutrients, contain more fiber and don’t impact blood sugar levels as significantly.
Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates labeling, there’s currently no official definition for net carbs. But, in general, net carbs are defined as total carbohydrates minus the carbohydrates that don’t affect blood sugar levels (such as fiber or sugar alcohols).
For example, I buy wraps for my sandwiches. The nutrition information lists 13 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of fiber. As such, the packaging advertises only 7 net carbs. Because the fiber carbohydrates don’t result in a spike in blood sugar levels, advertisers subtract these carbs to calculate the net carb total.
If you’re insulin resistant, have diabetes or issues with blood sugar levels, it’s important to monitor carbohydrate intake. But, in today’s anti-carbohydrate world, it’s easy to get carried away. If you have tried a low-carb diet, you may have noticed feelings of tiredness, an inability to concentrate, a decreased reaction time and a feeling that every small task is hard to do. It’s because your body – and your brain – rely on carbohydrates to function properly.
Instead of focusing on carbs or net carbs, my advice would be to put your energy and attention on portion size and the number of calories that you consume.