What Are Net Carbs?

If you pay any attention to product packaging, you may have noticed a new advertising trend. It’s featuring an item’s “net carbs.” What does net carbs mean? And should you be paying attention to it?

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.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Hey Davey! Great article, generally, but I think you should clarify this one statement for people: “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.”

    Specifically, that’s good advice for SOME people: people who are just trying to get in shape, or people who are on a weight-loss diet.

    But the truth is, it depends on your goals. If you’re looking to put on muscle, either as a bodybuilder or an athlete, then you absolutely need to pay attention to how much carbs you are getting, and what time of day you are getting them, and the types of carbs you are getting.

    I’m training a guy right now who is trying to get bigger, and my biggest challenge is getting him to eat enough complex carbs at the right time of day. If he doesn’t get 3-4 small meals with plain (no sugar added) oatmeal before he gets to the gym, he can’t lift as much. He NEEDS to think about “total carbs”.

    So while your answer is good, it’s incomplete: the total answer depends on a person’s goals.

  2. christopher says:

    bottom line-portions and calorie control-that really helps.seems to be to some peoples thinking that there is one fine line to watch.this is probably why ive been watching my intake of unnecessary carb intake-like extra bread-pasta-no pizza-or empty carbs like corn.

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  4. I had this idiot tell me he can eat all the fruit he wants because of net carbs. LOL

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