should you calculate net or gross carbs?


If you are trying to meet a goal of a certain amount of carbohydrates per day, or if you’re a diabetic who is trying to determine how much insulin to take, you want to count net carbs, not gross carbs. By looking at Nutrition Facts, like on the corn tortilla label above, the total carbohydrates (aka gross carbs) is 15 grams. Dietary fiber is a non-digestible carb so it won’t affect glucose, so you can deduct the fiber; here it’s 1 gram, so subtract 1 from the total carbs: 15. See examples below:


  •  1 corn tortilla: 15 total carbohydrates (gross carbs) – 1 gram fiber = 14 grams net carbs
  • 1 mango: 50 total carbohydrates (gross carbs) – 5 grams of fiber = 45 grams net carbs


As a diabetic, I only care about net carbs. If I had used gross carbs to calculate how much insulin to take, I might inject too much medicine, and risk having low blood sugar, which can be very dangerous.


Since I also keep an eye on how many carbs I eat to stay slender, since carb calories add up quickly, I need to be concerned only about net carbs, since carbs from fiber have zero calories (yeah!).

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