How to calculate net carbs for blood sugar control & weight loss
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How to read nutrition labels: Nutritional labels can be confusing, but it is important to understand how to read nutritional labels when trying to discern if a food is high in calories, high in carbs, and low in fiber. To determine if a food is high in calories, look at the serving size. If one chocolate bar is four servings, and you eat the entire bar at one time, that is a high calorie treat. Pay attention to the serving size because that is the amount, you’re supposed to limit yourself to. One way to lose weight, is to limit portions to the serving size listed on the box or package.
Carbs contain calories, and excess carbs lead to weight gain and higher blood sugars. To figure out how many carbohydrates are in a single serving, you want to tabulate the net carbs to get the true number of carbs you’re absorbing that add to your waistline.
How to count net carbs: To calculate the net carbs in a serving, look at the total carbohydrates, also known as gross carbs. Next, look at the number of grams of fiber. Now that you know the grams of gross carbs and fiber content, subtract the fiber from the total/gross carbs to get the net carbs. For example, on the nutritional label on the oats I have at home, the total carbohydrates are 27 grams. The dietary fiber is 4 grams.
- Total carbohydrates (gross carbs): 27 grams
- Minus – dietary fiber: 4 grams
- = 23 grams of net carbs (27 – 4 = 23 net carbs)
Why is fiber important & why it’s not counted: The reason fiber is subtracted from the carb count, is because carbs from fiber do not impact blood sugar, don’t add any calories, and gets removed from our body. Fiber is a zero-calorie whole-food ingredient. The minimum amount of fiber goal you want to shoot for is 25 grams per day, spread throughout the day. Fiber is like a magic broom, it cleans the gunk out of our bodies. Fiber cleans out bacteria, reduces cancer risk, helps you poop, improves gut microbiota, and aids in weight loss.
How does whole foods help with weight loss? Eating whole foods with fiber, like whole grains (not bread, which is not from whole grains even if it says so, because the grain is pulverized, and the outer kernel removed) keeps you fuller longer and helps you eat less, which is why whole grains are wonderful foods for weight loss. Eat whole grains, such as quinoa and groats, paired with additional vegan protein sources such as beans or tofu, plus healthy whole food fats like nuts and seeds blunt glucose (sugar) spikes. High spikes in blood sugar might give you an energy boost initially, but then you’ll probably end up with an energy crash, where you have a sudden urge to take a nap.
Why do diabetics have to know how to count carbs? While you may not be in the category of someone that needs to lose weight or needs to consume more fiber, calculating net carbs is essential for diabetics when tabulating how much insulin to take. If a diabetic injects insulin based on gross carbs instead of net carbs, blood sugars may go too low, which can be dangerous, and even deadly. As a type-1 diabetic, knowing the net carbs, and measuring or weighing carbs, is how I lost weight and manage my blood sugars.
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