Do I Reduce Carbs or Sugar Grams on the Ketogenic Diet

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/12/2024

Net carbs are the secret weapon of the keto diet. But what exactly are they, and why do they matter so much?

You're not alone if you're confused about the difference between total and net carbs. It's a common question with a simple answer that can make or break your success on keto.

In a nutshell, net carbs are the carbs your body can digest and use for energy. To calculate them, you take the total carbs in a food and subtract the fiber and sugar alcohols. What's left is the net carb count.

And when you're trying to stay in ketosis, that number is everything. Ready to become a net carb pro? Let's break it down and make it easy.

Understanding Net Carbs and Their Importance in a Keto Diet

When it comes to following a ketogenic diet, understanding the concept of net carbs is crucial. Net carbs, not total carbs, are what you need to focus on to maintain ketosis and reap the benefits of a keto lifestyle.

So, what exactly are net carbs, and how do they differ from total carbs? Let's explore this essential aspect of the keto diet.

What Are Net Carbs?

Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body can digest and use for energy. To calculate net carbs, you take the total carbohydrates in a food item and subtract the amount of fiber and sugar alcohols.

The formula looks like this: Net Carbs = Total Carbs - Fiber - Sugar Alcohols.

The Role of Fiber in Net Carb Calculation

Fiber is a carbohydrate that your body cannot digest, so it passes through your digestive system without being absorbed.

Because fiber doesn't impact your blood sugar levels or insulin response, it's subtracted from the total carb count when calculating net carbs.

This is why high-fiber foods like vegetables and some fruits can still be enjoyed on a keto diet, as their net carb count is often much lower than their total carb count.

According to experts, the recommended net carb intake on a keto diet is between 20 and 50 grams per day. By keeping your net carb intake within this range, you can maintain ketosis and continue burning fat for fuel.

The Impact of Different Foods on Your Keto Journey

Not all foods are created equal when it comes to their impact on blood sugar levels and ketosis. Understanding which foods to include and which to avoid can make a significant difference in your keto journey.

Vegetables to Include and Avoid

Leafy greens and low-carb vegetables like salads, Brussels sprouts, and kale are excellent choices for a keto diet. These vegetables are high in fiber and nutrients but low in net carbs, so they don't need to be counted in the net carb equation.

On the other hand, vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and beets have more sugar and should be consumed in moderation. Their net carb count should be factored into your daily allowance.

Understanding the Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food raises your blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI, like white bread and sugary snacks, cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, which can kick you out of ketosis.

Low GI foods, such as most vegetables and some fruits, have a slower and more gradual impact on blood sugar. These foods typically have more fiber and less sugar, making them a better choice for a keto diet.

The Effect of Cooking on Food's Glycemic Index

It's important to note that cooking and processing can change a food's glycemic index. For example, a raw carrot has a lower GI than a cooked carrot because the cooking process breaks down the carrot's fiber, making its sugars more readily available for absorption.

Similarly, processed foods like instant oatmeal or mashed potatoes have a higher GI than their whole-food counterparts. When planning your keto meals, consider the food and its preparation.

Navigating Fruits and Grains on a Keto Diet

Fruits and grains can be tricky to navigate on a keto diet due to their higher carb content. However, with a bit of knowledge and careful planning, you can still enjoy these foods in moderation.

Fruits to Favor and Those to Avoid

Berries, like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are generally the most keto-friendly fruits. They're lower in sugar and higher in fiber compared to other fruits, resulting in a lower net carb count and glycemic index.

Conversely, fruits like apples, bananas, and grapes have a higher net carb count and sugar content. These fruits should be limited or avoided on a keto diet, as they can quickly push you over your daily net carb allowance and hinder ketosis.

Why Bread, Grains, and Starches Are Problematic

Bread, grains, and starches are often excluded from a ketogenic diet due to their high carb content and glycemic index. These foods can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, making it challenging to maintain ketosis.

Additionally, many grains contain phytic acid, an antinutrient that can interfere with absorbing essential minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium.

Some people may also have gluten sensitivity, a protein found in many grains, which can lead to digestive issues and inflammation.

While some low-carb bread and grain alternatives are available, such as those made with almond or coconut flour, it's essential to check their net carb count and ingredient list to ensure they fit within your keto plan.

Net Carbs Unraveled

Embark on your keto journey with confidence as you delve into the intricacies of net carbs, paving the way for success.

Discover the magic behind managing your carb intake effectively while indulging in the irresistible allure of a decadent chocolate-covered bacon recipe.

With each savory bite, savor the fusion of rich flavors and the satisfaction of staying true to your keto goals.


Net carbs are your key to keto success. Focusing on this magic number allows you to enjoy a wider variety of foods while still staying in fat-burning mode. It's all about choosing the right carbs and keeping that net count low.

Remember, leafy greens and non-starchy veggies are your friends. Berries are better than apples. And when in doubt, check those labels and do the math. With a little practice, counting net carbs will become second nature.

So go forth and conquer the keto world, one low-carb meal at a time. Your body (and your taste buds) will thank you.

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