What Are Net Carbs?
In this article, we’ll be discussing the differences between all the different kinds of carbs, their function in the body, the proportions you should eat them in, and further how they tie into the keto diet as a whole!
We’ll pay special attention to the carbs known as “NET”.
Carbs: Types and Function
In recent years, carbohydrates have garnered a lot of controversy. Some people see them as the devil and think they’ll make you fat if you eat even just a gram! While others don’t really care and just eat however they want. But especially with Ketogenic Diets gaining more traction, it’s good to know their point, besides just quick energy for your body.
First, there are three categories of carbohydrates.
Sugars are short in their molecular chain and can get used up quickly. Just think of sugar and candy.
Starches-Which have a longer molecular chain. They take a long time to be used up and instead give you a more consistent energy release, vs just a single burst. Potatoes and rice are good examples.
Fiber-Which isn’t really at all like the other carbohydrates. Your body can’t digest them; instead, they facilitate your digestive system in processing other carbs, the foods you eat and make it easier to use the bathroom, for lack of a better term.
The Role of Carbs in The Body:
The basic rundown is that the carbohydrates in food are broken down and turned into glucose, which is converted again into glycogen.
Glycogen isn’t too important to know at the moment, but it’s what stores energy in your muscles and livers for immediate use. The main differences come now when you compare fast-absorbing carbs and slow-absorbing carbs. As their names suggest, they’re distinguished by how quickly they can act in the body, how quickly they adjust your blood sugar, how quickly they replenish glycogen, and how quickly they can be absorbed. These rates of absorption are known as the “Glycemic Index.” As a result, mixed carbs (which contain more than one carb category) absorb more slowly in relation to the amount of starch and fiber they contain. GI increases with sugar, while complex starches and fiber have a lower GI and are slower absorbing carbohydrates.
Over the past few decades, high fat and low carb diets have become increasingly popular, which has reduced the popularity of carbs in general. This happens constantly - people think fats are bad for them. Then they think carbs are bad. Then they think fats are bad again. It’s a never-ending cycle.
Carbs natural for your body and are supposed to be there. The only issue is the extreme excess. Currently, the problem with carbs is overeating and particularly overeating refined carbs that are high in sugar. There is nothing wrong with them when they are consumed in moderation and in balance with your personal activity levels, but too much combined with an excess of calories is a risk factor for type-2 diabetes and other health problems.
We need to change how we see carbs in our diet and how we can better incorporate them into the diet. Completely cutting off carbs is not a good idea for everyone, and they are instrumental in your body's day-to-day functions. Instead, we need to limit them and maximize their efficiency. NET Carbs and Total Carbs NET carbs are the total amount of carbohydrates in a given food. These NETs are typically what we think of when we think of carbohydrates, the energy-givers, the quick or long-term bursts of power. The exciting part is that fibers actually don’t count as NET carbs. Any keto-based diet is going to try and regulate primarily NET carbs, while fibers are more free-reign in how you can have them. Fibers don’t have calories in the same sense, but they still provide your body with a lot of support.
How the Body Responds to NET Carbs
As your body digests carbs, it sends various signals through your neuroendocrine system to indicate that you have energy available and food has been eaten. Insulin levels rise and then carry these carbohydrates where they’re needed. However, the insulin response can become desensitized if you consistently eat a high-carb diet. Your body gets accustomed to it, and you don't feel an urgent need for it. The issue then arises because you can’t process sugar effectively. Diabetes can emerge at worst, and at best fat increases in the body.
Why is Fiber Different?
Dietary fiber is a kind of carbohydrate that can’t be used for energy. But instead, they help with auxiliary digestive functions and even cognitive functions. Then logically, the best kind of high-carb food is one that has a good balance between NET and fibers, and consistently eating these sorts of foods can help stabilize your metabolism, give you more consistent and relieving bowel movements, and insulin resistance plummets!
Carb Intake Balance
What are the best ways to moderate carbohydrates?
The amount of carbs you eat needs to be directly proportional to how much physical exercise you engage in. The carbs you eat should be proportional to the amount of physical activity You don’t need many carbs if you’re sedentary, but someone who does HIIT sorts needs about 45% of their calories from carbs. The more you damage your muscles, the more carbs you’ll need to keep up energy demands for repair.
Carb Timing and Targeted-Use
The simple rule around carb consumption is the closer you are to strenuous activity, the higher GI of carbs you should consume. Your body in that state needs immediate energy and burns through it extremely quickly, so fast-release carbs serve that purpose perfectly. While the rest of the day, all you really need are low-GI carbs. In addition to keeping you feeling full for a longer period of time, they also stabilize your energy levels.
The idea isn't to overeat, but rather to treat yourself to some of the sugary foods you love around the time we exercise, in moderation. Exercises like weight training, high-intensity interval training, or mixed-demand training are boosted through diet adherence.
Keto: How NET Carbs Make Keto Easier
So now, really, how does this all tie into the keto diet?
All of it comes back to carbs, which ones you should eat, and when and how you should eat them. On keto, you need to cut down on your NET carbs and make sure you keep your fiber intake up. But, when it comes to NET carbs, you don’t just need to cut them down, you need to time them. Make sure you eat the highest GI ones around the most physically demanding times of the day and any other time you eat low GI foods.
Adhering to this diet properly should give you much more energy, better overall weight loss, and just a better satisfaction in life.