When I decided to start eating low carb, I had no idea how to figure out net carbs. It’s actually super easy, so it didn’t take me long to pick up on it.
In this post I’ll show you how to calculate net carbs, and how to figure out net carbs on foods without labels such as fast food and fresh produce and others.
I admit, it was (or seemed) a bit confusing at first, because some things can seem very high carb (relatively speaking). Take almonds for example. If you didn’t know to subtract the fiber, they would seem higher carb than some other snacks.
I’ll start with an easy example…
Take the product to the left, Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter. With packaged products it’s generally easy because you can flip over and check out the nutrition facts right on the label.
For this product, the nutrition label is:
First, look at the Total Carbohydrates, which on this label is 6g.
That’s 6 grams of total carbs.
To get the net carbs, you subtract the Fiber – which on this label is 2g. That makes the peanut butter a total of 4 net carbs (6 minus 2) for a two tablespoon serving.
It’s easy math: total carbs minus fiber.
I honestly thought it was going to be complicated, especially when I realized I had to learn how to figure out net carbs – not just read the label and see how many carbs it has. But as you can see, it’s super simple – and now I do it in a flash, like second nature.
How to Figure Out Net Carbs on Foods Without Labels
For produce, or any other fresh food without a label, you can use the USDA National Nutrient Database. I haven’t found ALL online sources to be accurate, so this is a good resource to bookmark.
For example, I put in “strawberry” and chose the “fruit” group – and it told me that a strawberry is generally 1 net carb per berry (which is what I have found other places as well).
Next I tried “frozen chopped spinach” which I sometimes like in an omelet or something. Half a cup is about 1 net carb (again, subtracting the high amount of fiber from the total carbohydrates).
This is a handy search tool to keep. I often just Google “food nutrition facts” – replacing “food” with the actual food I am researching.
For restaurants, I search “restaurant nutrition facts”. I usually view these before I go out and make my meal choices ahead of time. I also look them up on my smart phone when I’m on the go and stop in somewhere. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can usually request a nutrition fact sheet at the restaurant – but not always. I recommend looking them up before you head out to make it easy. 😉
I also referred to the Atkins Acceptable Food List for Phase 1 of their eating plan quite a bit in the beginning. Not only did it give me the net carbs on specific vegetables and other foods, it gave me a lot of ideas on things I could eat – various types of meat & vegetables I hadn’t considered, etc.
So again, it’s just “Total Carbs minus Fiber = Net Carbs”. Easy!