Trading Barbs About The Impact Of ‘Net Carbs’

Filed under: Atkins Diet — @ October 30, 2006

Finally, we have a topic that my fellow Atkins weight loss success story Kent Altena and I actually disagree about. I’m not saying he’s wrong or I’m right necessarily about this subject, but it is quite controversial among many active low-carbers. It’s the issue of “net carbs.”

Most people only vaguely understand what that phrase means and Kent seems to think it’s nothing more than a marketing gimmick to sell products. I agree that companies exploit this “net carbs” or “digestible carbs” claim to peddle their products, but that’s an intelligent way to educate your customers to convince them they need to buy your low-carb food product.

The way I explain it to most people is you don’t have to count the carbohydrates in dietary fiber or sugar alcohols. So, if a product has 15g total carbohydrates with 5g fiber and 9g sugar alcohols, then the product is said to have 1 “net carb.” I have used this simple subtraction method from the very beginning of my low-carb lifestyle and it has served me well.

But Kent disagrees as he explains in his latest Atkins video:


While I am no fan of certain sugar alcohols, especially the dastardly maltitol that Kent mentioned in his video, I do think low-carb foods can help you meet your weight loss goals.

Back in 2004 when I was losing the majority of my weight, I can’t tell you what a lifesaver having low-carb chocolates and other sweet products available to me as I transitioned from eating sugary snacks to sugar-free ones. As Kent alluded to in his video, we do need stricter standards regarding the labeling of what constitutes a “low-carb” product because people are being duped by the hype. Furthermore, sugar-free, low-carb candy companies need a wake-up call to start using better ingredients in their products rather than settling for the cheapest, worst possible sweeteners they can find (do I need to mention the “m” word again?!).

Kent isn’t buying any of the hype about sugar alcohols and only subtracts the fiber in his carb counts. There’s certainly nothing wrong with doing that, but it was not necessary for me when I was losing weight and even now. For the record, Kent believes sugar alcohols should count anywhere between 25-75 percent of what the same amount of sugar carbs would be. He says the body reacts to the sugar alcohol in the same way as it does sugar by releasing insulin into the body. As a result, some people experience stalls in their weight loss while eating low-carb foods containing sugar alcohols.

This has not been my experience, but we are all very different as I have said before. If you notice the scale stops moving downward, then stop eating the low-carb chocolates for a week to see if it makes a difference. Perhaps your body is ultrasensative to the sugar alcohols and adjustments should be made in the amount of these products you consume. For others, it’s a non-issue. Don’t just assume it either is or is not a problem. Monitor it closely for YOU and act accordingly.

There are some invaluable links to other articles about this subject if you are interested in pursuing it further by visiting Kent’s blog. Be sure to leave Kent a comment while you are there thanking him for his hard work and dedication to making these videos about how to do the Atkins diet.


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