Get the Skinny on Carb Counting: The Skinny on NET CARBS

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If you're counting carbs because you're watching your weight, your blood sugar, or following a keto diet, it's important to know that not all carbs are the same – and “net” carbs matter. Today we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly on how to calculate net carbs + how this fits in with your daily allotment of carbs.

Most carbs have four calories per gram. But sugar alcohols in food changes the 'rules' about counting carbs.

Sugar alcohols are used as reduced-calorie sweeteners in products like ice cream, beverages, and protein bars, providing bulk and texture similar to sugar. Some of the more common sugar alcohols include erythritol, maltitol, xylitol and sorbitol. Common brands include Swerve and Truvia.

On average, sugar alcohols provide about half the carbs and calories of regular sugar. But sugar alcohols like erythritol have less than 0.02 calories per gram.

American Diabetes Association recommends the following guidelines to account for sugar alcohol when counting carbs:

If a food has 5 or more grams of sugar alcohols per serving, subtract HALF the grams of sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrates.

Example:  If a food has 25 grams of carbs and 18 grams of sugar alcohol, subtract 9 grams from the total, yielding 16 grams of 'impact' or ‘net’ carbohydrates. See for more details and examples.

EXCEPTION: For erythritol (e.g. Swerve), subtract ALL of the sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrates.

For more information on blood sugar control, read Counting Carbs:  Molly’s step-by-step guide to managing diabetes with diet and exercise.

To schedule a consult with a registered dietitian, contact Rebecca Miller, MS, RD at 504.842.9551 or or Alexis Weilbaecher, RD, at 504.736.4755 or

Type Cals/gram Sweetness compared to sugar Typical Food Applications
Sorbitol   2.6 50 - 70% Sugar-free candies, gum, frozen desserts and baked goods
Xylitol 2.4 100% Gum, hard candy, pharmaceuticals and oral health products: cough drops, cough syrups, toothpaste, mouthwashes
Maltitol 2.1 75% Hard candies, gum, chocolates, baked goods, ice cream
Erythritol 0 - 0.2* 60 - 80% Bulk sweetener in low calorie foods
* FDA accepts 0.2 kcal/g, but some other countries, such as Japan and the European Union, accept 0 kcal/g.




Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD


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