As I was looking for some good on-the-go foods at the grocery store the other day, I happened by the snack aisle.
Now, I don’t usually indulge myself in this aisle, but I figured what the hell and looked at the packaging on a few products.
I noticed a term I was just vaguely familiar with, called “net carbs” (NOT “net crabs”, which is something totally different, by the way).
I’d seen it before, but now that I’m bringing the truth to the masses, I decided to dive into it more and see what the deal was here.
Are net carbs alchemy?
Are net carbs magic?
Are net carbs *gasp* VOODOO?!
What is the REAL DEAL with net carbs?
Well the real answer, my friends, is none of the above.
“Net carbs” is a marketing term made up in response to the low-carb craze, and it can be a real confusing one.
The Theory Behind “Net Carbs”
In theory this concept seems to have legs.
Eat carbs, subtract the fiber and/or sugar alcohols, and BOOM… net carbs.
For example, if you have a food with 10 grams of carbs, but 4 grams of fiber, you would subtract 4 from the 10 and get 6 grams “net carbs”.
Things like fiber and sugar alcohols are supposedly not used by the body for energy and have minimal impact on blood sugar levels.
Is this true?
At face value, we can say yes.
Insoluble fiber is not digested by the body, and most sugar alcohols are not a true source of calories…
Some sugar alcohols can raise blood sugar levels, so you’re not safe to eat them in large quantities. They’re also not even real food, and we don’t know the long term effects of consumption yet. Sugar alcohols can also cause all sorts of intestinal discomfort, as anyone that’s eaten a lot of sugar alcohols painfully knows.
Also, the thing with fiber is that too much is not good. If you’re eating over 100 grams of fiber every day in the name of “net carbs”, you could be overdoing it and get some negative side effects, especially if you’re not used to it. The old saying “too much of a good thing” applies here.
An Interesting But Misguided Approach
The problem with net carbs is that you can’t have nothin’ for somethin’ (or somethin’ for nothin’ for that matter).
Everything comes at a cost, and I’m afraid “net carbs” is not any different.
When looking to lose fat and control weight, you need to look at the whole picture, which is CALORIES.
The only thing that matters for fat loss is CALORIES.
I don’t give a damn if you ate 0 grams net carbs in a day, if you are still overfeeding calories (if you’re in a surplus) then you will gain fat.
Foods with low net carbs can also have tons of calories, and advertising 0 grams net carbs can lull people into a false sense of security and actually induce them to eat MORE calories.
If someone were to look at a label and see “ONLY 2 GRAMS NET CARBS!!!” they might mistakenly think they’re only eating 2 Grams TOTAL carbs, and that it must be a low calorie food, which is probably the furthest thing from the truth.
You can put lipstick on a pig all day, but it’s still a pig. Likewise, you can put “ONLY 2 GRAMS NET CARBS!!!” on the package of a calorie dense food all day, and it will still have tons of calories.
Everyone wants a scheme, everyone wants a fast solution, everyone loves to think there’s a shortcut, but they can’t even see the most effective solution (which in the long run is usually even the fastest and most effective) that’s right in front of their eyes…
It is no harder, and no easier, than this.
Now have some people successfully lost lots of fat using this net carb approach? Yes!
Can feeling fuller by eating lots of fiber while using the “net carbs” approach help you lose fat? Yes!
But this is not because it’s some magic cure-all, but because it helps you get into a CALORIE DEFICIT.
Anything that helps you get into a calorie deficit will help you lose fat, even if it’s some marketing thing.
Yes, you could SPEND thousands of dollars on fat loss “solutions”, and quite possibly even lose fat while taking them. You also could SAVE thousands of dollars if you’re just willing to practice a little discipline mixed with willpower, change how much and what you eat, and move your body a little more.
“Net carbs” is another one of those things that will most likely waste your time in your health and fat loss journey.
Can it work for some?
Juggling monkeys and only eating spinach could also help you lose fat if you do it long enough, but you’re probably not going to do that (unless you’re a total badass).
My advice, though, is don’t fall for the hype.
Eat less, move more to get into a calorie deficit.
That’s the prescription for fat loss right there.
Everything else is a waste of time, waste of money, or can work but is just plain unnecessary (and usually expensive).
Unlike shameless marketers would have you believe, losing fat is not glamorous, it’s not fun, it’s not fast, and it’s not easy.
It’s a put your nose to the grindstone type of deal, where consistency and discipline are all that matter, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.
Take care, and shred the fat the right way my friends,
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