Carbs, net carbs and sugars?!

Hi Guys

I need your help… I always get super confused about the difference between Carbs, net carbs and sugars?! I always bolus based on the carbs… For example i just had a cereal bar called Atkins Day Break, and on the Nutrition Facts it says it has 14g of Carbs, 1g Sugars, 2g Net Carbs and 8g Fibers…
What does it mean and how does it impact on my insulin bolus??
Should I consider also the fibers? Btw is it a good idea consuming protein cereal bars for diabetics? Anyone has some advice? Thank you very much, Fabi
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I always subtract fiber from carbs if the fiber is 5g or more per serving.

For that Atkins bar, I’m confused how they get 2g Net Carbs…I thought net carbs was just carbs-fiber (14-8…should be 6)…this one doesn’t seem to be labeled correctly.

Sugars are not too bad 140 after 1 hr … I bolused for the exactly amount of carbs in the nutrition facts… Thanks for sharing Helen :slight_smile:

I also subtract any fiber above 5 grams. So I would bolus for 14 minus 8 = 6. BUT for me, cereal doesn’t work, no matter what the actual carb count, and this is true for many of us, but some people can eat it. So I would bolus for the 6 carbs and see how you do. If it works, great!

Hi Kari, yeah… it says 8 g fiber, 14g carbs and 2g net carbs…
Thanks for the tip about subtracting the fiber from carbs. In this case, considering the info is right, how much would you subtract? For 14g I tabe 1,4 insulin units…
I know its very individual but i am trying to set my own pattern so other references could help.
Thank u!

I’ve been told of the “5 or more” rule for fiber, and it personally doesn’t make sense to me. Does this mean that if you eat half a bar (4g fiber) that it counts as more than a full bar (8g fiber?). There are probably some “Sugar alcohols” in there (maltitol, etc) that isn’t listed. Those often get subtracted by marketers to get net carbs.

Just so you know what’s happening, fiber carbs will eventually be turned into sugar, just over a long period of time – long enough that a non-diabetic wouldn’t notice a BG rise. With sugar alcohols, only part of it gets metabolized, and the rest just passes right through you (hence, the warning of a “laxative effect” on the packaging).

What I do – and it’s not perfect, is count the fibers and sugar alcohols as half a gram each. So if what you’re telling me is that the bar has:
14 g total carb
2 g net carb
1 g sugar (this is NOT sugar alcohol, correct?)
8 g fiber
4 g sugar alcohol (my own calculation: the difference between the total and net is 12 g, so if 8 of them are fiber, 4 must be sugar alcohol)

then I would bolus for 8 grams of carbs. 2 for the “net”, and 6 as half of the fiber+sugar alcohol.

I’ve found mixed results with this, though. You may need to square-wave it over an hour because of the way the fiber and sugar alcohols get metabolized. Check your meter and your CGM (if you have one) and refine as necessary.

Personally, I try to avoid the sugar alcohols (limit to no more than 2 per meal) as they are seemingly marketing gimmicks that give me wild BG fluctuations and bad gastrointestinal reactions. Occasionally I’ll treat myself. High fiber is good for you, high sugar alcohol is not.

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Thank you, Zoe :slight_smile: I am trying to understand my numbers, I will try it!

I would take the same amount of insulin as you for 14g (we must have the same ratio :slight_smile: ). HOWEVER, with that much fiber…I’d have subtracted all the fiber and only given myself the insulin for 6g.

Hi Scott, I always find myself surprised about how much information I still don’t know. Thanks for the detailed response. I had no idea the sugar alcohols were bad for me, I always looked up just for carb info on the food packages. Thank you very much, from now on i will look for nutrition facts in a more accurate perspective…

Thank you Kari :)) I will try next time and let you know…

Definitely subtract fiber from total carbs… fiber is a complex carb that cannot be digested, therefore will not affect your BG. I’d be careful with Atkins bars… sometimes they contain sugar alcohols, which are tricky for me. I have been told to count for half of sugar alcohols in total carbs, but that does not always work because there are a lot of different substances that can be classified as sugar alcohols and some of them have different effects on your blood sugar. I usually try and stay away from bars because they are usually not very filling, I don’t like the taste of the high protein ones, and they can make your BG spike. I really do like KIND bars, however. They have a really yummy PB/dark chocolate one that is 17g carbs. They contain lots of nuts and things that don’t tend to spike my BG. You also have to be careful with some things that are “low carb.” The Dreamfields pasta, for instance, says 10G total carbs per serving. However, if you cook it too long, some of the undigestible carbs will break down into a form that will affect your BG and give you a crazy reading PP.

I only subtract fiber to get net carbs if the food has about 50% or more of fiber. That’s high fiber that makes a difference. Nutritional labels are far more accurate. The numbers on that bar don’t add up:)

Some people can metabolize sugar alcohols & they’ll have the same effect as sugar.

I don’t think cereal protein bars are a particularly healthy choice.

Glad to help; that’s what we’re here for. (When I am here. I’m known to take long absences from TuDiabetes!). I don’t know that I would make a blanket statement that they are bad for you, especially since they seem to be unavoidable – they’re the artificial sweetener of choice in many foods now. But it’s hard to figure out how they affect your blood sugar, and too much of it (15+ grams for me) definitely can give you GI problems… trying not to be too gross here. A few months ago on a day I had planned to attend an NHL hockey game, I indulged on some chocolate with very low net-carbs and high sugar alcohols. After going low (because I bolused too much, because that much goodness can’t POSSIBLY be only five carbs!), then rebounding high, I found myself with terrible stomach cramps and spent more time in the restroom of the Prudential Center than I cared to.

Is that always true that fiber cannot be digested? If so, why the rule to only subtract “if more than five”? Great advice on the pasta, too! I think I’ll stick with the high-yet-predictable kind of carbs.

Hahaha I know what you mean, It happened with me too Scott. I Ate that Chocolate, very low 5 carbs, over bolused because me either, didnt believe it could be just that, haha and then had terrible cramps. Ouch! I didnt know it was related to sugar alcohols, i will stay tuned! Thanks!!

Thank you very much for the explanation. So, in general people say bars are health and i think i never asked myself if it was really true, i just believed but didnt realize teh real impact on me. I will stay tuned, and thanks for the tip, i love the kind bar but thought they would be worse and spike my bg. I have had one once with coconut, maybe this one wasnt the best choice for me. I will try the dark chocolate :slight_smile:
Again, Thanks!!

Thanks Gerri :slight_smile: I will stay far away from bars!! About the fiber i think i will need to do some experiments to understand how much to subtract from the total carbs…, I never ever did that, even to very high fiber foods. Its good to know!

There’s soluble & insoluble fiber, meaning if it dissolves in liquid. Some types of fiber are indigestible. Some are broken down & it aso depends on how efficient individual digestion is. So, the subtract if more than five grams is basically meaningless which is the reason I only subtract fiber if the food has 50% or more fiber.

Why can’t it ever be simple?! There are low carb protein bar recipes on-line that look yummy, if this is something you want to make yourself. Check out this site for a homemade version & also her low carb Almond Joy bars. I love her recipes. They’re decadent:)

Ohhh this look yumiee… i will try it :slight_smile: