The Down Low on Net Carbs
Let me ask you a quick question; how do you calculate your net carbs? My guess is that, right now, you either googled what the hell a net carb is or started reciting some discombobulated formula – which you most likely found, via google – that makes no sense and, if I were to question you, would just become more confusing.
According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, net carbs are “the amount of carbohydrates in a product excluding fiber, or excluding both fiber and sugar alcohols.” Why are those two things excluded? Well, essentially fiber is part of plant foods that can’t be digested by the human body. Consequently, the body doesn’t process them and essentially just flushes them out instead of holding them in storage. Per the Joslin Diabetes Center, sugar alcohols come from some fruits and berries that have their carbohydrates altered through a natural chemical process. They appear in our foods with names like mannitol, xylitol, and isomalt. These sugar alcohols are not easily absorbed by our bodies and, consequently, may have a laxative effect.
So, how does that apply to Keto?
RuledMe claims that the ideal amount of carbohydrate consumption for ketosis is less than 35 grams of total carbs and 25 grams of net carbs. Martina Slajerova, the creator of the KetoDietApp.com and author on the blog, does clarify that tracking net carbs is an effective method for weight loss, while tracking total carbs is more suitable for managing diseases, like cancer or epilepsy.
Personally, I like having both listed on MyFitnessPal food diary. Ideally, I want to stay below 25 total carbs. However, say I decide to have a lot of broccoli in my meal plan for a week, then it’s nice to be able to compare. For example, next weeks meal plan contains spinach, artichokes, broccoli, and cauliflower. This resulted in my going above my total carbohydrate limit by 4 grams (so 29, which is still under 30 – not too shabby, if I do say so myself), but since most of those carbs are coming from foods that are full of fiber, my net carb intake was still 5 grams below my limit of 25 grams.
I guess, in a way, my net carb intake is kind of like a security blanket. I can use it to ensure that, although my total carb intake isn’t perfect, I’m not eating carbs that are bad for me – just ones that are rich in fiber.
Wait… Did you say Net Carbs on MyFitnessPal?
That I did say. You probably think I’m confused, since there is no option for Net Carb intake on the “Nutrients Tracked” drop down menu (Click “Food” -> “Settings”), but I’m not.
If you go to GitHub, there is a user script titled “mfp-keto-userscript”. In order to install it on Google Chrome, you will also need to install Tampermonkey (click here for a direct link to the Chrome Web Store). After that, all you have to do is install the user script and, suddenly, your food diary nutrient totals will become something even better. If you happen to not have Google Chrome, directions for other internet browsers can be found on the GitHub website.
Below, you can see how the screen will differ:
On an even more exciting note – at least with Google Chrome – you can try it and, if you don’t like it, turn it off. To do so, you must be on the MyFitnessPal page and click the Tampermonkey icon in the upper right hand corner, then click the switch to disable it.
Unfortunately, this user script is only available on the actual internet browsers and not in the app, itself. I do most of my meal planning on an actual computer, since it’s easier to import recipes and mess with macro totals.