Learn About Net Carbs

Learn About Net Carbs

A Guide to Net Carbs and the Keto Diet

Low-carb diets have had their share of the spotlight for decades. Some have fallen in and out of favor (and back in vogue) with dieters the world over. The most famous weight loss trend in the 70s and 80s was the Atkins diet, named after its inventor, Robert C. Atkins. Then came South Beach, Paleo, the list goes on.

For the last five years, the Keto or ketogenic diet has become one of the most popular health trends around, quickly gaining fans and devoted followers. After all, it's hard to argue with keto weight loss success stories and health benefits that extend beyond fat burning.

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the Keto diet, how it stacks up against other low-carb diets, what its benefits are, how to calculate your daily net carbs, and which keto-friendly foods you can enjoy without the guilt.

Keto vs. Atkins diet

The keto diet shares a few commonalities with its 80s predecessor, the Atkins: both encourage dieters to limit carbohydrates, both aid in weight loss, and both help your body reach a state called ketosis (we’ll get to that later). The main difference is, the Atkins diet gradually increases carbohydrates intake over time to allow your body to adjust gradually to additional carbs, whereas the keto diet keeps carb limits low—very low

With the Atkins diet, phase 1 starts with 20 to 25 grams of net carbs per day until you lose 15 pounds from your goal weight. In phase 2, your net carbs per day gradually increases to 25 to 50 grams of net carbs per day. And finally, at 50 to 80 grams net carbs per day until you reach your goal weight and maintain it for one month. 

The main reason why the keto diet keeps your net carbs low, under 50 grams per day, is for your body to remain in a state of ketosis and continue to burn ketones for energy - an essential aspect of the ketogenic diet. 

Keto vs. typical low-carb diet

Low carb diets can vary greatly depending on your goals. If your goal is to maintain your current weight, stick to a daily carb limit range of 100 to 150 grams. For slow and steady weight loss, limit carbs between 50 to 100 grams per day. And for fast weight loss, keep daily carb limits under 50 grams.





Focused on achieving ketosis to burn fat for fuel throughout the entire plan. The result is fast weight loss.

Focused on losing weight for a limited amount of time. Fast weight loss during Phase I and then steady gradual weight loss as the diet progresses.

Weight loss varies depending on goals and carb limits.


Has the lowest carb intake of the three at under 50 grams of net carbs. This is done to keep the body in ketosis.

Starts out with a low carb limit at 20 - 25 grams for Phase 1. Carbs are reintroduced as the diet progresses.

Higher amount of carbs (between 50 - 100 grams) compared to keto or Atkins. Carb limits depend on weight loss goals.


Makes up for 70 - 80% of your calories

Higher in fat than standard weight loss diets

Moderate fat intake (40% of your calories)


25% protein

25% protein in phase 1 only

40% protein


Typically higher in fiber

Lower in fiber

Favors more high fiber, satiating foods

All about keto

Living the keto lifestyle requires drastic changes to your diet. From here on out, your focus should be on your net carbs, not total carbs. Too many carbs can prevent your body from going into the fat-burning ketosis state.

The keto diet is mainly a high-fat, moderate-protein, and (very) low-carbohydrates plan. 

Dietary macronutrients are divided into 50% to 60% fat, 30% to 35% protein, and 5% to 10% carbohydrates. In a way, it’s essentially an extreme version of both the Atkins and standard low-carb diet. 

But what about fiber, you ask? 

Well, while fiber is a type of carbohydrate, it's one that your body can't digest. That's why fiber doesn't count toward the amount of carbs it takes to keep your body in ketosis. So, if you want to stay in fat-burning mode, you need to keep track of net carbs—not total carbs.

For someone with a typical 2,000-calorie per day diet, that would mean limiting yourself to just 20 to 50 grams of net carbs per day.

It may not seem like such a big deal until you consider that the average American consumes 50% of their daily calories from carbs—that’s 250 grams of carbs per day (1 gram of carbohydrates has four calories). 

While on keto, you’re limiting your carb intake to just 8% to 20% of what you would typically consume in a day. This number is essential to trigger your body into a state of ketosis.

What is Ketosis?

All that high-fat and moderate-protein consumption and carb-counting leads to one goal—for your body to reach nutritional ketosis. This is a state when your body produces ketones, a chemical produced by the liver when your body's insulin levels dip, and it doesn't have enough insulin to turn sugar (glucose) into energy. It forces your body to turn to another source, stored fat, as it's fuel. Instead of running on carbs, your brain starts to rely on ketones. The result is rapid weight loss and a few other health benefits (we'll get to later). 

Carb limits, total carbs, and net carbs - What’s it all about? 

Understanding carb limits, specifically total carbs and net carbs are a vital part of the plan.

Carb limits (i.e., how many grams of carbs you're allowed daily) vary from person to person. There's no magic number that works for everyone. Every person has a carb limit number that depends on many factors, including age, body type, level of activity, etc. 

Net carbs refer to carbohydrates that are used and absorbed by the body. They're the grams of carbohydrates that crucially impact your blood sugar level. So to trigger ketosis and keep your body in this fat-burning mode, you have to keep track of net carbs, not total carbs.

To calculate the keto net carbs of whole foods, subtract the grams of fiber from the total number of carbs. For the keto net carbs of processed foods, deduct the fiber and a portion of the sugar alcohols from the total carb count. Sugar alcohols are a type of sweet carbohydrates like Erythritol, Xylitol, and Sorbitol. Nutritional labels will often already include sugar alcohols in the total carbohydrates count.  

How to Calculate Net Carbs

Whole Foods 

Total carbs

- Grams of fiber 

= Net carbs

Processed Foods

Total number of carbs

- Grams of fiber

- Portion of sugar alcohols

= Net carbs

While it may be tricky to calculate your exact carb limit number, most people can reach ketosis by limiting to 25 grams of net carbs per day.

Benefits of the keto diet

Besides rapid weight loss, a significant benefit of extreme carb-limiting is that blood sugar levels don't spike and remain stable after a meal, which results in lower insulin levels. Insulin is one hormone that causes you to gain weight. 

When you limit your net carbs and go into a state of ketosis, you restrict blood sugar and insulin levels. You'll start to burn fat more efficiently. Soon, you’ll notice higher energy levels because your body is no longer having to adapt to a blood sugar rollercoaster. 

You may also experience better performance, focus, and limit inflammation too. In one study published in Psychopharmacology, higher ketone levels were linked to better cognitive functioning in older adults.

Low carb diets have also been shown to reduce ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger, so you'll feel fuller for longer. 

So, just how effective is the keto diet? Do keto dieters lose more weight than those on a different plan?

A 2013 meta-analysis of 13 different randomized controlled trials found that dieters who followed the keto diet lost 2 pounds more than those following low-fat diets for over one year.

A similar review of 11 studies in 2016 found that people on the keto diet lost 5 pounds more after six months than those following a low-fat diet for the same amount of time.

Other benefits include improved heart health, improvement of PCOS symptoms, and brain function protection.

Keto friendly foods

Dieters mostly consume low carb foods like fatty meats, oils, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, high-fat dairy, and certain low carb fruits like avocados. Many avoid regular sweeteners and opt for stevia and erythritol as sugar substitutes instead.

But the first thing most people cut out from their diet when they go on a ketogenic plan, or another low carb diet, is bread. It's just too carby and too heavy. Not to mention that the average slice of white bread has 5.7 grams of net carbs per slice and 1.1 grams of protein, while whole wheat bread has 9.6 net carbs per slice and 4 grams of protein.

Don’t you just wish you could have delicious bread without the carb guilt?

Just because you're carb-cutting doesn't mean you have to give up the joys of bread. With Carbonaut, we’re expanding the low carb universe!

Our crunchy yet moist artisanal Carbonaut white low carb bread has only 2 grams of net carbs per slice and 7 grams of protein, while our seeded keto friendly bread has 2 grams of net carbs per slice and 6 grams of protein.

Here at The Oven Door, we bring you freshly-baked, tastes-like-it-just-came-out-of-the-oven goodness minus the guilt!