This question must be asked 100 times a day.
The answer is yes you can do net carbs or total carbs. How is that for clear?
The question is what do I advocate and why?
The true ketogenic diet and the one I adhere to is 20g TOTAL carbs or less, adequate protein to maintain lean mass and a 3:1 to 4:1 fat to protein ratio. This is the original/traditional ketogenic diet and the one that I follow. That is what I advocate.
So can you do net carbs? Sure, you can do Atkins or LCHF if you wish. That is where the idea of net carbs came in. Not with a ketogenic diet. Will this work for you? Yes and No. Some people can get away with eating 100g of carbs a day and still maintain a very mild level of ketosis. The better question than can you get away with it is: Is it optimal for weight loss?
What are the things that people remove for net carbs:
sugar alcohol – Known to spike insulin and most have an actual effect on blood sugar and they make you have disaster pants most of the time. Not great.
Fiber – Fiber is a contentious item. Lets look at in greater depth.
Is fiber essential? For something in nutrition to be deemed essential it has to have a clear and definable disease of deficiency associated with it. It also must be present in the body for the body to continue to live. There are many essential vitamins and minerals but fiber is not one of them. You can live and thrive without fiber and in fact many people have serious adverse reactions from eating fiber such as those with inflammatory bowel issues. I have thrived for 13 years with minimal to no fiber. In fact I have adverse reactions to fiber and become very irregular when I eat it.
No, Fiber is not essential.
Is fiber nutritious? Well since it does not actually get digested and it actually binds to many vitamins and minerals which limits or blocks their absorption, no it is not inherently nutritious. Some of the vitamins and minerals it blocks are Vitamin A, D, E, K, iron, zinc, and copper. All of these are vital and eating fiber increases the dietary need for them. Considering a large percentage of the population are deficient in most of these nutrients, I can’t see the logic in adding more fiber to further reduce the amount that we absorb.
What about our gut bacteria that feeds on the fiber? There has been some flimsy research about the fiber feeding the gut microbiome and these bacteria make some of the vitamins that the fiber blocks so it works out in the end. Well why try to feed bacteria to gain back some of the nutrients that the fiber blocks when you can just not eat the fiber in the first place and absorb the nutrients as they are coming in the food. Seems over complicated to me. Why try to colonize your gut with bugs to make something because what you are feeding them blocks the nutrients in the first place? I have enough to worry about trying to figure out how to nourish myself let alone worrying about what my gut bugs want to eat. I have not fed my gut microbiome any fiber in 13 years and I have no problems with nutrients or bowel issues. I also have no troubles maintaining a lean physique while eating all the food I could ever want.
Does fiber have an insulin response? – I work with type 1 diabetics from time to time. I’ve asked them many questions. One of which is, do you have to consider fiber when you dose insulin. The answer to this question was obvious to me. Unless you are eating glass marbles, nothing is free. Every degradable item you put in your mouth has a metabolic consequence. When a type 1 diabetic eats fiber you better believe they have to account for it. They have to account for protein and fiber and every other bit of food they put in their mouth. If they need to consider fiber when dosing insulin why would we think that it is free for us? If they have to dose themselves with insulin for fiber, our body is 100% dosing us with insulin when we eat it.
The reason people think that fiber is free is because of misinterpretation of data from studies.
Studies have long shown that fiber has a controlling effect on blood sugar levels. Because they are not seeing a rise in blood sugar when eating fiber or even when combining fiber with foods that normally raise blood sugar they are seeing less of a rise, they assume it is because fiber has some magic effect on insulin and it doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin. That is just not looking at the whole picture.
The entire reason that fiber has this effect on blood glucose is not because it doesn’t effect insulin or makes us better at managing glucose. It is simply that the fiber binds up the food in the stomach and slows gastric empyting (digestion). When food leaves the stomach slower, of course blood sugar rises slower. It still rises. Just slower and more drawn out. You are not eliminating insulin response, you are just dragging it out.
This is absolutely beneficial for managing blood glucose levels if that is your only goal but that is not our goal. That is the goal of the conventional wisdom that is trying to figure out a way to still eat the carbs while not jacking blood sugar through the roof. That is looking at one small part of the whole puzzle and not addressing the underlying issue. Our goal is to keep insulin as low as possible for as long as possible. That is how weight is controlled. So just making the process longer and more drawn out is not doing you any favors and is very short sighted. Just like calling type 2 diabetes a progressive disease that can’t be reversed so “Here, eat your carbs but have some fiber and some insulin with it.”
So in Short, yes you can do net carbs if you want. Is it what I advocate? No. Is it keto? No. It is LCHF or Atkins. If you want to do LCHF or Atkins it can certainly work fine for many people. It isn’t ideal or optimal and it isn’t what I advocate. I hope this article helps clear up the how and why of my logic.
If you want to get your Ketogenic Diet back to a place of Common Sense and learn how to heal your metabolism you can get personalized coaching from Coach Jack.
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