How To Figure Out Net Carbs


When I decided to start eating low carb, I had no idea how to figure out net carbs. It’s actually super easy, so it didn’t take me long to pick up on it.

In this post I’ll show you how to calculate net carbs, and how to figure out net carbs on foods without labels such as fast food and fresh produce and others.

I admit, it was (or seemed) a bit confusing at first, because some things can seem very high carb (relatively speaking). Take almonds for example. If you didn’t know to subtract the fiber, they would seem higher carb than some other snacks.

I’ll start with an easy example…

Take the product to the left, Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter. With packaged products it’s generally easy because you can flip over and check out the nutrition facts right on the label.

For this product, the nutrition label is:

First, look at the Total Carbohydrates, which on this label is 6g.

That’s 6 grams of total carbs.

To get the net carbs, you subtract the Fiber – which on this label is 2g. That makes the peanut butter a total of 4 net carbs (6 minus 2) for a two tablespoon serving.

It’s easy math: total carbs minus fiber.

I honestly thought it was going to be complicated, especially when I realized I had to learn how to figure out net carbs – not just read the label and see how many carbs it has. But as you can see, it’s super simple – and now I do it in a flash, like second nature.

How to Figure Out Net Carbs on Foods Without Labels

For produce, or any other fresh food without a label, you can use the USDA National Nutrient Database. I haven’t found ALL online sources to be accurate, so this is a good resource to bookmark.

For example, I put in “strawberry” and chose the “fruit” group – and it told me that a strawberry is generally 1 net carb per berry (which is what I have found other places as well).

Next I tried “frozen chopped spinach” which I sometimes like in an omelet or something. Half a cup is about 1 net carb (again, subtracting the high amount of fiber from the total carbohydrates).

This is a handy search tool to keep. I often just Google “food nutrition facts” – replacing “food” with the actual food I am researching.

For restaurants, I search “restaurant nutrition facts”. I usually view these before I go out and make my meal choices ahead of time. I also look them up on my smart phone when I’m on the go and stop in somewhere. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can usually request a nutrition fact sheet at the restaurant – but not always. I recommend looking them up before you head out to make it easy. 😉

I also referred to the Atkins Acceptable Food List for Phase 1 of their eating plan quite a bit in the beginning. Not only did it give me the net carbs on specific vegetables and other foods, it gave me a lot of ideas on things I could eat – various types of meat & vegetables I hadn’t considered, etc.

So again, it’s just “Total Carbs minus Fiber = Net Carbs”. Easy!

About Lynn Terry

I love making the low carb diet EASY for people with a busy lifestyle (like me!) with my KISS / Keep It Simple method. :) About Lynn Terry: Host of the Low Carb Challenge
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81 Responses to How To Figure Out Net Carbs

  1. Traci Knoppe says:

    Hey Lynn
    I bought some Almond Butter – actually had lower net carbs than natural peanut butter! It’s GOOD!!

  2. Rhonda Page says:

    Hi Lynn, I love your new site. I lost 40 ponds eating low carb.” Carb Master” is a free app I use to check anything. The paid versuon has resturant food. You can also track carbs and build your own record. I’d love to know what you think! Rhonda

  3. Lisa Marie Mary says:

    One resource I rely on a lot for nutrition info is Dotti’s Weight Loss Zone. She lists a bunch of restaurants. And another one that I’m finding to be really good and have only recently discovered is

    You’ve really inspired me to steer clear of carbs as much as I can! The weird thing is, I’ve been back ‘on track’ at for a few weeks now. And when I get ‘back in the groove’, I actually find myself craving meats. Which is so odd for me, as I’m not really a big meat eater.

    Well, so that started happening to me, then you let us all know what you were up to, and so your new blog and my cravings are kind of reinforcing each other, you know?

    • Lynn Terry says:

      I’ve heard great things about SparkPeople. That was one of the things I looked into using before I started eating low carb – but I just couldn’t get self motivated (big confession lol).

      I was never a big meat eater either but am craving it more now too. Seems strange to me, but I don’t even crave the carbs I used to love anymore. I’m not even tempted to eat a blueberry muffin or something.

      Thanks for the links, Lisa – will check those out! 😉

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  5. Bo Johnson says:

    Love this new site!
    I’ve been needing to lose 40 lbs. for a couple of years now.
    I’ve been on the Atkins back when it was craze, and tried a few others.
    Like your lifestyle change perception; that’s the mindset I’m adopting now for permanent change.
    Thanks a bunch.
    You make wading through all the scammers worthwhile.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Thank you Bo & Welcome 😀

      I’m no good at diets, and the last thing I want to do is diet for awhile – lose the weight – then quit and gain it all back. Going low carb is an easy non-diet lifestyle change that is really working well!

      I am pleased, and still a little surprised, at how quickly I lose 20 pounds.

      Did you enjoy Atkins when you tried it? This is my first go at it, and while I’m not following a program per se, I am eating what would be considered “an atkins plan”.

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  11. Kari says:

    Just an FYI, the link above for Atkins Acceptable Food List is broken! Love this site by the way! 🙂

  12. Nicole says:

    Just curious, I never knew you subtracted the fiber, when I tried cutting carbs in the past, I just used the carb count in the label…why DO you subtract the fiber??

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Good question. The Atkins site will explain it best, but it has to do with how Fiber is digested (as a carb) vs other types of carbs. By counting net carbs you can eat more of the good foods (nuts, greens, etc) and still reach the ketosis state and lose weight very quickly.

  13. Marge Burkell says:

    Hi Lynn,
    I have a question I am hoping you can help me with since you are the low carb queen.

    I have an app for tracking carbs that a developer just submitted and after reading your site I asked him if the carbs in his app were “raw” carbs or net (minus the fiber grams).

    He said that all his info comes from the USDA site and says:
    “The USDA listing, which I used as the source for my app’s data, has in its title, “Carbohydrate, by difference ” … so it sounds like is may very well be NET carbs.”

    He then quoted the USDA site:

    “How is Carbohydrate, by difference determined?
    Carbohydrate is determined as the difference between 100 and the sum of the percentages of water, protein, total lipid (fat), ash, and, when present, alcohol. Total carbohydrate values include total dietary fiber.
    Total carbohydrate by difference = 100 – [water, protein, total lipid, ash and alcohol in g/100g]”

    To me this is Greek. So if he is taking his data straight from the USDA site is it or is it not NET carbs?

    I don’t want to steer my readers wrong, especially if they are thinking of using it with their low carb diet.
    I don’t like it when someone answers me “it may very well be.” He made the app, he should know!

    Thanks for your help. See why some reviews take so long? LOL
    Marge Burkell

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Since their total values INCLUDE fiber, it is NOT net carbs. You subtract the fiber from the total carbs to get the Net Carb value. You also subtract sugar alcohols if there are any. Hope that helps!

      I would be really interested in your review of the app – please send me a link when it’s live if you choose to review it! 😉

      • Cheryl says:

        OK i can’t stand the thought that i can not grasp counting… so is it… subtract the fiber from the total carb…then if there is the sugar alcohols subtract that…and after doing that what is left goes towards your 20 carb for the day???

        • Lynn Terry says:

          Hi Cheryl,

          It’s Total Carbs minus Fiber, yes. Total Carbs minus Fiber = Net Carbs. If there are sugar alcohols, subtract that number as well.

          What is left? Good carbs that come from high fiber vegetables, dairy, negligible carbs in things like eggs, etc.

  14. Thanks Lynn!
    I will certainly let you know when the review is written.
    I am branching out to include a number of carb-counting apps in the article.


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  17. Marge Burkell says:

    What’s your take on subtracting sugar alcohol Lynn?

    • Lynn Terry says:

      I do that – subtract sugar alcohol from the total carb count – and it has worked out just fine for me from the start. Obviously I keep those to a minimum though. They can do a real number on your tummy, and my current goal is to eat as “clean” (real food) as possible.

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  20. Evelyn Vollgraff says:

    Hi I am starting the July 16th challenge I have a lot of weight to lose but have been trying to do low carb for the past week. I cannot walk to far do to a back injury but found that bike riding is fine. Is this a good source of exercise right now I am riding about 1/2 hour a day around 2 miles. Also I am 65years old I am so excited to join will keep you posted as the journey begins.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Evelyn 😀 I have a lower back injury too so I understand. My issue is inflammatory arthritis due to an old injury, which causes my sciatic nerve to get pinched and binds me up from my shoulder down to my opposite foot. Miserable! Fortunately eating low carb naturally reduces inflammation so it dramatically reduces symptoms with arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. Meaning, I can now hike, hit the gym and water ski even! Eating low carb has amazing health benefits…

      That said, I think low impact workouts are ideal, and that’s what I did myself for a long time. And KUDOS for riding two miles a day – that’s awesome!!

      I look forward to following your journey throughout the challenge -and beyond. 😉 *cheers*

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  25. C. A Barrilleaux says:

    Hi Lynn I have a question about minus the fiber from the carb. When I found out I was diabetic 2 I had to go to a dietician my Dr made me so I would understand better. She said the fiber had to be 5 or more before you could minus from the carb. I looked it up & said the same about 5 or more . I do like your way a lot better. Help me out here please I LOVE LOVE your site. Thank You

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi C.A. – what kind of diet did your nutritionist or doctor put you on?

      There are many diabetics in the 90 Day Low Carb Challenge Group that are eating 20 net carbs a day going by this calculation. That said, some go by “Total Carbs” and don’t subtract fiber at all. The key is to eat very low carb and get plenty of healthy fats.

  26. C. A Barrilleaux says:


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  30. isabel says:

    Greetings! If a label contains insoluble and soluble fiber, how would you calculate net carbs?

    • Lynn Terry says:

      I am not 100% sure, but I think you only subtract insoluble fiber. I haven’t run into those labels myself. But I read that on two different dietitian’s websites.

  31. Dianna says:

    Hi Lynn!
    I’m sure this won’t be the first of stupid questions from me, but, when figuring out net carbs, say if protein is 6 per serving and carbs is 1. Well is that no net carbs and 5 grams of protein? Lol oh dear it’s gonna be a long 3 months! Haha. Also do I need an app or can we do it by our.own selves? Cheers!

  32. Gayle says:

    Hi Lynn
    I’m still trying to stay on track.
    Losing weight is a hard job. I have always had a weight problem. But it was more than ten years ago I found out my thyroid didn’t function. Now I’m on medication. I also have fibromyalgia and Barrett’s of the esophagus. My doctor told me I needed to get weight off. It would help it. So this my goal to help me feel better and help my health problems too. I am so glade I have met you because you have inspired me because of all that you have been through.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Gayle,

      I’m so glad to hear that. 🙂 You’ll find that eating a healthy low carb ketogenic diet helps A LOT with fibromyalgia by the way. Many of us have all but cured our chronic pain eating this way. 🙂 You can do this!! I’m so glad you’re making a true effort. It IS hard. It’s hard for me too. But it’s SO worth it! 🙂

  33. shannon says:

    In our group at body 4 believers we subtract any fiber and sugar…but not sugar alcohols

    • shannon says:

      This gives us impact carbs…which affects our blood sugar.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Shannon,

      Sugar is carbs, so you can’t subtract sugar from total carbs. Only fiber. Sugar Alcohol is optional. I do subtract sugar alcohols because it works for me and doesn’t stall my weight loss (I have them in extreme moderation though).

  34. Cynthia says:

    My problem is that I need to gain weight but since I have cancer it is a challenge. Sugar feeds the cancer cells, so I am counting net carbs since carbs turn to sugar. My nutritionist said to definitely minus the sugar alcohols as well as the fiber. It is a difficult journey for those who want to lose weight, and for those who need to gain and are restricted from eating foods that can actually bulk you up – it can be discouraging. I just thank God for each day.

  35. Nate says:

    Hi Lynn

    So I would like to know if you have a complete list of low crabs from breakfast, lunch, dinner and even the last resort dessert. I know there’s book but some are way to complicate.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Nate 🙂

      I am actually working on that, a complete guide of all my favorite low carb meals – easy meals I make, my favorite snacks, grocery lists, and my favorite low carb restaurant & fast food meals (and how to order them).

      It will include fully illustrated directions and photos, along with printable versions. The project has been a HUGE undertaking lol, but it should be ready soon! 🙂 Make sure you’re signed up by email to get notified when it’s available to download!

      • Teresa Buchanan says:

        Hello Lynn, I’m a new one on here & I’m so excited to see where this is going to take me, I will be 53 in 3 months & I’m so tired of being over weight at about (lbs 200) the most I’ve ever weighed, I’m single & all my kids are grown & on their own . I get lonely & depressed at times all I want to do is eat .but anyway I really want to work at this I know I would feel GREAT .My question is do I look at the labels to check for carb count & fiber then subtract fiber from carbs

        • Lynn Terry says:

          Hi Teresa & welcome 🙂

          Right, it’s total carbs minus fiber = Net Carbs. It’s really easy once you get the hang of it!

          I use MyFitnessPal to track and do 20 net carbs max and 70% fat minimum. If you have any questions let me know!

          You will be SO glad you did this for yourself. 🙂 I have discovered there are much more FUN things to do than eat – since finally getting over that as a means of fulfillment or “entertainment” (I used to eat for the same reason). Life becomes FUN!

  36. Vikki Adair says:

    Can’t wait for your download/printable guide!

  37. KELLY says:

    Hi Lynn,
    Im just going to start my low carb journey. I did it years ago and it worked for me then. Im 58 and would love to lose a good 20 or more pounds.
    I find my problem is I like to have a few drinks, a glass or two of wine or a couple beer now and then when out with my thin friends. Any suggestions?
    Also thanks for getting me going.
    I’ll keep you posted.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Kelly 🙂 I don’t drink often but I do enjoy social drinks now and then! My favorite beer is Michelob Ultra (2.6 carbs per 12 ounce bottle). And I like rum & diet coke – zero carbs.

      The only thing to consider is the “alcohol stall” effect. That’s because your body has to metabolize alcohol FIRST (before any food) and it takes longer to metabolize alcohol – so just don’t weigh yourself daily for a few days after a fun night. 😉 *cheers*

  38. Sharon says:

    I love this site, so informational. But where can I buy Almond flour and Almond butter? I’ve never tried them before.

  39. colleen says:

    I went on Jorge belly fat guy and I was not counting as net carbs he gave me an example for carbs equal 0 5 – 20 equal one 20 – 40 equal to carbs but I’m not losing any weight so I wasn’t doing the net carbs I’ve learned a lot can’t wait for your site

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Colleen,

      That seems really confusing… ? I just do 20 net carbs a day, 70% fat. And for net carbs, it’s just simple: total carbs minus fiber.

  40. Natalie says:

    So let me ask this silly question. Do I count calories? I apologize I have been wired differently.

  41. Karen says:

    I love the Atkins shakes for lunch & Atkins bars for a snack cause they have only 2-4 net carbs each. Do you find these acceptable? I’ve been on a low carb diet for a month & have lost 14lbs

  42. Laurie says:

    Don’t forget to subtract sugar alcohols with certain foods that have artificial sweeteners that are low on the glycemic scale.


    Someone told me that you can also subtract the erythritol grams(IN ADDITON TO FIBER) from your carb number for a truer net carb count. I can’t find anything that backs that up. You thoughts…

  44. Carla Thode says:

    What is the percentage of 20 grams of carbs? My Fitbit only shows percentage.
    Thank you for your help

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