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Atkins Diet - What is a Net Carb?

written by: Summer Banks • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 7/2/2009

For effective weight loss, there are certain factors that should be considered. One of the most important factors is the type and amount of food being consumed. After several studies, research has shown that carbohydrates play a significant role in weight gain.

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    The Net Carb

    A net carb is the amount of carbohydrates present in a diet after the fiber, polydextrose, glycerin and sugar alcohol have been subtracted from it. The Atkins diet advocates the use of net carbs over a carb diet citing its overall weight loss benefits. This is because not all carbohydrates affect the body the same way. A net carb diet allows the dieter to enjoy carbohydrate meals without getting the bulking disadvantages of a carbohydrate meal.

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    The Low Net Carb Diet and Your Body

    A low net carb restricts the overall consumption of carbohydrates usually for purpose of weight control. High carbohydrate foods are replaced with proteins or vegetables. Because it would be impossible to get rid of all carbohydrates in the dieter’s diet, such meals are well known as low-carb diets. The overall purpose of this diet is to reduce insulin production, while increasing the presence of ketosis, which produces energy in the body.

    Atkins diet recommends a dieter to eat less bread, potatoes and other starchy foods in order to avoid weight gain and promote weight loss. Low calorie diets, on the other hand, do not have specific carbohydrate recommendations and work on the assumption that all carbohydrates have the same effect on the body. This however has been disputed over time and the net carb diet thrives on the fact that carbohydrates have different effects on the body.

    A low-carb diet prompts the pancreas to release glucagons- a chemical that converts stored fat into energy via ketosis, which provides the body cells with energy. This diet discourages insulin production whose high levels in the body can cause health problems and food cravings. Dieters on a net carb diet can consume fat without worrying about the consequences. A fat diet only affects the body negatively in the presence of high levels of insulin or high levels of carbohydrates. The Atkins diet states that excess ketones are excreted by breathing or through urine.

    The low carb diet is centered on the net carbohydrate. The more fiber in the food, the less the net carbs and the less effect the food will have on glucose and insulin balance in the body. For instance, a food with two total grams of carbohydrates and three grams of fiber will have a net carb effect of two grams.