KANSAS CITY – The term net carbs has become a versatile promotional tool, a claim that may appeal to consumers seeking keto-friendly products and consumers just wanting to reduce their carbohydrate intake. Diabetics and other consumers watching their blood sugar are potential customers, too. Food companies may take advantage of the trend by using certain ingredients, notably fiber and sweeteners, that allow them to reduce the number of net carbs in their products.
No federal definition exists for net carbs.
“Net carbs are the total amount of digestible carbohydrates in a food product or meal,” said Lindsey Morgan, senior director of product marketing, in giving out the definition used by Ardent Mills, Denver. “We calculate net carbs as total digestible carbohydrates minus total dietary fibers. The key difference between total carbs and net carbs is that total carbs include all the different types of carb in a food or meal. Net carbs, on the other hand, only include carbs that the body can fully digest into glucose for energy.”
Brook Carson, vice president of research and development at Manildra Group USA, Leawood, Kan., said, “Net carbs are the carbohydrates in food that you can digest and use for energy.”
CONNECTING WITH KETO
The keto diet originated as a way to treat epilepsy. No mention of net carbs was made back then, but many promotions for “keto-friendly” products mention net carbs today.
“Different versions of the keto diet have been around since as early as 500 BC, when it was recorded in the Hippocratic Collection to help treat epilepsy,” said Tanya Jeradechachai, vice president of ingredient solutions R&D for MGP Ingredients, Atchison, Kan. “The rise of the ketogenic diet and keto-friendly products is not due to medical use but as a tool to achieve weight loss goals. In social media conversations, weight loss is the top health issue and drives the demand for these products. Consumers also associate keto-friendly products as a healthier option, and some are simply experimenting with a new diet trend or use low net carb products to help manage blood insulin and glucose levels.”
Allied Market Research, Portland, Ore., said the…