Net Carbs vs Total Carbs, A Poll


I’m just curious about what everyone counts.
Also, comment on what you’ve found your magic number to be. I’m scared to mess with the “under 20” as I’ve only been at it for 2 months and am just getting into the groove. Again, just curious.

  • Net Carbs
  • Total Carbs

0 voters


I kind of miss “I don’t count either”… But it’s probably for people who actually track or not but care about one or the other. I actually only care about non-animal net carbs :slight_smile: My animal carbs seem to be irrelevant (on the fence regarding lactose but very sure about my statement if it’s a different kind of animal sugar).

But I am still firmly in the net carbs camp so voting was easy.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #3

The lower you keep your carb intake during the beginning, the sooner you will start metabolic healing. If you decide to experiment later, that’s fine, but get used to eating as low-carb as possible, first.

Dr. Eric Westman, by the way, tells the patients at his obesity clinic to count total carbs. He calls this the “prescription strength” approach. It’s simpler for the patients and removes some of the ambiguity. He also cites recent research suggesting that fibre isn’t so indigestible as has hitherto been believed.


I’m around 3 months in and track net. I aim to stay below 20, and it seems to be doing its thing so all is well : )

(Allie) #5

I count nothing, used to count net carbs but don’t need to anymore.

(Eric) #6

I have done net carbs since I started and usually try for 20g or less. That said, I am mostly in maintenance these days and find I can get away with more a couple of days of week but more than that and I might see a little creep that is mostly water weight. Some people go strictly by total carbs but I do better with more fiber and have not had any issues with this approach. Each person is different and some people do not do well with fiber. Also, for most of the world, the carbs on the label is already net with the fiber, sugar alcohols, allulose removed. I believe it is mainly the US that has total carbs on the label and you have to figure out net.

(Joey) #7



Same here… But as noted above, getting started it’s important to fully understand which foods have what carb content… because we are rarely aware of such info before we try to restrict our carb intake. It’s eye-opening :flushed: to track such things and maintain a minimal intake (e.g., 20g/day).

Although I tracked every bite for about a year and counted carbs carefully to better understand what foods actually contained, currently I don’t bother tracking anymore since I now know what I now know.

But prior to gaining that knowledge, I tracked net carbs. My understanding is that gross carbs are more relevant for a Type 1 diabetic, but I could be mistaken.


Yes, I couldn’t avoid tracking either. But I did vegetarian keto, I ate so much carbs and I couldn’t avoid it.
If someone manages to jump right to carnivore (or somewhat close), tracking may be avoided. Or if someone eats similarly every day, once they count, oh it’s only 15g, it’s safe… Surely such people exist :slight_smile:

I did low-carb before keto and didn’t need tracking at all. I skipped most high-carb items, tracked a few days to see how much I eat and just automatically ate somewhat similarly. That was a way higher carb intake though. It somehow suited me and it was super easy, way easier and better than doing high-carb.
I actually had to plan and put effort into keto and I ate 40-45g net and unlimited total! (80-100g total surely happened, I had to half-live on sweets to keep my carbs that low.) Tracking was a must. Not just to ensure I won’t go over my limit but to ensure I won’t go much lower either… If I could use 40g net carbs, I wanted to use it (nearly) all… I ate less than minimal vegetables already, it wasn’t sustainable for me. But I got my fat adaptation so it was a tiny win. Too bad I needed to go lower but eventually that happened too.
After fat adaptation I didn’t care about ketosis much. I felt the same in and out and out was easier and no tracking was needed. But I still always came back, something told me it’s the way forward I suppose… And indeed, it was. Trying out carnivore was a surprise though, what am I doing, I asked, it’s surreal :smiley:
Gut feelings can be super good guides.

I have been tracking since several days. I am just as clueless as ever. Without tracking I have almost no idea about my macros. If I do carnivore or very, very close, I know if I eat low enough carbs (unless I overdo certain dairy) but that’s it. I can’t tell if I ate 1500 or 2500 kcal, protein is way better as it tends to stay in a smallish range unless I eat very much food… Fat is a more or less mystery even with the most careful tracking though. No one can tell me how fatty is my meat, even I can’t tell when I taste it as different cuts have different feeling that confuses me. And I would like to know all my macros. Even carbs but they are the least important of them as they are low enough anyway.

(Laurie) #9

I don’t eat much plant matter. But if I’m buying, say, tomato sauce, I look at the net carbs.


It’s the veggies that get me. I love cucumbers, avocados, tomatoes, asparagus, you get the idea. I stay around 12-15 net per day and I’m happy with that. I was counting total carbs for the first week. But for me, I don’t think it’s sustainable long term. I need my avocados :grin:.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #11

Just so you know, there is no known carbohydrate deficiency disease. It is perfectly possible to remain healthy while eating a diet of nothing but meat. The two most famous examples were The Bear Owsley and the noted Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, both of whom lived for decades on a meat-only diet. The Bear died of a car crash, so no telling how long he would have lasted, but Steffansson died in his sleep at age 82.


I feel the same about avocado so I have a small one daily. I track total carbs at 15g per day but I don’t count carbs in avocado or eggs. I rarely get to 10gm total.


Thanks, @PaulL! Since joining this forum a couple months ago I have been learning more about the carnivore diet. Very interesting!

I didn’t mean to imply it’s not sustainable health-wise. I just really enjoy fresh vegetables grown in my garden and am not willing to deprive myself of that joy. I don’t NEED them, I just want them and an not willing to give them up at this point. I’ve changed my eating habits substantially in the past few months and am confident I can stick with it. I personally don’t know that I could go full carnivore, long term without crashing back into my old ways.


And it’s perfectly impossible for many of us to eat nothing but meat.
But it’s good to know that meat is complete, it makes life so much easier. It still doesn’t necessarily give us all the needed nutrients, it’s very possible to have a tiny energy need or eating super fatty meat…? But normally it should work as far as I know.
It’s important to remember that we are different. Just because someone eating only meat (lots of it) are okay, another person eating only a little meat (as they can’t use up much energy) and having certain conditions may have problems.
(Hey I never thought about these… But I knew writing helps with thinking…)

Oh I had times when I NEEDED fruit every day. I actually stopped functioning properly with zero. So our body (and possibly mind) have some strange things.
I changed ages ago, now I don’t need any fruit ever. I still eat them but it has nothing to do with needs or health or nutrients.
I see exactly zero point in… I wanted to write to do pure carnivore very long term but let’s say not eating whatever I fancy :slight_smile: But I consider it important to want what is good for me but me being a hedonist brings me about halfway to that… If something is bad for me, it’s quite hard to want it, it’s not hedonistic. But there is a grey area and amounts… So training it is. But I won’t give up anything not outrageously bad, only temporarily for an experiment or something. I may not eat it for 20 years or ever but I don’t give most things up.

But staying close to carnivore with almost pure longer times in winter? Sounds perfect to me, for me.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #15

That is always the question, isn’t it? A lot of prominent carnivores (Kelly Hogan, Georgia Ede, and Amber O’Hearn come to mind) were more or less forced into carnivore by health problems that were otherwise intractable. And that is a powerful motivation.

But many carnivores have found that their desire for carbohydrate wanes considerably after time on the diet. And I can testify as a ketonian that sweets have lost their appeal, and this is coming from someone whose carb of choice used to be glazed doughnuts. I still crave bread products, but a lot of the sweets I used to love are now icky. And I quite enjoy the taste of unsweetened chocolate, which used to be far too bitter to be edible by itself. So tastes can change.


Absolutely! My daughter gave me a bite of her ice cream the other day and I almost gagged at how sweet it was. It made my mouth water, in a bad way. And yesterday I had a couple of strawberries that were almost too sweet (I actually used to dip them in sugar! :nauseated_face:). And as I said, this is only 2 months in. I’m excited to see what 4 months, 6 months, a year or 2 years bring!

(Steve Perry) #17

Around 50 net per day

(Laurie) #18

Under 20, net.


Yes, here in the UK and I think most of Europe, food labels show carbohydrate total, sugars and fibre. In the US, fibre is included in the total carbohydrate figure. In the UK/Eu it isn’t.

PS despite the forum showing this is my first post, it’s not: ref Gaz and Gaz2 as earlier incarnations. There’s a glitch in the “matrix” and my account keeps getting deleted along with previous posts. @PaulL is looking into it :laughing:


counted only total carbs ever. had to be under 10g total carbs to function best. now 0 plant carbs, carnivore lifestyle.