Net Carbs: Everything You Need to Know

Article posted in: South Beach Diet
net carbs

The South Beach Diet is a low-carb meal plan with a simple weight loss premise: Retrain the body to use fat (not carbs) as fuel and see weight loss results. The plan is also a low-carb approach that uses the same fat-for-fuel dieting method. But the difference between the two meal plans comes down to something called net carbs. This is the total grams of carbohydrates minus grams of dietary fiber and grams of erythritol (a type of sugar alcohol).

Net carbs still sound confusing? Let us explain:

Net carbs (also known as digestible carbs) are broken down into simple sugars and absorbed into the blood stream, according Healthline. Fiber and erythritol are processed differently, though, so when calculating net carbs, we subtract those numbers out to get a better idea of what the body typically absorbs. Here’s an example: Half of a medium avocado contains 8 grams of carbohydrates. When we subtract the dietary fiber (6 grams), we get the net carbs: 2.

To save you some time, we went ahead and created a Grocery Guide > that provides these details for some of the most popular items. Keep it handy!

The South Beach Diet meal plan delivers about 50 grams of net carbs per day. It’s not super strict, so it’s easy to stick to the plan in the long-term.


Here are some additional things to note when following our plan:

  • Meats, fish, and some cheeses contain zero net carbs. Virtually, all other foods—including many non-starchy veggies—have some net carbs. Try to limit your intake to three servings of non-starchy vegetables a day. To note: Three servings of non-starchy veggies is equivalent to 3 cups.
  • net carbsBecause most fruit contains high amounts of sugar (carbs!), fruits are extremely limited on our plan. For example, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), just 3/4 cup of grapes contains 23 grams of carbs. One medium-size banana: 30 grams.
  • Your goal, on the South Beach Diet, is to keep your body’s carb intake at a healthy minimum, which means all carbs—even good carbs like beans, legumes and whole grains—should be limited.

To help you keep a handle on how many carbs to eat and when, here’s how you might structure your day:

  • Breakfast: ≤11 grams net carbs
  • Lunch: ≤12 grams net carbs
  • Dinner: ≤12 grams net carbs
  • ketoSnacks and Shakes: ≤5 grams net carbs

Stock up on meats, cheese, non-starchy vegetables, fish, nuts and eggs. “There are a lot of great pantry foods that can help to add flavor and spice to your meals, side dishes and snacks and still be low-carb,” says Registered Dietitian Courtney McCormick. “I recommend mustard (most do not contain carbs, except avoid honey mustard), mayonnaise made from olive or avocado oil, unsweetened nut and seed butters and spice blends.”