We’ve all seen it on food labels: “Only 2 net carbs” or “Low net carbs.” But what does this truly mean? What are net carbs, and why does it matter? Are all net carbs created equal, or are we stretching those claims a bit too much? After reading through this article, I think you will agree that there is a pressing need to educate on the precise definition of net carbs, and what exactly constitutes a true fiber.
A close relative of maltose is a molecule known as isomaltose (typically found in items such as beer and honey). The biggest difference between maltose and isomaltose is that isomaltose is joined together by an α-1,6 chemical bond, rather than an α-1,4 chemical bond. Scientists suspected that by adding a certain enzyme (transglucosidase) to high maltose syrup, they could change the bonds from α-1,4 to α-1,6, thereby making it more resistant to being broken down by the enzymes, as described above, when compared to maltose. Again, while this sounds excellent in theory, it is not necessarily what happens in our bodies. In fact, isomaltose (and thus, IMO syrups used in some of these products) is broken down by certain enzymes on the brush border of the small intestine.[2] Though the α-1,6 bond breaks down slower compared to the α-1,4 bond, these IMO syrups, which often use a blend of di-and oligosaccharides, ultimately metabolize into small amounts of glucose and maltose[2] and thus should be viewed as a slow digesting carbohydrate rather than a true fiber.
Nutrition DataMacros are provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is calculated using MyFitnessPal.com. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
One of the most common disaccharides (two monosaccharides joined together) is maltose. Maltose is generated when two glucose molecules are linked to one another by an α-1,4 chemical bond (1st carbon is bound to the 4th carbon, making it easily digestible). The type of bond involved in saccharide linkage is critical, as it determines its ability to become hydrolyzed by the enzymes we described above. As such, the α-1,4 chemical bond, as listed in the above example (maltose), has the ability to become hydrolyzed (broken down).
If you can, try to stay at a hotel or hostel that has a kitchen which guests are allowed to use. You can also elect to find home-share style lodgings, as people often rent out their homes during peak vacation times for tourists to use. Once you have a kitchen, you have control over what you purchase and what you eat. An added benefit of this style of travel, other than the fact that you can stick to your Keto Diet effectively, is that you get to experience the local side of life. Going to grocery stores, choosing from local ingredients, and cooking for yourself will help make you feel like you’re a part of the culture, instead of only a visitor.
Lastly, one of the advertised benefits of IMO is possible prebiotic activity. Prebiotics are critical, as they feed the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system, specifically in the large intestine. These bacteria have several amazing functions, such as lowering body fat, improving insulin sensitivity, and lowering depression. Two “gold standard” prebiotics in the industry are inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Inulin and FOS are non-digestible carbohydrates that robustly increase beneficial bacteria. The challenge, however, is that both inulin and FOS, due to their rapid digestibility by intestinal bacteria, result in low gastric tolerance, and, ultimately, gastric distress. Additionally, inulin and FOS, when added to protein bars or other goods, may degrade over time into individual sugar units. Regardless, one study comparing inulin to IMOs, found that the prebiotic activity in inulin is 14 times greater than that of IMOs.[4] This is logical because, as you recall from above, approximately 70% to 90% of IMOs are digested. As such, only a small portion of these prebiotic fibers make it to the large intestine, in which two out of three studies have demonstrated that this small portion may indeed have some prebiotic effects. 

Dr. Ryan P. Lowery is the CEO of Ketogenic.com, author of The Ketogenic Bible, President of the Applied Science and Performance Institute and KetoPhD™. His mission  is to spread awareness around the Ketogenic Lifestyle and its’ many benefits beyond body composition. He earned his BS and MS in exercise physiology and exercise and nutrition science from the University of Tampa and completed his doctorate work at Concordia University in Health and Human Performance with a focus on “The Effects of a Well-Formulated Ketogenic Diet and Exogenous Ketone Supplementation on Various Markers of Health and Body Composition in Healthy and Diseased Populations.” Over his career, Ryan has published over 150 papers, abstracts, and book chapters on human performance and sports nutrition and has dedicated his life to educating the masses. In his free time, Ryan enjoys spending time with his best friend, Scoot the Keto Pup, jet skiing, and traveling around the world. The way to his heart is through a good glass of wine and Keto desserts.
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Taken together, the above studies prompt the question: What is the prebiotic activity of SCF? If it is a true fiber, per our definitions above, then SCF should have a beneficial effect on gut microbiome bacteria. A study performed in 24 adolescents noted an increase in beneficial bacteria (e.g., Bacteroides, Butyricicoccus, Oscillibacter, and Dialister). Furthermore, this was correlated with an increase in calcium absorption upon the consumption of 12 grams of SCF per day for three weeks.[7][8] An additional study, which administered 8, 14, and 21 grams of SCF over 14 days, found that good bacteria (e.g., Bifidobacteria) increased and peaked at 8 grams per day. This value is nearly identical to inulin, which is considered the “gold standard.” Despite its nearly parallel effects to inulin at 8 grams/day, research has demonstrated that SCF is 3-4 times more tolerable than inulin due to its slower rate of digestibility by the gut bacteria. In fact, 26 grams of SCF barely increased GI symptoms relative to a placebo!
In most cases, if you grab a low-carb snack at random from the grocery store shelf and look at the label, a common nutrient profile contains around 20 grams of carbohydrates, yet maybe 15 of those grams are from “fiber.” The result is five grams of net carbs, right? Not so fast. . . if a Type I diabetic were to consume that bar, cookie, or brownie with the five grams of net carbs, there should not be a need for insulin since, theoretically, there is minimal glucose (blood sugar) entering the system from those five net carbs, which shouldn’t require an insulin response. Unfortunately, theory and outcome do not always match.
But do you need that much fiber to stay healthy? Perhaps not. Several different large reviews of dozens of studies have found that eating more fiber than the average person can reduce your risk of dying from both heart disease and cancer by at least 10%[*][*][*]. The benefits of eating fiber in these studies occurred with a total daily fiber intake between 18-26 grams, much lower than the USDA and NAS recommendations.
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As observed by the graphs above, in contrast to the IMOs in which blood glucose rapidly increased to 125 mg/dL, SCF did not elicit any blood glucose response.[9] In addition, while insulin was elevated during the IMO condition, it actually tended to go down in the SCF condition! Despite the results from the blood glucose and insulin responses, the breath hydrogen assay will distinguish which is a “true fiber.” Our data below clearly indicates that SCF indeed passes into the large intestine, as indicated by the large breath hydrogen response. In stark contrast, IMOs do not.
Coconut is an excellent high-fat source of fiber. Did you know that coconut actually has 4-to-6 times the amount of fiber as oat bran? A cup of coconut contains about 7 grams of fiber, along with omega-6 fatty acids, manganese, folate and selenium. When it comes to keto fiber foods, you can eat coconut flakes, coconut chips, coconut flour and coconut oil, too.