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.
Walk around any fitness expo, or even down the “snack bar” aisle of a grocery store, and you are bound to see many varieties of low carb, high protein bars, cookies, candies, and everything in between. Protein bars are in the mainstream right now, and they seem to be everywhere, from the local grocery store to the airport, and even gas stations. Companies have mastered the ability to create something that is pleasing to both the eye and the pallet (i.e., flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough, birthday cake, chocolate brownie, peanut butter, etc.), yet provides ample protein while “low” in carbohydrates. If you attend any fitness or food-related expo, you are very aware that the booths with the longest lines are the ones that are sampling their latest protein bars or “high protein, low carb” treats (cookies, brownies, ice creams, etc.). Nonetheless, in a red ocean market (i.e., market ran by competing industries) that is flooded with these “healthier and high-protein” alternatives, what truly separates one product from another?
7. Bouhnik, Y., Raskine, L., Simoneau, G., Vicaut, E., Neut, C., Flourié, B., … & Bornet, F. R. (2004). The capacity of nondigestible carbohydrates to stimulate fecal bifidobacteria in healthy humans: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, dose-response relation study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 80(6), 1658-1664.
IMOs can be made in several ways, but they are primarily derived from a sugar called maltose. IMO is promoted as a prebiotic fiber with a light sweetness profile. Its functional properties (i.e., moisture retention, low viscosity) make it well-suited for nutrition bars, cookies, candies, and the like. In order to fully understand IMOs and how the body processes them, we first need to understand how starches are digested in the body. Starches, also known as polysaccharides, are long and sometimes branched chains of glucose molecules. Initially, starch digestion begins in the small intestine with an enzyme called α-amylase. A-amylase breaks these long glucose chains into much shorter chains, called oligosaccharides, which are composed of anywhere from two to approximately 10 glucose units. Following this, specific enzymes on the brush border of the small intestine break down these oligosaccharides even further, into individual glucose units (monosaccharides) which are then absorbed.